Echo Chambers REALLY? (2)

After my previous post, it is apparent to me that echo chamber posts are not going viral. I’m not too surprised. Wrestling with the idea and implications of echo chambers requires more than a cute meme and a few pithy quotes. After all, who wants to consider that their comfortable social/ideological confines may be a threat to democracy.

I remain convinced that awareness and understanding of echo chambers is important to personal and societal well-being. It is too simplistic to assign echo chambers sole responsibility  for the deep division in our country. To do so is akin to assigning parents sole responsibility for the their children’s outcome. Echo chambers are incubators for our development as human beings, for good or ill.  Echo chambers greatest peril for ill is their appeal to and nurturing of  our natural inclinations toward tribalism, group think, confirmation bias and certainty.

There is equal opportunity for good. Echo chambers can function as a “deliberating enclave”.

…“enclave deliberation,” … defined as “that form of deliberation that occurs within more or less insulated groups, in which like-minded people speak mostly to one another.” … (Sunstein)

The main value of deliberating enclaves is not that they increase conversation across differences, but that they enable like-minded people to make progress in what they agree about.

The real problem with echo chambers therefore isn’t that they consist of people who believe the same things and whose discussions strengthen their beliefs. The real problem is that some of them are wrong — in their beliefs, their methodology, or, often, in both.  David Weinberger

The most significant human trait that sustains and encourages the proliferation of and participation in harmful echo chambers is our unwillingness to entertain the possibility that we may be wrong.

Don’t forget to “like” this post so our like-minded friends can agree.

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2 Responses to Echo Chambers REALLY? (2)

  1. Dave Carper says:


    I clicked on the link to the ‘David Weinstein’ article “Pointing at the Wrong Villain: Cass Sustein and Echo Chambers. I did not read in it’s entirety but what I gather is that an enclave deliberation is different than an echo chamber or at the very least a healthier version, given that dissenting views are allowed to be shared and discussed, adopted, discredited, shared in agreement or ignored–but at least heard. Whereas in an echo chamber our ears and minds are filtered to hear only what we want to hear and agree with. Is this what you understand? Also can an echo chamber be changed into an enclave of deliberation and vice versa?

    Finally, check the spelling of the last name credited. I believe it is ‘Weinburger’ not ‘Weinstein’.

    • George says:

      Good catch on the reference. I understand enclave deliberation to be a characteristic of healthy echo chambers. Enclave deliberation serves as damper to the unhealthy/destructive character of unmitigated echo chambers. I would say that echo chambers can serve for good or ill. The challenge is not to avoid echo chambers but to understand them and what is necessary to assure a healthy environment. Be glad to have more conversation on this.

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