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How the Internet has wrecked political discourse


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how-internet-has-wrecked-political.html#.Vd-2yvmgREcThe Elder Of Ziyon:

Vic Rosenthal

Aug 27 2015


If you are reading this, chances are that you would describe yourself as pro-Israel and probably right of center.


You probably read several other pro-Israel and conservative blogs. You do not read +972 Magazine, or Mondoweiss. If you are American, you probably prefer Fox News to MSNBC. If you are Israeli, you might read Israel Hayom or Makor Rishon. You would not be caught dead buying Ha’aretz.

This is called an ‘information bubble’. If you are inside such a bubble, you are only exposed to opinions that you already agree with. A large part of the reason is the psychological phenomenon of confirmation bias, by which we tend “to search for, interpret, favor, and recall information in a way that confirms one's beliefs or hypotheses while giving disproportionately less attention to information that contradicts it.”

Confirmation bias has been the subject of much study by psychologists and brain scientists, who have found that the process of finding confirming evidence for a proposition that one is already committed to is accompanied by brain processes associated with release of emotional tension and pleasure. Reading Gideon Levy in Ha’aretz is, for a certain kind of individual, similar to sex (or at least more available).

What has happened is that the Internet and especially social media, which might have been expected to remove limitations and provide a plethora of options to consumers of information, have had the opposite effect. They have become amplifiers of confirmation bias.

This is because of the economic facts about advertising-supported sites. The more clicks, the more money. So developers want people to look at their sites as much as possible, which they accomplish by doing their best to figure out what users want to see and giving it to them.

From The Comments
mordy7 hours ago


I recently had a conversation with some Pakistani citizens online who were well-versed in the "crimes" of the Zionist entity but seemed completely unfamiliar with the far more dire and severe crimes perpetrated by the Pakistani people (like the genocide and rape practiced in Bangladesh, or the ethnic cleansing of Pakistani non-Muslims during the partition era). This is a special kind of information bubble you find primarily in non-democratic, pseudo-fascist States where upon the actions of their own government are opaque, but crimes of enemies of the State are prolific + widely known. Contrast this to actual democratic States like the US, UK or Israel where there is a robust opposition to the State and extensive condemnations of its political history. This can lead to a kind of dizzying paradox whereby democratic Western States can seem like the primary villains of history while far more severe (and in many cases ongoing) crimes are eluded by their populations. The deluded might say that the existence of Haaretz, a voraciously critical of Israel newspaper, is indicative of the severity of Israeli crimes. People with a more cosmopolitan awareness understand that Pakistan doesn't have their own Haaretz not because they don't have crimes to critique, but because there is no freedom of press whatsoever. (nb I realize I'm preaching to the choir here - it's fairly dispiriting in any case.)

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