Facebook Bubble Popping?

TechCrunch has a nifty article that fits neatly with my earlier post, that we don’t need “more” perspectives in the media.

The truth is that we already have the mostest, bestest information, both in the depth and the breadth.  We also don’t have the means to process all or even some of it.  We need contexts to place them into and that is usually what’s lacking.  By throwing a whole mess of unorganized information at people and getting them to organize themselves into the contexts they like on their own, the modern, supersaturated informational environment is setting us all up for echo chambers. This is a world perfectly tailor-mad for what I’d been calling wonkism:  wonkism places its agenda before the facts and figures and uses the facts and figures to support why its agenda is the right agenda.  People don’t know what exactly facts and figures mean, but they gravitate towards the wonks who offer them the agenda they like and adopt their “explanation” for themselves, as the holy writ that accounts for the truth, if only because the wonk’s agenda fits with their sense of how the world should look like.  This is, of course, the polar opposite of “science,” which is geared, at least in principle, towards understanding different possibilities in which the theory might be wrong, at least in part if not whole, grounded in understanding that all of “science” is just a theory and that we should humbly bow before the Truth when it contradicts our theories.

But I don’t know if simply having editors who act as “guardians of truth” is necessarily the best answer.  Fact checkers, once they are suspected of having an agenda of their own, are reduced to shills.  Maybe they are or are not influenced by their existing beliefs, opinions, and agendas, but it does not matter.  Richard Dawkins is indeed a fine scientist, but he also has a vendetta against religion and his enemies, even as they do not understand all of science, knows that science is the principal tool with which Dawkins attacks them.  there is no good reason that the skeptics should automatically trust the gatekeepers just because they say they are watching out for the truth.

Trust has to be earned, by ironclad guarantees credible to all that the guardians are devoted only to the truth and not to any particular agenda.  Indeed, they need to offer proof that they have no agenda of any kind.  This is, of course, at the heart of the idea of Weberian bureaucracy:  ideal bureaucrats are competent, but they are not political.  Indeed, they eschew even any appearance of being political.  If they are, they are just another political actor and all their expertise just props subordinated to their agenda, and that subverts the value of their expertise in the first place–and without the information they could have provided, the debates become coarser and uninformed.  This, of course, is not very easy to accomplish, but necessary if we are to be able to deal intelligently with an ever more complex world.

PS.  This article also makes roughly the same point.


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