Tuesday, November 10, 2015

The echo chambers of today...

This atomization and polarization have been exacerbated by the decline in the news audience share captured by the three major networks, which for decades at least tested against some standards the accuracy and completeness of the information we received, and which provided a common information template shared by Americans even of divergent views. Today, viewers have been drawn to niche channels, attractive to them precisely because they echo their preconceptions. A common canon of information has been supplanted by an echo chamber in which people pick a particular news source to fit their views, and their views then are validated and reinforced by the new information they receive, information tailored and targeted for them – and untested for its accuracy against any meaningful standard.
The general tendencies are reflected in the increasingly impoverished quality of what is said by our political leaders in the public forum. Candidates for public office now relentlessly employ slogans, talking points, simplistic messages and attack ads. We have moved far from the Athenian ideal of participatory, dialogic democracy. This led Fortune’s Matt Miller to write:
Is it possible in America today to convince anyone of anything he doesn’t already believe? If so, are there enough places where this mingling of minds occurs to sustain a democracy? The signs are not good. Ninety percent of political conversation amounts to dueling “talking points.” Best-selling books reinforce what folks thought when they bought them. Talk radio and opinion journals preach to the converted. Let’s face it: the purpose of most political speech is not to persuade but to win, be it power, ratings, celebrity or even cash. By contrast, marshaling a case to persuade those who start from a different position is a lost art. Honoring what’s right in the other side’s argument seems a superfluous thing that can only cause trouble, like an appendix. Politicos huddle with like-minded souls in opinion cocoons that seem impervious to facts.
"Dogmatism and Complexity"