Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Welcome to the Echo Chamber

C & E News this week had an opinion piece entitled "Do You Hear an Echo", in which the writer opines
"Although online communities tend to correct or at least challenge questionable information entered into this open system, their emergence also poses a problem. Bloggers I have spoken with agree that even the good science blogs tend to be echo chambers, read largely by like-minded scientists."

I find it very hard not to laugh at this naive opinion. Look at the larger world around us (and weep). With the internet, it is easier than ever to verify facts, and yet politicians are lying more than ever. Does fact checking matter? Or are people actively seeking the echo chamber. Research strongly suggests that they are.
"The social phenomenon known as motivated reasoning is largely to blame. "Most people don't base their opinions on the accumulation of factual material," said Karlyn Bowman, who specializes in polling and public opinion as a senior fellow at the conservative-leaning American Enterprise Institute in Washington, D.C. Instead, said Bowman and others, people will weigh their own values and discussions with others when formulating opinions. And oftentimes, they seek out opinions that validate what they already believe." (emphasis added)
We can preach all we want against this, but it is human nature. We can successfully change that as much as we can change the sun rising tomorrow. Sadly, the internet, with all it's power to prevent this from happening, only adds to it.

Welcome to the future. Welcome to the echo chamber.

No comments: