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January 10, 2004
Cass Sunstein on the echo chamber
Cass Sunstein piece on NASA's culture
and the stifling of dissent, which may have ramifications for the weblog world.
My research shows that on a three-judge panel, a Republican-appointed judge is often far more likely to vote conservatively when sitting with two other Republican appointees than when sitting with at least one Democratic appointee. The same is true for Democratic judges, whose liberal tendencies are dramatically amplified when they sit on all-Democratic panels.
Without knowing it, the Columbia investigators were identifying a pervasive social problem, one that unites these examples and that leads to many failures in the public and private sectors. In military circles, this process is called "incestuous amplification." Among psychologists, it is known as "group polarization."
In a nutshell: Like-minded people, talking only with one another, usually end up believing a more extreme version of what they thought before they started to talk.
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