A fatal flaw of democracy: humans tend to form echo chambers


In our pleasant illusion of how democracy works, we imagine that each person sits down well in advance of an election, studies the issues and makes an “informed choice” about what the outcome should be. In reality, people sit in teams like at a soccer match, voting based on what makes the other guy look bad, and end up disappointed by the results every time.

There are many reasons for this. People tend toward a “committee mentality” in groups that results in compromises in the direction of inertia, and most people make terrible choices in all life matters anyway. But another factor arises from the human tendency to make conclusions, filter out contrary data, and then confirm that bias using social pressure from a group.

We find that, although consumers of scientific and conspiracy stories present similar consumption patterns with respect to content, cascade dynamics differ. Selective exposure to content is the primary driver of content diffusion and generates the formation of homogeneous clusters, i.e., “echo chambers.” Indeed, homogeneity appears to be the primary driver for the diffusion of contents and each echo chamber has its own cascade dynamics.

A recent study focuses on Facebook in order to observe this human tendency. While Facebook makes this clustering easier, the same can be observed in how people choose news sources and even real-life friends based on political compatibility.

Anyone who has been shut out of a friend group for not following the dominant thought, whether a political inclination like liberalism or centered around a specific issue like drug legalization, raise your hand here. Diversity does not work in any form, and as part of the same phenomenon, people create tribes around their beliefs in order to reinforce them. This is not altogether bad as it allows groups to define their own standards. To define your own standards, you first need to exclude others, which requires identifying them as Other if not outright Evil.

The problem is that in human groups, this leads to people choosing policy answers by personal preference that may not have a counterpart in reality. As a result, it becomes a matter of the most trivial form of personal identity, like a clothing choice or favorite band, and has nothing in to do with the decision being made. Once the mind is oriented in a direction, people remove themselves from the broader debate by specializing in those that roughly agree with them, and from there, no debate or discussion can happen and so the issue is decided in advance by loyalty.

This research joins the other 400,000,000 reasons why democracy is a stupid idea, which explains its complete lack of successes through history wherever it was tried. There is always a honeymoon period where it seems to work, then apathy, then tyranny and a sudden, baffling, and unnoticed collapse. All nations become Brazil at that point: corrupt, crime-ridden, low average IQ, low function and low hygiene. At that point, history moves on, since nothing is more boring than predictable failure by people in denial.

Tags: ,

9 Responses to “A fatal flaw of democracy: humans tend to form echo chambers”

  1. -A says:

    Sounds like something a King could put to good use if understood properly. Culture would, of course, see to the rest. This is also the reason why most empires fail. Russia is nothing short of astonishing in that regard. I wonder if having a common enemy in restoring from communism had anything to do with it. Also, in regards to their traditionalist culture, it seems that Stalin might not have been so destructive to its core as once thought. If it is true though, it might just be incidental.

    • Sounds like something a King could put to good use if understood properly. Culture would, of course, see to the rest.

      I agree. It’s a gentler and more effective path than Government.

  2. epochehusserl says:

    All social organizations have exclusions, boundaries, domains and hierarchies including civil rights organizations. When I criticized they teleology of mlk’s movement with a coworker his talking point was so you want to go back to the day when — blah, blah, blah. Yes I would like to go back to the day when it was assumed that private people formed torganizations and associations with whom they share a moral and social affinity towards bettering their own condition as they see fit independent of opinion of the social critic or activist. When we see savages like BLM mckeson start to go on the warpath and demand that private organizations do this that or the other then whites need to wake up.

  3. Dualist says:

    This is fascinating research, and further confirms what we all knew.

    Speaking of echo-chambers, on The Student Room, the main student website and blog in Britain and probably the most leftwing-meme-repeating hotbed imaginable, somebody has started a thread today called ‘Anti-Whites will force Britain to take in more immigrants’. And actually against the idea, amazingly for such a community!

    The usual tolerant-ones have already responded to this, however, giving such displays of benefaction as:

    ‘I don’t think ‘interbreeding’ is such a bad idea, if it helps get rid of white people. White people are trash in all honesty. And I’m white.’

    (Though I wonder if s/he WAS actually white, ‘in all honesty….’ Or even:

    ‘Reported for being a Holocaust denier!’

    And, best of all:

    ‘Get lost Neo-Nazi!’

    Nonetheless, this is a very promising sign, indeed. Our students and universities, as you can well imagine, are normally all thoroughly thought-policed. So if we are now finally starting to see even a slight Reaction there, this really does mean something. A future were 100% of its younger members are ALL brainwashed ideologues is no future.

    I wonder if it has been started by National Action, who I hear are supposed to have a ‘foothold’ on several campuses – but I’d dismissed the notion as probably fanciful, or maybe 3 members at most. I do hope its more than that.

    We really should all register and lend our support. I’ll be Torquemada.

      • crow says:

        Join it? A good idea, in principle, however one must consider what reading that stuff would do to one. Crazy-making! Anger-manufacturing! Nutcase-cake-baking!

        Maybe there are stouter hearts than mine, out there, but I already know the effect it would have on me. I prefer not inhabiting the same space as lunatics.

        • Dualist says:

          I’ve only gone and done it! I just joined (with a different name) and looked at the list of today’s other questions. And some of the answers, too.

          I’m now in a state resembling despair, and if I’d stayed one more minute I would have gone hopelessly insane.

          What I had miscalculated was that these (supposedly bright) people are not even CAPABLE of understanding an argument, on any subject. I didn’t even bother…

          I knew it would be bad but I didn’t think it would be THAT bad.

          • crow says:

            Well, you couldn’t know until you know. There simply is no level on which you could hope to communicate with people like that. Nice try :)

    • They’re excited to show how obedient they are to the idea that makes other people happy. When people behave like that, you know to disregard everything they “think,” because they’re not thinking and definitely not thinking about outcomes, only appearances. Zombies!

Leave a Reply

XHTML: You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>