Saturday, December 29, 2012

On Echo Chambers and Media Polarization

NPR mike #2As we mentioned a couple of days ago, a Norwegian university professor named Jill Walker Rettberg has helped to establish a new academic fellowship whose purpose will be to investigate extremism on the Internet. The professor pointed out that web extremists are able to inhabit their own “echo chamber” or “filter bubble”. As far as I could determine, the only extremists mentioned by name in the interview with her were Anders Behring Breivik and Fjordman.

Nevertheless, Prof. Rettberg insists that the new position will look at all types of extremism, and not just “right-wing extremism”. She left the following comment on the post earlier today:

Hey, thanks for linking to the article — we hope to have applications from people interested in examining any kind of extremism, we’re not simply interested in right-wing extremism. If you look at the actual job advertisement you’ll see that we’re trying to be open.

The whole idea of an echo chamber or the filter bubble is that we’re ALL in echo chambers and we have to make an effort if we want to see and hear view points from outside of it. The internet appears to exacerbate that. You can use it to find anything, but studies have also shown that political debate, for instance, is more polarised in blogs than on television. So yes, of course I recognise that I’m also in an echo chamber.

In response to Prof. Rettberg, our longtime reader, commenter, and contributor Egghead left the following comment on the same post. It’s worth reproducing in its entirety:

Jill Walker Rettberg:

Your basic assumption that anti-jihad blogs are right-wing extremist blogs is insulting and incorrect.

Who are you to label an anti-jihad point of view — which is backed up by over 1,400 years of evidence of Muslim violence and jihad war — as right-wing extremism?

Anyone with a grasp of both past history and current events would understand that the real extremism is exhibited by well-documented actions of Muslims who have always used — and still use — torture, rape, kidnap, mass murder, poll tax, and dhimmi slave status to clear Muslim countries of all non-Muslims — and also to conquer non-Muslim countries for the ummah.

Your reference to the article that claims that…

1. blog readers are more polarized than non-blog-readers or consumers of various television news programs, and
2. left-wing blogs inspire more political participation than right-wing blogs

…is highly suspect.

NPR mike #1First, the term ‘polarized’ has a negative connotation as if the preferred state of people is that people remain anesthetized rather than polarized — as if having no opinion — or a state-approved opinion — is somehow better than having a strong or conflicting opinion.

Second, the consumers of various television news programs are simply consuming state-approved and/or state-funded propaganda intended to keep people in the dark about major issues — thus calm and manageable for current leaders. To wit, television news programs are themselves polarized to reflect the goals of left-wing leaders. To claim that television news programs are non-polarized is to beggar disbelief in anyone who watches said shows.

Please note that former Obama czar Cass Sunstein reviewed the article that you referenced prior to its publication so said article can hardly be seen to be neutral.

“Sunstein gained notoriety on a number of fronts. He called for dispatching government agents to sabotage individuals and groups opposed to government — most notably those at odds with the official 9/11 narrative — and suggested the government hold people responsible for the information they post on the internet.”

Obama’s Authoritarian Adviser Sunstein Steps Down

Likewise, modern mass media is notoriously left-leaning rather than neutral.

Just the fact that reporters in the left-leaning mass media have omitted to question Obama about the many documented fraudulent activities of Obama and his many criminal cronies is an indication of the left-wing extremism of the mass media.

The best that we can hope is that you will learn something factual about Islam while you are reading about it.

Please, read the entire site from top to bottom until you understand that extremism is the actions of Muslims rather than the words of anti-jihadists. Extremism is the Marxist-Islamic partnership to overthrow Western civilization.

— Egghead


dymphna said...

i'll believe there is authentic integrity in this academic undertaking if and when it seeks to examine the role of Hamas in middle eastern violence. Hamas' very reason for being is a murderous extremity that most western countries reject as terrorism.

WHO, pray tell, are Hamas' mentors? Who gives them material and moral support?

As for Fjordmanology, what quislings be these 'academics' who seek the continued harrassment of a man who never hurt anyone? Dark indeed are these machinations against an innocent man. One can infer from the intense persecution, now ramping up another notch, how terrified Norway is of its own shadow side...

...A more useful study would be an examination of the numbers of Norwegian men who have fled the totalitarian democracy of Norway, those growing numbers who would rather live free in homesick exile than be forced to live a lie in their native land.

I wonder how many of those men this scholar has interviewed?

The karmic debt of this smug, self-satisfied polity grows apace. It is not a debt that can be paid in petro dollars.

The mills of God grind slowly...

Barry said...

I think that white western countries such as Norway should immediately expel all Moslems - because Moslems are alien to these countries

Nick said...

It would be quite helpful if, before committing any resources to this project, the nice lady took the time to define her terms.

What on earth is "extremism" anyway?

What exactly does she mean when she says "right wing"?

After she's defined her terms, then she really ought to demonstrate that such terms apply to the people she's "studying".

(Clearly, if they do not then such studies will be a waste of time and effort.)

So what exactly does it mean to be an "extremist" then? It certainly CAN'T mean believing in freedom, democracy, peaceful protest and open discussion.

Could it possibly mean ... disagreeing with what John Stuart Mill called the "received opinion"? Oh dearie me, we can't have that now, can we?

Perhaps the nice lady ought to spend a little time reading "On Liberty" before she commences with this rather unusual enterprise.

Or as someone has already pointed out - if anyone is genuinely interested in studying "extremism" then your first port of call is the freedom-reducing actions around the world carried out by devout members of the ummah and inspired by the teachings of the koran.

It is a fact that the doctrines of Islam, if followed, reduce the amount of negative freedom for anyone unfortunate to be in a shariah state - that's just a fact. The doctrines of Islam are opposed to human liberty.

It is not "extreme" to make such a philosophical observation.

Is it, Ma'am?

dymphna said...

Ah, Barry... your views are considered raaacist by such countries, didn't you know that? They have a fine multi-cultural polity and they want to keep it that way. Not that the elites ever plan to mingle with the immigrants. That's what the proles are for.

Elites, they simply write papers extolling the virtues of their wonderful multi-cultural utopia. Or it would be a utopia if the crazies could be kept in line...every once in a while, one of them goes beserk, causing a blizzard of white papers explaining the beserker and then finding scapegoats on which to blame the fact of the beserker's existence.

The white paper is soft and floats ever so gently to the earth, covering over the deep doodoo their insane policies excrete.

Oh, by the way, for our European readers: the expression "deep doodoo" was made famous by Bush 41back in the '80s. Because a Republican president used it, no self-respecting leftist would ever touch that phrase. Which is one reason I like it.

I'm also fond of it because it's kind of silly. Bush 41 had a great silly streak, something sadly lacking in the current occupant of the White House.

dymphna said...

@ Nick-

The circumvention 'round your question would be to tell you that what you propose is simply not interesting.

I saw one of 'em do that, oh so politely, when pressed about the reality of innate gender differences. The question was firmly and gently refused; the existence of dimorphism was declared not worth investigating.

That was one of the eeriest exchanges I ever saw.

Nick said...

But if the very things they're supposed to be studying aren't interesting, then why are they studying them?

And just an observation: if they can't say what they mean when they employ their own terms then here's another straightforward philosophical observation: They quite literally don't know what they're talking about.

So yes, defining your own terms before you carry out any sort of project like that is definitely a good idea.

Of course there's me thinking rationally again ...

Anonymous said...

Who's going to define "extremist?"

Joe said...

Socialists and communists have spent the last 70 years pretending that Hitler's "National Socialist & German Worker's Party" was not left-wing. They classify Mussolini as "right-wing", when he was the editor of the Italian Socialist Party's newspaper (at his death, Mussolini's leninist protege shouted "Viva Mussolini, viva socialism".

These so-called "academics" use these words to confuse rather than enlightend (30 years ago I was told in my first "History of Political Thought" lecture that none of us were permitted to use "left-wing/right-wing" as they were meaningless concepts). The academy is so politicised now, that they won't admit they use these loaded words as bogeymen.

Whether or not the Muslim Brotherhood would be described as "left" or "right" is irrelevant. What is required is to analyse their policies and compare them with those of the Nazi Party and those of the 19th Century Whigs (for example). It would be obvious that the Nazis and the Muslim Brotherhood would share almost identical policies.

When Hasan Al-Banna was assassinated in 1949, the New York Times described the Muslim Brotherhood as a fascist organisation. Muslim commentators on the Brotherhood described it in 1946 as an amalgam of Salafism, Nazism and Communism (all forms of collectivist totalitarianism).

It is perfectly clear that we are the people who should be teaching these courses, not these partisan and unobjective "academics".

Anonymous said...

Does anybody know how I can communicate with Ms. Rettberg directly (and politely)in English?

I am going to ask her if she or her apointee would care to widen their perspective beyond Fjordman and enter into a rational debate with me.

It's probably another 'senior moment', I know, but one that I feel is well worth a try, particularly if such a debate could be conducted in public on/in the blogosphere (some hope!).

Seneca III

Anonymous said...

Definition of a "right-wing extremist" by the standards of today's left:

--Someone who believes that a country can't exist without borders (and enforcement therof).

--Someone who believes that governments should represent their taxpayers and citizens, instead of non-taxpaying, illegally arriving Third World foreigners

--Someone who believes that Western Civilization is valuable and deserves to be protected and preserved.

"Right-Wing Extremist"--wear the label proudly!

Baron Bodissey said...

Seneca III --

Her address and phone number are publicly listed at the Bergen University site, but strangely enough there is no email address on that page. However, her official university email seems to be listed here.

Her blog says "I'm @jilltxt on Twitter", but you are probably no more a Twitter user than I am.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Baron, I will give it go and keep you in the loop and, if she is willing to give it a go in the public domain would you be interested in hosting the debate?

And, yes, I avoid Twitter and Facebook for the plagues they are and not just because during 2012 over 5000 people - I will say that again, over 5000 people - in the UK were prosecuted by the Thought Police for exercising their right to freedom of speech on twitter alone.

Seneca III

Baron Bodissey said...

Seneca --

I'd be delighted to host such a debate. In fact, I'd probably weigh in myself.

Truthiocity said...

Prof. Rettberg clearly does not know how to read. The innitial forensic evaluation of Brievik, still available online, showed him to be a paranoid schizophrenic. He exhibited the physical, verbal and mental symptoms of schizophrenia and had the life history of a schizophrenic.

Ignoring that teensy weensy little detail is either gross ignorance or intellectually dishonest.

And I thought one of Fjordman's motivations was antipathy against the importation of right wing extremism into his country. By that standard of thinking the Southern Poverty Law center could be labled far right.

Anonymous said...

Just to let you know;
A very good friend of mine is an academic lecturer at a very high level here in Norway. He claims that it is almost impossible to get funding for research in other fields than the goverment approved areas. The approved areas being positive sides of immigration, positive sides of Islam, global warming and countless of useless studies promoting every aspects of a socialist gouvernment. He would very much like to do more research in the global warming issue and counter the many myths and errors in todays truth. But there is no funding and he would also be "out in the cold" among his colleagues. Of course it is easier to go with the flow, at least when you are 60+ years as many academics in this level are. So there is almost noone to counter the research done in the approved areas. He also says this is the fact in most european countries.

dymphna said...

Oh, wait. I just remembered: since the rise of the media-driven meme of "right-wing extremism" there is NO extremism on the Left. The Left is a choir; its sings in unison and all of its songs are revisionist renderings of history: Hitler? Right wing extremist. Ditto, Mussolini and Stalin. And Che remains a hero.

Ever since Hillary blamed what she called the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy (VRWC) for exposing her husband - let me rephrase that - for making jokes about the poor man's satyriasis and demanding that some kind of penalty apply for his lying under oath; since then the polarization has grown apace.

What were complaints by liberals prior to the Boomer Baby Presidency became a concerted full court press by the permanent nomenklatura in the West. Hillary has simply continued to develop the betrayals in her Sec State role.

This new attack on Fjordman is simply another facet in the endeavor to keep people polarized and suspicious of one another.

The situation was easier to see when the adversary was the USSR. After its Fall we thought the fight was over. Little did we know we'd shortly have a Red Diaper Baby President who would work openly toward the destruction of individual liberty and the weatern culture he was taught to despise and dishonor.

The battle is more difficult now because the enemiess of individual liberties are inside the fence.

Sadly, the Left has never met a repression it didn't love. Think Castro and his destruction of Cuba in the name of freedom.

When there is enough perspective (i.e., the temporal distance one needs) to write the larger panoramais explanations for the massive and serious delusions of our day, don't you wonder what they'll say about these actors currently on center stage?

Anonymous said...

It's called "no enemies on the Left, no friends on the right." The ruling mantra of one Herbert Marcuse, the Frankfurt School's proudest and most "successful" member.

thor42 said...

**Outstanding stuff**, Egghead! Very well said!

Sol Ta Triane said...

Ms. Egg: A very nice job with your response!

The definition of "leftist" is one drawn to authoritarian power. They are anti-cultural, anti-philisophical and are either passive-aggressive sheeple or pro-agressive leader types.

The definition of a "right-winger" is someone who emphasizes personal responsibility over extensive government control.

The leftist, quite stylish use of the word "extremism" is simply to pin it on to everyone who won't agree with them.

A right-winger's definition of "extremism" is anyone who follows the extreme and dangerous written and spoken teachings of socialism, Islam or smaller, similarly dangerous cults.

Anonymous said...

Thanks to all for your kind words!