Beware the Bubble

Echo Chambers are not superior to ivory towers


John Stonestreet

Shane Morris

If you’ve spent any time at all on the Internet talking about controversial political subjects, chances are someone has told you to “do your own research.”

In theory, reading up on a topic before giving an opinion is a good idea. But as James Ballantine and David Dunning write at the New York Times, it’s not always so easy to get good information online.

A little bit of reading, especially reading purposely selected to reinforce our biases, can convince us we know a lot more about a subject than we do. 

Dunning is one of two social scientists who named the Dunning-Kreuger effect, or the “beginner’s bubble.” It’s the illusion someone has after reading an article or watching a video that they have mastered a subject. And it’s become an Internet-wide problem.

Echo chambers are not somehow superior to ivory towers. The same ease of access to information online that allows us to “challenge the status quo” also enables us to find the answers we want to see, whether or not they are really true. So beware the bubble, and remember the wisdom of humility.


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