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How to Prevent The Influence of Echo Chambers

In February 2018, I was diagnosed with my gall bladder full of stones. It had to be removed. It is normally a very simple operation that you leave the hospital next day. As a person whose life is mostly governed by curiosity, I had to learn about it. So I watched the training videos recorded during actual operations and read scientific material. I also searched through the internet to read about other people’s experiences.

But you know the rule, if you search for your condition in the internet, no matter how simple it is, you learn that you have 3 days left to live.

The rule worked. Everywhere I look was full of people claiming tons of agonizing post-operation problems, mandatory diets, never being able to return to normal life, recurring pain all the time.

This was the echo chamber of the people who had complaints and negative views about the operation.

I did not fall for it. The risk was low and I sticked to the statistics that give more reliable, factual data on the outcome. I could have been an exceptional case as well, but there was nothing I could control.

I tried to see the fun part. When I was asked to count until I fall asleep, I tried to go as long as possible to see how far I can count (It was 7)

It was pointless to jump in to that echo chamber for no good reason. It was not going to help anything, change anything, or provide me any fact. It was misleading me, distorting the reality.

Then it occured to me:

Even though we know how nonsense it is to drift in to echo chambers of health topics, why don’t we treat all others with the same precaution ?

Echo chambers are unavoidable. We are part of many of them starting from childhood. Do you remember how unlucky you thought you were because you and your classmates all agree that you had the most strict teacher ever ? For myself, I realized later on how much we exaggerated it.

The chambers grow in size and number. The only way to prevent this is to cut all contact with humanity. (Lykov Family had kind of succeeded this)

But since you are reading this, that solution is too late for you.

Exposure is inevitable, so shielding yourself from the negative impact is the next better option.

How can you do that ?

1. Do Not Generalize

People in echo chambers often complain about things. It is a huge mistake to generalize those to a wider population without any supporting data. We need data to do such inductive reasoning.

Problems that people complain, often endemic to a certain group. It can be a profession, a company, a city, a country, a sports team, a political group, an industry, a university. Possibilities are endless. What you need to do is to avoid assuming that the problem also applies to another group, even if it is the same kind, without any further examination.

2. Do Not Automatically Adopt Problems of Other People

Just because you are part of a chamber, does not mean that you have the same problems people complain about. Your experience might be totally different.

You do not always know why those people have that particular problem. (Partly because people do not explain everything when they complain about something, and details make a difference)

Making mistake is very human. Not recognizing the mistakes made, is also very human. That is one reason why you will see people complaining about things, without realizing their own mistakes that lead to problems.

It is good to be aware of potential problems, but it is useless to assume same things will happen to you. You have to assess the risk by carefully comparing characteristics of your situation with others.

3. Do Not Follow Emotions

Many people tend to get emotional and exaggerate things when expressing them. Chambers even work to augment this. Unless things are accompanied with audible/visible proofs, always take the possibility of exaggeration in to consideration. We have seen that ordinary people can lost all their empathy and become ruthless, mean, disrespectful when they communicate over the internet.

Reduce what you read in to dry facts, strip anything that sounds loaded with emotion, then reevaluate what you read.

4. Do Not Deem Anything True/False Based on the Amount of People Telling So

There may be huge number of people telling exact same thing. You will not know if they are genuine or fake/paid, or simply reiterating something they heard/read from someone else. You will not have time to track all of them. Some may offer you proofs and even those proofs may need to be fact checked. Never forget that images can be crafted, documents can be forged, biased reports can be written in a way that it supports the idea.

5. Do Not Automatically Adopt Other’s Solutions

As the chambers grow, the level of expertise decreases. A chamber that consists of doctors would have higher quality solutions and discussions, regarding to a health related issue. When the same issue becomes a focus point for the whole country via tv or internet, the average quality of discussion will decrease.

Therefore you must always ask:

Is this group of people whose solutions I’m reading, really competent enough to have trustworthy voice for this subject ?

If it does not seem so, you do not have to spend much time on it. Echo chambers can easily generate ignorance by creating a short circuit among people who are not aware of their ignorance. (Dunning-Kruger effect)

Conclusion

The inflation of echo chambers that we are exposed, produced a problem that previous generations did not severely feel. We are bombarded with opinions and complaints about pretty much everything.

We have to protect our way of interpretation the information, from the impact of this rain, in order to stay on the reasonable, fact driven side.

It is actually not difficult to achieve this. We already know how wrong it is to consult to the opinion of the internet when it comes to health issues. We do not take it serious if a stranger comes up on the street and asserts some opinion.

There is no need to treat echo chambers in the internet differently. Just keep calm and stay reasonable, fact driven.