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2019年9月
作者为犹他谷大学哲学副教授C. Thi Nguyen

Pick any of the big topics of the day – Brexit, climate change or Trump’s immigration policies – and wander online.

挑选任何一个当下的重大话题:英国脱欧,气候变化或是特朗普的移民政策,然后去网上逛逛。

What one is likely to find is radical polarization – different groups of people living in different worlds, populated with utterly different facts.

你可能会找到的是两极分化的激进观点,生活在不同世界里的不同人群,脑子里填塞着的是迥然不同的事实。

Many people want to blame the “social media bubble” - a belief that everybody sorts themselves into like-minded communities and hears only like-minded views.

有很多人想要归咎于“社交媒体气泡”,即相信每个人都会把自己归入志同道合者的群体中,并且只听取志同道合者的观点。

From my perspective as a philosopher who thinks about communities and trust, this fails to get at the heart of the issue.

从我这个思考群体和信任的哲学家的角度来看,这没能切中这个问题的要害。

In my mind, the crucial issue right now isn’t what people hear, but whom people believe.

在我看来,当前的关键问题并不是人们听到了什么 ,而是人们相信的是谁。

Bubble or cult?

是气泡还是邪教团体?



An echo chamber leads its members to distrust everybody on the outside of that chamber. And that means that an insider’s trust for other insiders can grow unchecked.

一个回声室会引导其成员猜疑这间回声室外面的所有人。而这就意味着,一个内部人对其他内部人,不经核验就能发展出信任。

Two communications scholars, Kathleen Hall Jamieson and Joseph Cappella, offered a careful analysis of the right-wing media echo chamber in their 2008 book, “The Echo Chamber.”

两位传播学学者,凯瑟琳·霍尔·杰米森和约瑟夫·卡佩拉在他们出版于2008年的书《回声室》中,给出了对右翼媒体回声室的细致分析。

Rush Limbaugh and the Fox News team, they said, systematically manipulated whom their followers trusted. Limbaugh presented the world as a simple binary – as a struggle only between good and evil. People were trustworthy if they were on Limbaugh’s side. Anybody on the outside was malicious and untrustworthy.

他们写道,拉什·林博和福克斯新闻的团队有组织地操纵着他们的粉丝去信任某个人。林博展现给观众的世界是一个简单的二元对立的世界,表现为一种只发生在善与恶之间的斗争。只要站在林博一边,便成了值得信赖的人。任何外部的人都是心怀恶意且不值得信赖的。

(译注:拉什·林博是美国保守派广播脱口秀主持人,全美第一名嘴)

In that way, an echo chamber is a lot like a cult.

这样看来,回声室是很像邪教团体的。

Echo chambers isolate their members, not by cutting off their lines of communication to the world, but by changing whom they trust. And echo chambers aren’t just on the right. I’ve seen echo chambers on the left, but also on parenting forums, nutritional forums and even around exercise methods.

回声室会孤立其成员,而这并不是通过切断他们和世界的沟通渠道,而是通过变换他们所信任的人。而且回声室不只存在于右派中,我见过左派中的回声室,它们也存在于育儿论坛、营养论坛,甚至围绕着锻炼方法也会产生。

In an epistemic bubble, outside voices aren’t heard. In an echo chamber, outside voices are discredited.

在一个认知气泡中,外部的声音是听不到的。在一个回声室里,外部的声音是没人信的。

Is it all just a bubble?

这仅仅是一个气泡吗?

Many experts believe that the problem of today’s polarization can be explained through epistemic bubbles.

很多专家相信,现如今这个两极分化的问题可以用认知气泡来解释。



Do social media feeds limit people’s ability of being exposed to a wider variety of views? Daniel Krason/Shutterstock

(图解:社交媒体上的订阅,是否框限了人们接触更多样化见解的能力?)

According to legal scholar and behavioral economist Cass Sunstein, the main cause of polarization is that internet technologies have made the world such that people don’t really run into the other side anymore.

根据法学家和行为经济学家卡斯·桑斯坦的说法,造成两极化的主要原因是网络科技已经打造出了这样一个世界,置身其中的人们不会再真正地遭遇到另一方了。

Many people get their news from social media feeds. Their feeds get filled up with people like them - who usually share their political views. Eli Pariser, online activist and chief executive of Upworthy, spotlights how the invisible algorithms behind people’s internet experience limit what they see.

很多人是通过社交媒体上的订阅来获取新闻的。他们订阅的对象挤满了和他们类似的人,这些人通常会转发他们的政见。线上活动家兼网站Upworthy的首席执行官伊莱·帕里泽,让公众注意到了人们网络体验的背后那看不见的算法如何框限了他们能看到的内容。

For example, says Pariser, Google keeps track of its user’s choices and preferences, and changes its search results to suit them. It tries to give individuals what they want – so liberal users, for example, tend to get search results that point them toward liberal news sites.

比如,帕里泽说,谷歌会记录其用户的选择和偏好,并为了满足他们的需要而改变其搜索得到的结果。它试图给到个体他们想要的内容,这样一来,比如说自由派的用户,就容易得到能把他们指向自由新闻网站的搜索结果。



What’s going on, in my view, isn’t just a bubble. It’s not that people’s social media feeds are arranged so they don’t run across any scientific arguments; it’s that they’ve come to systematically distrust the institutions of science.

在我眼中,正在发生的情况可不只是一个气泡那么简单。并不是说人们的社交媒体订阅是安排好的于是他们就碰不到任何符合科学的论点,而是他们慢慢开始有组织地不信任科研机构。

This is an echo chamber. Echo chambers are far more entrenched and far more resistant to outside voices than epistemic bubbles. Echo chamber members have been prepared to face contrary evidence. Their echo-chambered worldview has been arranged to dismiss that evidence at its source.

这是一个回声室。回声室远比认知气泡来得根深蒂固,对来自外部声音的抗拒,也远比后者强烈。回声室中的每一个成员都已经准备好了面对反证。为了从源头上摒斥证据,他们那有如回声室一般的世界观已经作好了安排。

They’re not totally irrational, either. In the era of scientific specialization, people must trust doctors, statisticians, biologists, chemists, physicists, nuclear engineers and aeronautical engineers, just to go about their day. And they can’t always check with perfect accuracy whether they have put their trust in the right place.

他们也并不是完全失去了理性。在这个科学专业化的时代,人们仅仅为了过好自己的日子,也必须去信任医生、统计学家、生物学家、化学家、物理学家、核工程师以及航空工程师。而通常,他们也无法去核验自己的信任是否万无一失地安放在了对的地方。

An echo chamber member, however, distrusts the standard sources. Their trust has been redirected and concentrated inside the echo chamber.

然而,回声室中的成员是不信任标准(信息)源的。他们的信任已经被导向过,而且会集中在回声室内部。

To break somebody out of an echo chamber, you’d need to repair that broken trust. And that is a much harder task than simply bursting a bubble.

为了能让人从回声室中摆脱出来,你必须修复已经破碎的信任。而这个目标可远比仅仅戳破一个气泡来得艰难。