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discourse
Their.tube

Have you ever found yourself wondering how it’s possible that people believe the things that they do? The truth is, they’re probably wondering the same about you.

The reason for this disconnect is the algorithms we all rely on to filter and curate the news we consume. Because these algorithms are trained to give us more of the content we’re already drawn to, the way that the world is presented to each of us can look vastly different. Exposing these differences is why their.tube was created:

Theirtube is a Youtube filter bubble simulator that provides a look into how videos are recommended on other people’s YouTube. Users can experience how the YouTube home page would look for six different personas. Each persona simulates the viewing environment of real Youtube users who experienced being inside a recommendation bubble through recreating a Youtube account with a similar viewing history.

The personas currently available are: liberal, conservative, prepper, climate denier, fruitarian and conspiracist. Take a look. It’s genuinely alarming to see the stark contrast in how the world is presented.

Why Do You Think What You Think?

You probably think of yourself as a reasonable person. You’re smart. You think things through. You get your information from sources that you trust. But not so fast. As tempting as it is to think that this is enough to ensure you’re covering your blind spots, we’re still hopelessly vulnerable to the subtleties of language…continue reading on Medium…
"The essence of meditation practice is to let go of all your expectations about meditation."
Take Good Notes.

Seth Godin with a little reminder that as much fun as it is to talk, sometimes it pays to just stop and listen.

There are plenty of opportunities to expound on our version of the world. Every once in a while we have the rare chance to explore someone else’s.

How Do We Share Freedom Of Speech?

The most simplistic definition of freedom would be “the ability to do whatever we want whenever we want to”. A wild animal, for example, is free in this way. It can go where it pleases and sleep when it feels like it. It can behave however it chooses. Wild animals are constrained only by their…continue reading on Medium…
A More Specific Letter On Justice and Open Debate aka The Counter Letter.

Around a week ago I linked to Harper’s Magazine’s Letter On Justice and Open Debate. At the time I thought of it as an almost overtly non-controversial attempt to highlight our growing inability to talk openly and fairly with each other. The letter is carefully peppered with references to the dangers fo right-wing ideology and the demagoguery of Donald Trump in order to signal which side of the debate the writers were on so I presumed there would be little controversy.

Clearly it was naive of me to be so optimistic. Within hours a fierce backlash had erupted on Twitter, not so much because of the content of the letter, but because of some of the people who had signed it. The focus was, and apparently continues to be, on the fact that disagreeing with someone on trans issues say, means that it’s wrong to agree with them on free speech (obviously we should only consider the opinions of those who have never been wrong).

It’s as if those who object to the Harper’s letter simply can’t wrap their heads around the idea that the wealthy and prestigious signatories, who indeed are in no danger of being fired or de-platformed, signed this letter precisely because their status allows them to speak up on behalf of those whose jobs are less secure and whose platforms are less established.

Those who have chosen to stand behind a message of free speech have not, as the counter letter claims, “reinforced the actions and beliefs of its most prominent signatories.” Whatever flaws it may have, the Harper’s letter seems to be a sincere plea for people to be able to express their views without having to fear for their livelihoods. The fact that a number of the signatories of this counter letter chose not to do so anonymously, suggests that they may have a point.

When Everything Is Stupid, Nothing Is.

Maybe you’ve been feeling it too, this creeping sense of horror at how stupid the world is becoming. Maybe you’ve been watching as fully grown adults throw literal “throwing produce out of their trolley” tantrums because they’ve been asked to wear a mask during a worldwide pandemic. Maybe you’ve read that claim that robots, dogs, climate activism, the White…continue reading on Medium…
Why it’s worth listening to people you disagree with.

Zachary Wood on the importance of exposing ourselves to viewpoints we disagree with:

To prepare myself to engage with controversy in the real world, I joined group that brought controversial speakers to campus. But many people fiercely opposed this group, and I received significant pushback from students, faculty, and my administration…yet tuning out opposing viewpoints doesn’t make them go away because millions of people agree with them. In order to understand the potential of society to move forward, we need to understand the counterforces. 

An Open Letter To The Woke.

Forgive me for beginning so abruptly, but what you’re most confused about is who you are. This isn’t an attack, just a fact. I mean go ahead, who are you? Can you express it in words? Exactly. You have a name and family. Maybe you have a job. You look a certain way. Your genitals…continue reading on Medium…
The Perils of “With Us or Against Us.”

Conor Friedersdorf on the danger of righteous anger turning into self-destruction.

When I was 21, the United States experienced a national trauma: the planes crashing into the World Trade Center, the nearly 3,000 people killed in that day’s terrorist attacks, the ruins left smoldering for months at Ground Zero, and the unnerving knowledge that sooner or later, al-Qaeda would almost certainly strike again.

Thoughtful deliberation is never so difficult as in such moments. Like tens of millions of other Americans, I felt fear, anger, anxiety, flashes of moral righteousness, and a desire to fight and vanquish evil as I thought about what had just happened and how America ought to respond. With hindsight, though, I can see that thoughtful deliberation is never so vital as in the aftermath of national traumas.