In the months since Donald Trump was elected president, pundits have been endlessly trying to figure out how we got into this mess (and how we can get out). Many suggest that ideological echo chambers — from all across the political spectrum — helped create our current political divide. With the recent incidents of Sarah Huckabee Sanders being asked to leave the Red Hen restaurant and Kirstjen Nielsen being heckled while dining out, many have called for civility in our political discourse and for people to talk to those who disagree with them. Only then, pundits say, can we escape the pitfalls of motivated reasoning and tribalism.
In a 2016 study, three social scientists found that Facebook users shared articles that reaffirmed their personal narratives even when the articles were fake, and they doubled down when shown evidence that contradicted their worldviews. Brian Resnick of Vox refers to this psychological phenomenon as “motivated reasoning” and explains how two people with different points of view can look at the same piece of empirical data and come up with two completely different interpretations.
While there is no guaranteed magic formula to make a person completely unbiased, most experts agree that being skeptical about one’s beliefs and deliberately reading different points of view can help people see things from another’s perspective. I agree to an extent. I am a hard-left-leaning progressive bisexual nonbinary transgender person, but I read articles by Bari Weiss and Conor Friedersdorf — both of whom are to the right of me on many issues — just in case they might be right about something.
However, there are those who say reading articles isn’t enough. Some, like YouTube talk show host Dave Rubin, say that the only way to break out from an echo chamber is to have a civil conversation with someone who disagrees with you on everything. It sounds good on paper, but for many people, there’s a risk of exposing ourselves to vicious personal attacks on our humanity. What is meant to be an honest discussion about social justice can quickly turn into another example of the onus being put on marginalized people to end our own oppression.
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And this should be the last update for the day. Some days everything gets published at once.