Vincent F. Hendricks: Professor, Director | Center for Information and Bubble Studies | University of Copenhagen

Infostorms | 2016-2018

Why do we “like?” Explaining individual behavior on the social net

332 pages

Vincent F. Hendricks
Pelle G. Hansen

ISBN 978-3-319-32765-5

New York: Copernicus Books / Springer Nature, September 15, 2016
Belgrade: Center for the Promotion of Science, Belgrade, 2017 (Serbian translation)

Bura informacija : zašto “lajkujemo”? : objašnjenje individualnog ponašanja na društvenim mrežama

Vincent F. Hendricks / Pelle G. Hansen

ISBN 978-868876726-2 / Centar za promociju nauke
Serbian translation of Infostorms, 2nd Revised and Expanded Edition

Press Appearances / 2016

open16037Alexander Heffner & Vincent F. Hendricks
The Open Mind / Channel Thirteen, 30.10.2016

The information society is upon us. New technologies have given us back-pocket libraries, online discussion forums, blogs, crowd-based opinion aggregators, social media and breaking news wherever, whenever.

But are we more enlightened and rational because of it? With points of departure in philosophy, logic, social psychology, economics, and choice and game theory, Infostorms shows how information may be used to improve the quality of personal decision and group thinking but also warns against the informational pitfalls which modern information technology may amplify, from science to reality culture and from cyberbullying to what it really is that makes you buy a book like this.

“With this brilliant book, we have been warned. It is up to all of us in the world today to be stewards of the common resource that is trustworthy and relevant information”.

– Adam Brandenburger, Stern School of Business, NYU

“A highly recommended read for social scientists and concerned citizens alike”.

– Christian List, London School of Economics

Table of Contents

Chapter 1: Off we go
1.1 Social psychology on speed
1.2 information vs. knowledge
1.3 Side-tracking and manipulation
1.4 Individual search and social proof
1.5 Parts and parcels


Chapter 2: Common knowledge and Public Space
2.1 The day Public Space sold out
2.2 More than the opposite of private
2.3 Public announcements and infinite knowledge
2.4 Notions of Group Knowledge
2.5 Public space as a fundamental informational structure
2.6 The social power of public space
2.7 Techno-ideological pickets
2.8 Public space and online status

Chapter 3: Pluralistic Ignorance and Bystanders
3.1 Computer City
3.2 Today’s lesson: pluralistic ignorance
3.3 Pluralistic ignorance and the bystander effect
3.4 The recipe for bystander-effects
3.5 Cyber bullying – the case of Amanda Todd
3.6 The frailty of ignorance

Chapter 4: Informational Cascades and Lemmings
4.1 Air France, Delta Airlines and terminals
4.2 Amazon and Sex and the City
4.3 The nuts and bolts of cascades
4.4 Status economics
4.5 A decisive piece of information
4.6 True disciples and disbelievers
4.7 Infostorms in a connected world


Chapter 5: Choice: Framing Choice
5.1 “Like” it or not?
5.2 Framing approval
5.3 Choosing between life and death
5.4 Framing a problem
5.5 Risky insurance
5.6 Fumbles in frames
5.7 Information in a new key
5.8 The art of framing democracy

Chapter 6: Markets: Choosing Frames
6.1 The invisible hands of democracy
6.2 Positive freedom
6.3 The relevance of self-determination
6.4 Political freedom and individual choice
6.5 Walking the dog at night
6.6 Individual choice and climate negotiations
6.7 Market competition and Tour de France
6.8 Ulysses and the song of the sirens

Chapter 7: Deliberation: Polarized People
7.1. Trouble either way
7.2 Deliberating to the extreme
7.3 Gnomes and people like u
7.4 The brass tacks of polarization
7.5 I want to be just like you all
7.6 Group polarization and individual marginalization
7.7 I can’t read you online
7.8 Dissolving divarication
7.9 Deliberative democratic systems
7.10 Echo chambers and stomping grounds
7.11 Deaf, blind and mute

Chapter 8: The Constitutive Games We Play
8.1 Decision frames
8.2 Blood Money
8.3 Inferring micro-motives from macro-behavior
8.4 Riots and Ghettos
8.5 Why democracy is not just ‘one vote’
8.6 Mistaking society for a company


Chapter 9: Wars
9.1 Just another day at the office
9.2 Quicksand at the bus stop
9.3 The logic of death tolls
9.4 Taking a hammering at the auction
9.5 A lemon market for apples
9.6 Zombies in Vegas
9.7 Escaping the one-armed bandit in Afghanistan
9.8 In the pocket of Taliban

Chapter 10: Bubbles
10.1 Bubble trouble
10.2 Bubble sorts
10.3 Science bubbles
10.4 Status bubbles
10.5. Enough about me, what about you, what do you think of me
10.6 What is it with “likes”?
10.7 Opinion in excess
10.8 Opinion on the market
10.9 Noise traders and noisemakers
10.10 Bubble-hospitable environments

Chapter 11: Democracy
11.1 Taking stock
11.2 Yesterday’s democracy
11.3 “That’s just unacceptable!”
11.4 Post-factual democracy
11.5 True democracy
11.6 Democracy in the process
11.7 Macro- and micro control problems
11.8 Short summary


Chapter 12: The Social Powers of Infostorms
12.1 Iran’s Twitter Revolution.
12.2 The Arab Spring of infostorms
12.3 Peep shows and revolutions at $9.99
12.4 The Golden Shield and the Great Wall of Fire
12.5 Stabilizing forces of quasi-democracies
12.6 The Western puzzle of truth and information
12.7 The gatekeepers of truth and information architects
12.8 The Art and Science of Information Architecture



The first edition of Infostorms was released in
New York: Copernicus Books / Springer, February 28, 2014
ISBN 978-3319038315 / List price: USD 19.99

Infostorms on Facebook / Twitter / Google+

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This detailed guide to navigating the bewildering superabundance of information in today’s globalizing world draws on the latest work in philosophy and the social sciences to explore how information, and its misuse, can both support and undermine democracy.


For Horacio Arló-Costa, an excellent mind and a great friend, who passed on way too early

Bystander experiments from Infostorms, lemming effects, June , 10 / 2013

The information society is upon us and with it comes the constant barrage of information accessible wherever, whenever. This book explores the role of knowledge (or lack thereof) prevalent in society, and investigates the dangers lurking in information technology and democracy as a whole.


Informed fair decision making is not a fixed virtue that a democratic society acquires once and for all, it is a process that constantly needs rethinking and reshaping under changing circumstances. This highly original book brings the latest insights from logic, philosophy, social choice theory, cognitive  psychology, and game theory to bear on the vast information streams that drive our lives. Its innovative unified perspective sensitizes the reader to the many informational whirlpools that can make us, and our societies, spin out of control, and it makes us better equipped to cope with them. The result is a showpiece of socially responsible fundamental science.

– Johan van Benthem
University Professor of Logic and Philosophy, University of Amsterdam & Stanford University

With points of departure in philosophy, social psychology, economics, choice- and game theory, Infostorms shows how information may be used to improve the quality of personal decision and group thinking but also warns against the informational pitfalls which modern information technology may amplify.

infostorms_kulturpaanewsInfostorms in “Kulturen på News”, 28.01.2014

We now make our democratic decisions, as we live our everyday lives, buffeted by gales of purported information that are stronger and more wayward than any previous generation has had to weather. Drawing on many different disciplines and traditions, “Infostorms” offers an analysis of these forces that is indispensable for everyone who is invested, as we all should be, in the value and the future of democracy.

– Philip Pettit
L.S.Rockefeller University Professor of Politics and Human Values, Princeton University; University Distinguished Professor of Philosophy, Australian National University


We live in environments that are rich in information, soundbites, and noise. Our highly connected social networks facilitate the transmission of information, but can also contribute to the spread of misinformation and even disinformation. To build strong democracies and flourishing liberal societies, we must understand how our information environments function and what challenges and opportunities they generate. Written by two scholars with a strongly interdisciplinary orientation, this book brings together insights from many different academic fields to shed light on the mechanisms underpinning information flows in society and how we might respond to them. It is a highly recommended read for social scientists and concerned citizens alike.

– Christian List
Professor of Political Science and Philosophy
London School of Economics

dr_2Infostorms in DR2 Deadline, 13.02.2014

Covering topics including the continued war efforts, the social media success, polarization in politics, stock, science or opinion bubbles this book’s broad approach offers an excellent overview on information (technology) and valuable guidance on how to take information punches.

Infostorms uses examples and logic to offer a distinctive perspective on how everyday activities combined with public information may manipulate our actions, our opinions, or our choices of what to buy or sell. Their examples illustrate notions ranging from social proof, information cascades, opinion bubbles, pluralistic ignorance, framing and polarization effects, and bystander effects. The pages are full of summaries of experimental studies, anecdotes and simple models that challenge how we think of information, knowledge, and actions. This book should be read by everyone interested in network formation and researchers interested in decision making behavior.

Robert A. Becker
Professor of Economics, Indiana University, Bloomington

  • Based on new insights from philosophy, logic, social psychology, behavioral science and economics
  • Explains how to navigate in the information age – from taking the wrong way out of the airport gate to making bad calls in affairs of state and democracy
  • Shows how information is used to enlighten but also manipulate people, opinions and markets

A highly readable book, Infostorms is aimed as much at “students” in the broad sense as those at the university.  It is sure to provoke wide-ranging discussions in classrooms. In addition, its themes and examples suggest new research questions.  All in all, it is an important contribution to the social sciences for both the academy and the public.

– Lawrence S. Moss
Professor of Mathematics,
Indiana University Program in Pure and Applied Logic

Modern man doesn’t need more news – he needs better news. And journalists should learn that information is no longer a scarce resource. We all drown in the polluted information surrounding us. What people need is means of navigation, meaning and alignment. Infostorms is a thoughtful, well-written and scary warning to every media organization: Change!

– Ulrik Haagerup
Executive Director of News
Danish Broadcasting Company


This is a delightful book and deserves to be read by everyone who wants to understand our information saturated twenty first century.  It is written in a light and breezy tone, with amusing examples, but manages to cover an enormous amount of ground.  The points made by the authors explain when democracy works, and when it does not.   I have already given copies of the first edition to several friends and look forward to the second.
– Rohit Parikh
Distinguished Professor
Computer Science, Mathematics, Philosophy
City University of New York


Pelle Guldborg Hansen is Behavioral Researcher at Roskilde University; Director of ISSP – The Initiative of Science, Society & Policy at Roskilde University and University of Southern Denmark; and member of the Prevention Council of the Danish Diabetes Assoc. He is also heading the collaborative venture and chairman of the Danish Nudging Network.


Vincent F. Hendricks is Professor of Formal Philosophy at The University of Copenhagen. He is Director of the Center for Information and Bubble Studies (CIBS) sponsored by the Carlsberg Foundation and was awarded the Elite Research Prize by the Danish Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation and the Roskilde Festival Elite Research Prize both in 2008. He was Editor-in-Chief of Synthese: An International Journal for Epistemology, Methodology and Philosophy of Science between 2005-2015

Infostorms is a sophisticated and accessible investigation into the crucial information flows that shape and govern so many aspects of our social, economic and political lives. It elegantly manages to select crucial results in a variety of technical fields, from logic to game theory, from economic to psychology, and make them cast new and much needed light on the infosphere. An interdisciplinary tour de force not to be missed.

– Luciano Floridi
OII’s Professor of Philosophy and Ethics of Information,
University of Oxford and Fellow of St Cross College, Oxford.


This is an unusual book with a wonderful collection of social phenomena that involve logical reasoning with important notions such as knowledge, information, and beliefs. I was particularly impressed by the nice balance between intriguing stories, formal analysis, and the insights conveyed by the authors. I am sure that readers will be enlightened by this book.

– Fenrong Liu
Professor of Logic, Tsinghua University, Beijing

Public lecture on Infostorms by Vincent F. Hendricks, October 8, 2013

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