Posted by: Morgan Hubbard | July 9, 2010

Hey Everyone! Blog challenge!

A couple of weeks ago, some writers over at The Atlantic were talking about epistemic closure, especially among representatives of the American right. By “epistemic closure,” they basically mean groupthink, and an unwillingness to assimilate information that doesn’t fit one’s preexisting perspective. Epistemology is the branch of philosophy that deals with what stuff we know and how we know it, so epistemic closure refers to a system of knowledge that is just that–closed. New information doesn’t change one’s existing ideas.

But the malaise of closed thinking isn’t only a problem for the right–though I’ll probably argue in a later post that such closure (and its close relative, ahistoricism/presentism) are much bigger obstacles for conservative thinkers than for progressives.

I worry about epistemic closure as it applies to me. Do I read enough stuff that challenges my preconceived thinking? Do you? The mark of clear thinking is the ability to understand newly-acquired information in the context of the past and with an eye toward future events. How can we avoid the kind of toxic stagnation that afflicts so much of the right today?

So I hereby issue a challenge to the bloggers of WMAHM: disclose the news sites and blogs you read frequently. As in, at least once a week. Whose thinking influences you most? What are the drawbacks of your stable of information sources? The challenge here is in owning up. Here goes:

On a daily basis, I skim:

Talking Points Memo

ThinkProgress

The Historical Society

Andrew Sullivan at The Atlantic

The Onion

Slate

NYT

Buzzfeed

Some of these are less substantive or political than others. None of them really represent the views of the responsible conservative center (if one remains), except maybe Sullivan. But I know the American GOP would take issue with even that. Certainly none of them offer a conservative counterpoint to TPM and ThinkProgress.

So what do you guys think?

-Morgan

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Responses

  1. there was an interesting post by ryan mcneely on progressive journalism in “hyper polarized america” and the need to engage in responses to conservative arguments rather than just assuming these talking points will fade away. i find this type of response necessary, not just to push some sort of progressive agenda, but to hopefully call out any side engaging in willful misinformation when it’s convenient.

    i’m interested to see where you go with the argument that such epistemic closure is more of a concern on the right wing than on the left. and i wonder how our changing consumption of news & information affects the closed circuit that allows for ideological intolerance.

    http://yglesias.thinkprogress.org/2010/07/reporting-in-a-hyper-partisan-america/

  2. We should show ourselves a bit savvier than those at the Atlantic and refer to this phenomenon as confirmation bias and not as epistemic closure . . . because it isn’t. . . . And I promise a proper post presently as penance for pedantry.

  3. Steve for the (linguistic) win!

  4. Steven Q. Shema: I insist that you post properly, per your previous pledge to pay penance! Posthaste!


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