Echoes of covid misinformation

Philosophical Psychology 36 (5):931-948 (2021)
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Abstract

Public support for responses to the coronavirus pandemic has sharply diverged on partisan lines in many countries, with conservatives tending to oppose lockdowns, social distancing, mask mandates and vaccines, and liberals far more supportive. This polarization may arise from the way in which the attitudes of each side is echoed back to them, especially on social media. In this paper, I argue that echo chambers are not to blame for this polarization, even if they are causally responsible for it. They are not to blame, because belief calibration in an echo chamber is a rational process; moreover, the epistemically constitutive properties of echo chambers are not optional for epistemically social animals like us. There is no special problem of echo chambers; rather, there is a problem of misleading evidence (especially higher-order evidence). Accordingly, we ought to respond to misinformation about COVID neither by attempting to dismantle echo chambers nor by attempting to make people more rational, but rather by attempting to supplant unreliable higher-order evidence with better evidence.

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Neil Levy
University of Oxford

References found in this work

Echo chambers and epistemic bubbles.C. Thi Nguyen - 2020 - Episteme 17 (2):141-161.
Reflection and disagreement.Adam Elga - 2007 - Noûs 41 (3):478–502.
Fake News and Partisan Epistemology.Regina Rini - 2017 - Kennedy Institute of Ethics Journal 27 (S2):43-64.
Experts: Which ones should you trust?Alvin I. Goldman - 2001 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 63 (1):85-110.

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