Echo chamber

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Keith Morris of the Circle Jerks: he looks like he would hurt your ears in an echo chamber
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The most frequent question we get asked about this show is why would assholes like Brian Brown or Michael Medved come on a show called Bullshit! to get called assholes. We do not lie to them. We make sure they know all about the show. We give them copies of past shows. And it's always pretty clear which side of the issue we're going to be on. The long answer is that people who come on this show genuinely consider themselves to be bulletproof. Most have never talked to anyone with a dissenting view, and certainly no one with a real research team, like ours. If you say something on our show, we check it. If you lie or make something up, we know. But we're fair and we never take people out of context. We're biased as all-fuck, but we try to be honest. Now that's the long answer. The short answer is, [shrug]
Penn Jillette, Penn & Teller: Bullshit![1]

An echo chamber, also known as an ideological echo chamber[2] or a circle jerk/circlejerk in internet slang, or the more longwinded closed ideology echo chamber,[3] is a closed ideological system where information, ideas and beliefs supporting its viewpoint are spread around uncritically, while dissenting views are censored and/or ignored. In business-speak, it is known as organizational siloing. Most echo chambers rely on indoctrination and propaganda in order to disseminate information (subtly or otherwise) that will coerce those stuck in the chamber into conformity, as well as preventing them from having the critical thinking skills required to discredit obvious misinformation.

Symptoms of the echo chamber effect include extreme wingnuttery and moonbattery, listening to Alex Icke, and believing everyone who believes something different to you is working for the Illuminati, the Rockefellers,Wikipedia Reptiloids, and/or an international Jewish conspiracy against the goyim. Other common features of echo chambers include: identification of the enemy and their beliefs (and thus discrediting anything that came from them), cultural tribalism,[note 1] the targeting of perceived enemies,[note 2] and the punishment of heretical thoughts and actions.[3]

How it works[edit]

It's also about closed systems of thought, whether they're political or theological, or religious, whatever. Systems by which whatever evidence is given to the person, he merely adapts it, fits it into his ideology. You show the same event to a Marxist and a Catholic, for example – both of them are fine, they both have separate explanations for it. ... I mean once you've got, actually got an idea which is whirring around so fast, that no other light or contrary evidence can come in then I think it's very dangerous.
John CleeseWikipedia on Malcolm Muggeridge's echo chamber (with regards to Life of Brian criticism).[4]

Observers of journalism in the mass media describe an echo chamber effect in media discourse.[5][6] One purveyor of information will make a claim, which many like-minded people then repeat, overhear, and repeat again (often in an exaggerated or otherwise distorted form)[7] until most people assume that some extreme variation of the story is true.[8]

Participants in online communities often find views similar to their own constantly echoed back to them, which can lead to a significant barrier in critical discourse during online communication. The echo chamber effect may also leave an impact on the recognition of large demographic changes if individuals only visit online communities that reinforce their worldview.[9]


Ideological echo chambers have been around for centuries, and many organised religions have been at the forefront of enforcing these ideologies, with harsh punishments for infidels, apostates, blasphemers and/or heretics who opposed these views. Nowadays, echo chambers impact people's views on a variety of topics, such as history, economics, politics, and are carried out through the media, and increasingly through the Internet via sites such as InfoWars, who are known for promoting almost every conspiracy theory under the sun.[3]

One example of the echo chamber effect in (somewhat) mainstream U.S. politics is with regards to Birtherism, as many people continue to believe Obama is "not a real American", despite all the evidence to the contrary.[10]

Many users on social networking sites (such as Facebook[2] and Twitter)[11] often live in echo chambers.

See also[edit]

External links[edit]


  1. The echo chamber concept is closely linked to tribalism, however it does not (necessarily) have the morally superior undertones that tribalism has. That being said, the two concepts do often go hand-in-hand, as anyone seeing Facebook comments on a political/religious/similar Facebook page can see for themselves.
  2. or even engaging in mass demonstrations of hate, such as the Two Minutes HateWikipedia from Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four. Although be warned when people bring up Orwell in conversation, as some of the people that Orwell's book influenced would have him turning in his grave right now.


  1. Penn & Teller: Bullshit!, episode 3.02, Family values
  2. 2.0 2.1 "Facebook 'fesses up to running an ideological echo chamber". The Register. 8 May 2015. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 What is ... a Closed Ideology Echo Chamber?, Another Angry Voice
  4. Friday Night, Saturday Morning - Monty Python's Life of Brian
  5. "Moon the Messiah, and the Media Echo Chamber". 
  6. Jamieson, Kathleen Hall; Joseph N. Cappella. Echo Chamber: Rush Limbaugh and the Conservative Media Establishment. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-536682-4. 
  7. Parry, Robert (28 December 2006). "The GOP's $3 Bn Propaganda Organ". The Baltimore Chronicle. 
  8. "SourceWatch entry on media "Echo Chamber" effect". SourceWatch. 2006-10-22. 
  9. Wallsten, Kevin (2005-09-01). "American Political Science Association’s Annual Meeting". Washington, D.C.: Department of Political Science, University of California, Berkeley 
  10. DiFonzo, Nicholas. "The Echo-Chamber Effect". The New York Times. 
  11. Marcus, Laura (22 October 2012). "Is Twitter anything more than an online echo chamber?". The Grauniad.