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More praise for IQ2 US

Yin Meet Yang

By John Donvan — May 11, 2012

Internet Debate Blog Image

Yin, meet Yang. Ideally, that's what happens when two sides debate. Or does it? Not to be overly self-referential, but in our upcoming Intelligence Squared U.S. debate – one week from today (Tuesday, April 17), the topic up for debate, is the state of debate itself – the quality of our political discourse in the age of the blog, the Facebook page, and a relentlessly rolling twitter feed.

I've been reading some interesting FOR and AGAINST research on the topic, which you can find in the column on the right. On the FOR side, take a look at Cass Sunstein's Carnegie Council talk. It's from a while back, but scroll down to where he says “like-minded people who are talking to one another end up in a more extreme position.” Look at the studies he cites.

Eli Pariser – who will be onstage debating – updates the classic “echo chamber” critique by arguing that Facebook and Google algorithms are actually forcing us – unawares – into echo chambers of our own accidental design.

But not so fast. There's science on the other side too: look at Farhood Monjool's recent piece in Slate. He writes about a study Facebook funded. Okay, that in itself raises questions, But bottom line: “According to the research, the online echo chamber doesn't exist.”

Yin-Yang. Perfect balance. Immortality. The ancients imagined this as a snake eating its own tail. But maybe that snake also captures the echo chamber, so that all the future holds in store is, well, a bunch of dead half-eaten snakes. Can it really be that bad? Join us to find out, as Yin and Yang go at each other, but without biting each other's heads off.


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John Donvan, Moderator
Intelligence Squared U.S. Debates

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