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15 September 2016 @ 06:15 am
“The Internet might very well have been designed for confirmation bias.”  
Can we think critically anymore?

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Experiencing Technical Difficulties: Danielresonant on September 16th, 2016 01:04 am (UTC)
“Books might very well have been designed for confirmation bias.”
“Newspapers might very well have been designed for confirmation bias.”
“Clay tablets might very well have been designed for confirmation bias.”
“Cave paintings might very well have been designed for confirmation bias.”
eub on September 16th, 2016 07:27 am (UTC)
It's almost as if humans go for confirmation bias.

This is a classic example of the journalistic "trend piece".
1) Pick something you notice easily (alarming, titillating, pet peeve -- salient for any reason)
2) Look around, find multiple current examples of it!
3) Assert in passing that it was less common before. You need no quantitative information about occurrence now. You certainly don't dig up quantitative information about past occurrence.

There's nothing here that actually backs up the claim of a trend, it's trading on our feelings that we see too many other people making noncritical emotionally-driven reposts. (Props to Carr for taking the position that he himself had lost capabilities; most people think it's people they disagree with who are getting dumb.)

Too bad, there's definitely discussion to be had. I'd look less for a change in the rhetorical style of what we read (more emotion-triggering?) or in our cognitive response (more emotional?); more for a change in the specific content of what we read (agrees with us). So Filter Bubble wasn't perfect but said things worth reading about that.

Edited at 2016-09-16 07:28 am (UTC)
eub on September 16th, 2016 08:02 am (UTC)
(Again, we've always subscribed to the one of the three town newspapers that agreed with us. It's not that this is new, but it's now more fine-grained -- you can mix and match, you can find material for any fringe belief.

I don't know how far this fine-grainedness changes the situation, though. My sense is most people were already pretty well bubbled just by picking the left or the right newspaper.

What I have a suspicion is a bigger deal is a strengthening bubble in who we interact with. In online social networks, yeah, but also offline, like in where we live and who we interact with. I don't have data for it though.)

Edited at 2016-09-16 08:22 am (UTC)
Deldel_c on September 16th, 2016 12:10 pm (UTC)
S M Stirling (to drop a name) once remarked that the Internet let you choose your reading material to fit your agenda. I retorted that in days gone by, other people chose your reading material for you to fit their agenda, and that this is an improvement.

I think a lot of the old "critical thinking" was aimed at that reading material chosen by others, by readers annoyed that it didn't fit their agenda. We still exercise those critical thinking muscles, by gathering together in our community to point out and laugh at how dumb the other community is.