An outbreak of epistemic closure in SF Weekly prompts emergency medical treatment.
Writing in SF Weekly, Dan Mitchell argues that there are no conservatives or libertarians worth following on Twitter or other social-media platforms. "I've always been open to all sane, honest opinions, including from the right," he assures his readers, noting that he frequently read William Safire, William F. Buckley, George Will, James Kilpatrick, and Robert Novak in print, but that this new era just hasn't produced anyone on the right that isn't "nearly all nonsense" or "outright insane."
I'm afraid I've seen these symptoms before: Mitchell is infected with an advanced case of epistemic closure, a condition described in the peer-reviewed Web journal JulianSanchez.com in 2010. Its spread to San Francisco is no surprise, given the conditions in which it thrives. Upon closer examination, it's clear that Mitchell himself was engaging in some very high risk behavior.
As he put it:
I see a lot more different kinds of stuff now than I did when all I had was print and broadcast news. That includes conservative opinion journalism. I see a lot more of it than I used to. The difference is that now, it's nearly all nonsense -- and that's when it's not outright insane. I don't see it by seeking it out, it just makes its way into my feed, usually when it's being made fun of by one of the normal, smart people I follow.
Would you believe that I've conducted some research on this very subject? The conclusion I've reached is that liberals who tweet the most inane things conservatives say in order to highlight and ridicule them are not in fact disseminating a representative sample of conservative thought.