Mapping the world's opinions

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Does the marketplace of ideas work? Show more Show less

It is said that truth is found where opinions intersect. The marketplace of ideas is the figurative town thoroughfare where zealots and intellectuals barter, subjecting their ideas to the gauntlet of public debate. Much how the best goods and services may rise to the top in a free market economy through innovation and competition, truth and the soundest ideas and philosophies may rise to prominence through rigorous and honest questioning. But is it really that simple? Does it work?

No, the marketplace of ideas does not work Show more Show less

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The empathic fallacy

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The empathic fallacy is defined as “the belief that one can change a narrative by offering an alternative narrative in hopes that the listener's empathy will quickly and reliably take over.”

The Argument

The marketplace model infers that notions of common humanity, decency, and rationality will prevail against ideological forces like racism, sexism, classism, and other prejudices.[1][2] The sad fact is that this just cannot happen in modern society and such a notion is an empathic fallacy.

Counter arguments

This is an appeal to emotion and precludes that the aim of a countering narrative is a change of heart in the individual in question. Instead, sensible ideas raised to the public consciousness that hold up to scrutiny will outweigh and supersede those that cannot. Censoring things like hate speech drives those who hold such views into echo chambers where they are validated and never subjected to any criticism or analysis. It’s here where those ideas may become dangerous. Allowing hate speech into the open air allows the public to see it for what it is and soundly reject it while dismantling it in the process. In short, give hateful ideas the rope and they will hang themselves. Insulating people from speech they find disagreeable or hateful robs everyone of constructive debate. This is part of the reason for the civil unrest and turmoil in modern society; hate speech is a catch-all term being assigned to anything that breaks the social justice mold.



Rejecting the premises


Further Reading



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This page was last edited on Thursday, 2 Apr 2020 at 12:43 UTC