A great opedÂ from Nicholas Kristof talks about the problems of echo-chambers in the blogosphere.Â
This resistance to information that doesnâ€™t mesh with our preconceived beliefs afflicts both liberals and conservatives, but a raft of studies shows that it is a particular problem with conservatives. For example, when voters receive mailings offering them free pamphlets on various political topics, liberals show some interest in getting conservative views. In contrast, conservatives seek only those pamphlets that echo their own views.
Likewise, liberal blogs overwhelmingly link to other liberal blogs or news sources. But with conservative blogs, the tendency is much more pronounced; it is almost a sealed universe.
The situation isnâ€™t hopeless. Similar psychological processes govern our perceptions of race, yet weâ€™ve made great progress in revising our views and reducing prejudices. The same is true of attitudes towards gays.
The only solutions I see are personal ones, to work out daily to build our mental muscles. Just as we force ourselves to nibble on greens and decline cheesecake, we should seek an information diet that includes a salad bar of information sources â€” with a special focus on unpalatable rubbish from fools. The worse it tastes, the better it may be for us.
This is one of my fears about people getting more and more of their information through bespoke online sources, since it may allow both sides to ignore inconvenient facts that don’t fit their worldview.