“Echo Chamber” Watch…

I saw this ridiculous article on the front page of the New York Times: “Climate Change Enters the Therapy Room/Ten years ago, psychologists proposed that a wide range of people would suffer anxiety and grief over climate. Skepticism about that idea is gone” by Ellen Barry. I wasn’t going to post on it, though I was tempted to ask, “Why is this pathetic, paranoid women made crazy by exactly the kind of climate change hysteria propagated by the Times worthy of such attention, or any attention at all?” However, I’m buried in more useful issues already. Then Ann Althouse, for some reason, blogged about it, with a long quote including “They came wrapped in plastic, often in layers of it, that she imagined leaving her house and traveling to a landfill, where it would remain through her lifetime and the lifetime of her children. She longed, really longed, to make less of a mark on the earth. But she had also had a baby in diapers, and a full-time job, and a 5-year-old who wanted snacks. At the age of 37, these conflicting forces were slowly closing on her, like a set of jaws…”

As she often does, Althouse just teed up the thing for her commenters to swing at. Had I written about it, I would have concentrated on how the Times, like the rest of the media, takes no responsibility for its role in driving once normal people like the woman in the story nuts. The exact same phenomenon is occurring regarding the Wuhan virus. The mindless terror the news media seeded about Donald Trump–still is seeding–is another example.

But what impressed me about Ann’s post were the comments, 130 of them last I checked. They were almost all the same. Maybe I missed a dissent or two, but essentially they followed this reaction, in varying degrees:

You spend twenty years telling people to be hysterical about climate change you get people hysterical about climate change. The simple fact is, developed nations are better for the environment than developing nations, and the US is better than almost everyone else. There are more people alive today than ever before, and they have a higher standard of living than ever before. Poverty, the default state in history, is at an all time low. Fossil fuels did that.

Where were the climate change advocates? That cult is, I thought, one of the defining characteristics of Blue America. Ann doesn’t let her commenters argue with each other, so they weren’t fearing any beat-downs. Althouse has always been regarded as middle-progressive, but if there are any typical progressive climate change obsessives among her readers, they sure ducked this one. Althouse also doesn’t allow any comment to post automatically (unlike Ethics Alarms, which gives established commenters a pass), so I have to assume the progressives simply didn’t dare to defend climate change anxiety—which, in my experience, is very common among the woke.

I wonder if the so-called conservative “echo chambers” or “bubbles” are really just enclaves of rationality that have evolved as the Left  jumped the shark over the last few years, or as Bill Maher put it, “went mental.” The true-believers can’t hold their own in most debates, and they won’t venture into environments where pure faith and talking points aren’t good enough.

12 thoughts on ““Echo Chamber” Watch…

  1. Yes, I scanned through all 130 comments and didn’t see even one that defended her neurosis as a rational.

    The extended quote even includes the line: “…anxiety that is both existential and, many would argue, rational…”. I guess not that many (or they don’t read Althouse).

  2. One of the most basic functions of the Left’s stranglehold on mass media, academia, and Big Tech, has been to promote the false sense that the debate is over, their point of view has won, and if you disagree you are weird and alone. That’s the real reason most news sites have shut down comments, because they tended to provide instant disproof of that.

  3. I think I started reading Ann Althouse a couple of years before discovering Ethics Alarms. My impression is that the large majority of her regular commenters are more conservative than Ann herself.

    • How would THAT happen? It happens because she works hard to be unpredictable and independent,, and because, as with EA, she was critical of how the news media and Democrats treated Trump without being a fan of Trump’s, just giving credit when it was due, and pointing out the perpetual, unfair, relentless attack. That was enough to drive the progressives away.

    • “My impression is that the large majority of her regular commenters are more conservative than Ann herself.”

      As a lifelong resident of the municipality Ann calls home, (The 77 Square Miles Surrounded By A Sea Of Reality), and where the loudest voices are (IMO) cluelessly hive-minded ideologues, this provides measure of personal comfort.

  4. I would guess the left avoids what they consider right wing echo chambers for the same reason I don’t read the NYT. They find them insulting.

    • Honestly, who’s going to waste time and energy trying to have an intelligent discussion on a comment board where the pther side will just hit you with a tide of personal, sexual, scatological, and other disgusting insults? It’s worse than a waste of time, it’s deliberately getting yourself stressed and upset, and there’s just no time for that.

  5. This article in yesterday’s WSJ was fascinating – it seems to bemoan the challenges of modeling the complexities of the factors that affect (“what are we calling it this week?” – checks notes) ‘climate change’. For example, while some may argue that the following sentence supports the efforts of the modelers, others (like me) consider that it is yet another example of “We know the right answer – we just need to get our models & data to support it” ‘science’:

    The scientists would find that even the best tools at hand can’t model climates with the sureness the world needs as rising temperatures impact almost every region.

    Got it. You just need faith. Like any other religion.
    Climate Scientists Encounter Limits of Computer Models, Bedeviling Policy


  6. Rather than obsess over what Ann Althouse is doing or prompt your readers to build their own non-NYT echo chambers, you still haven’t made the leap to understanding that the New York Times itself is now hosting fascinating, legitimate debates in its well-moderated comments section. You didn’t open the 514 comments to this article, did you? Because here’s some of what you will now prominently find:

    From SK in New York: “I thought this was an Onion headline. There are bigger issues than climate change to contend with in every human being’s life. Life is much bigger than any one political issue. Anxiety, especially about issues that you don’t do anything meaningful about, has become a badge of honor and mark of identity amongst certain progressives, a form of self-flagellation that you see in extreme religious sects. Climate change politics has moved to the arena of dogma and it is impossible to have reasoned discussions on measures to mitigate it.”

    From David H in Northern Virginia: “No disrespect intended, but Ms Black is a classic case of someone with garden variety psychological problems (i.e., those that plague most people) displacing her anxieties onto an issue over which she has precious little influence. The net result is inertia and an inability / failure to acknowledge or deal with her real problems.”

    Of course there are many other comments endorsing the article or engaging in environmental advocacy as they see it. But that’s a real debate. And yes, it’s going on at THE NEW YORK TIMES. Make your readers aware rather than making fun of it. It’s not the summer of 2020 and, indeed, there is movement in the “blue” or “left” part of the country back to the center of various things that this blog needs to recognize, and is OFTEN represented in a full reading of the New York Times. Which is good because we need fewer echo chambers all around.

    • Comments don’t justify publishing a stupid article, or erase the hypocrisy of a publication that has worked so hard to encourage climate change hysteria now writing about what its success has wrought.

      • And I would agree that this article was flawed in a way that you sometimes see with these newfangled beats like “Ellen Barry covers mental health,” since they edge into partisan advocacy by virtue of the writer’s own interest in the matter. The writer needed to work harder to expose “the other side of the story,” meaning valid diagnoses that these therapy clients may be displacing their own problems onto a global issue favored by their own politics.

        There’s a hint of it in this passage: “The field’s emergence has met resistance, for various reasons. Therapists have long been trained to keep their own views out of their practices. And many leaders in mental health maintain that anxiety over climate change is no different, clinically, from anxiety caused by other societal threats, like terrorism or school shootings.” But Ellen Barry fails to explore it further, and that helps to lead into your caricature of the issue.

        However, the idea that this entire field of inquiry is bogus is incorrect and frankly constitutes sticking your own head in the sand. As I’ve told you privately, all of the outside lawn and tree vendors in my suburban neighborhood talk openly about how climate change has affected their work over the last five years or so. None of these vendors remotely come from “woke” or probably even liberal political communities. They’re all white guys from the outer rings of the Washington-Baltimore metropolitan area who never went to college, or hard-working Latinos of the exact demographic that analysts believe are shifting Republican because of their social conservatism. Yet they ALL say this.

        In no way am I saying that anything I do to prevent plastic bottles from plopping into a landfill makes any difference compared to the pollution that China spews out in its 50 metropolitan areas that are larger than Detroit, or anything like that. I also don’t know whether what’s been going on is a cycle or something new. And wait wait don’t tell me: The Grapes of Wrath. Still, IT’S AN ISSUE. Failing to acknowledge that qualified people see it and are concerned about it is echo chamber stuff indeed.

  7. When I was a kid I was pumped full of dumbed-down cartoon depictions of a world destroyed by too much trash and pollution. Most of it was not accurate in any sense, and in hindsight it’s almost as if certain boomer adults had a fetish for tormenting kids with visions of their almost-certain apocalyptic future. I’m coming around to the idea that it should be considered child abuse.

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