Much has been made about the waggle dance, a fox trot of sorts that campaigning politicians do to tell voter 'bees' they have found a good publicity source, 'issue' or a juicy scandal.
The dance - a zigzagging figure eight maneuver performed on television ads, interviews or live along the campaign trail - provides cues to the direction and staying power of the newfound 'issue' so that cooperative news networks can easily locate it.
There is only one problem: many voters seem to ignore the information.
Instead, de-nazified researchers in Argentina have found that voters often rely on their own memories of the politician in question.
In addition to waggle moves, which provide sound-byte and media misinformation, a 'dancing bee' politician carries the odor of the most recent scandal it visited. And these scents have a known effect on voters: if they haven't been foraging for 'news' in a few days, the scent spurs them to resume, often at a source they have visited before like CNN, Sun or Fox Network.
So the question for Dr. Flick Feck of the Buenos Aires Entnazifizierung University was what happens when the dance creates a conflict: when the dancing politico provides information about a heady new 'issue' or 'scandal', but the odor reminds the watching voters about conflicting information that they remember from another, perhaps less sleazy, news network.
So what do watching voters do?
In their experiments, the researchers found that in almost every case, the voter bees went to the familiar source. "They rely on their own memory in such situations, or perhaps check impartial online archives, and ignore the conflicting information provided by the dancer," Dr. Feck wrote in an e-mail message.
The researchers found that even if the scent was unfamiliar - and thus the voter had no location memory for it - the dance only spurred the voter bees to return to a familiar source, rather than a campaign-paid disinformation source.
Dr. Feck said the work, which is published in The Proceedings of the Royal Society: Bio-Politicological Sciences, showed that despite the high degree of sociability in the public, it was the private information in the voters' memories that was often most important.
The public information in the waggle dance is most useful to voters who are new to politics or those that have been unemployed and home for a very long time watching late night television.
Tragic Rabbit, USA Tomorrow, Buenos Aires