I much prefer the sharpest criticism of a single intelligent man to the thoughtless approval of the masses. – Johanness Keppler
The overwhelming majority of people voluntarily imprison themselves in their own echo chamber. This is a fact of human nature that we must all understand.
Most people don’t want to seriously consider opinions that they disagree with, and the majority do not want to be intellectually challenged in any meaningful matter. Criticism, in particular, can be very unpleasant if it is approached with the wrong mindset. Those with many personal insecurities and who don’t maintain a growth mindset tend to take criticism the worst, and thus, typically attempt to avoid it altogether.
All of these facts develop the echo chamber; the analogy that you’re alone in a hollowed chamber, and whatever you say is going to bounce back to you without interference. This fundamental aspect of human psychology dooms most people to their own brand of thinking, which becomes an impassable hurdle to their own growth.
You must avoid this mindset for your own growth and development. Remaining in your own echo chamber — by remaining closed-minded to the world and by only hanging around people that will not challenge you — will not only cost you a significant amount of intellectual development as a man, but it will also cost you money, opportunity, and power.
How The Echo Chamber Develops
A large part of the echo chamber stems from the tribalistic nature of human thinking. Since our hunter-gatherer days, a significant portion of human identity has stemmed from identification as a member of a tribe. Other tribes are outsiders, whether this is between vegans and meat-eaters, Romans and barbarians, Apple and Microsoft, and so forth.
People tend to believe the common statements within the group they’re in. Outsiders are outsiders, and the group identity remains paramount, although the extent depends on individual personality and culture as well. Most of the time, group beliefs are accepted “as-is” and many of a group’s beliefs are rarely if ever challenged by its members.
Additionally, this means that fitting others into opposing groups and stigmatization is the most effective way to persuade people that their side is both correct and more moral. The manner this is weaponized is well explained in the book Rules for Radicals, the modern liberal playbook, which tells “radicals” to “take a target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it.” This method is easily more persuasive to a group than to argue facts and fosters a powerful group-think mentality. This doesn’t have only a direct implication on politics, but on human psychology on a fundamental level.
Note that this occurs despite evidence to what the facts actually are. In absence of expertise and/or hard evidence, the human mind tends to believe the sheer plurality of people who are backing a particular statement. This is especially true if these statements are echoed by those who you believe are like you, and if they have a strong degree of perceived authority. Only the most skeptical will avoid this pitfall.
Another contributing factor to the echo chamber is that people naturally want to be around people they share their beliefs with. This phenomenon is easily observed on social media; Twitter feeds, for instance, are mostly loaded with those who people agree with. This is true about the real world as well, of course. In your own life, consider how many of your best friends share many of your strongest beliefs and values.
The process of networking and making friends also develops the echo chamber. Friendships largely build based off of commonality, and friends are generally less likely to insult or criticise friends as much as they are enemies. People in the process of climbing the ranks, in particular, are generally more hesitant to openly criticise those who they want to gain status and power from.
Once you perceive someone as friendly to you, you naturally find reasons to like and often support him. You’re naturally inclined to say better things about him and less negative things. Therefore, people often make friends at the expense of criticism that may actually benefit them.
This is not inevitable, however; the truth can come out if it’s encouraged. Everyone knows that person who is known for speaking their mind (to varying degrees, practically nobody says what’s on their mind all of the time), but that person tends to be the exception rather than the rule. With most people, you have to specifically ask them to tell you the truth about something in private.
Perhaps the last contribution to the development of the echo chamber is that most people don’t have the desire or intellectual honesty to attempt to escape their own biases as much as possible. The majority of the population doesn’t want to believe things that are opposed to their current views. Instead of using uncomfortable facts to add to their worldview to grow and expand, they would prefer to shut those facts out and find easy excuses to ignore them.
If you think about the mainstream media echo chamber that has existed for decades and was collectively surprised when Donald Trump won the 2016 election, you’ll see that it exists for all of these reasons.
On almost all networks, MSM reporters cannot put forward true conservative opinions without being exiled. In order to network and climb the media ladder, one must publicly agree with the establishment views. Polls were consistently and blatantly oversampling Democrats, yet the collective group-think of the media ignored this fact and virtually everyone in the MSM believed he was going to lose. Most of them never took the time to consider the viewpoints and facts of the alternative media.
To complete the overall point here, you should know that the human mind is much more capable than just seeing things as black versus white. The mind, despite its tendency to view the world on a basic evolutionary level before it rationalizes its beliefs afterward, is obviously more than capable of seeing others’ viewpoints and expanding its own understanding. Depending on the person, it typically takes a little encouragement, but it can absolutely be done.
Escaping Your Own Echo Chamber
To intellectually expand ourselves, we must examine our own biases to understand why we think the way that we do.
Remember that bias is an inevitable fact of human nature.
If you believe you’re not biased, think again. Your own opinions develop from your life experiences, your perception of your abilities, your confidence in yourself, your insecurities, your sense of identity in the world, and so forth.
This is true of every human being on this planet.
Learn to question your own belief system. In detail, ask yourself why you believe in what you believe in, and where your prevailing opinions on the world started. This can range anywhere from beliefs about your own abilities, to facts of life you believe, to your political beliefs, to feedback from your hobbies and what you do for a living.
Since you’re reading a site that values open-mindedness, masculinity, self-development, and working for yourself rather than being a leech; you’re on the right track and probably have a more productive, logical approach to life than most people. Most likely you read plenty of other related sites as well whose authors share most of the same values.
Although your value system may be superior to most people’s from a moral and societal perspective, this doesn’t mean that many of your beliefs and viewpoints aren’t prone to some of the simplistic, tribalistic thinking that every human is susceptible to.
To examine your belief system, it is extremely wise to write your own journal and ask yourself thought-provoking questions. Do not underestimate how powerful this can be. Jordan Peterson’s self-authoring suite is also a very popular method of doing this and ultimately, learning much more about yourself.
Open Yourself to “Opposing” Viewpoints
Perhaps the most important thing you can do to open your mindset as a man is to understand the viewpoints of others and to open yourself to factual information that might not support your current views. This alone separates you from probably 90%+ of the world’s population.
Examining your beliefs is best done in your down time alone or during an intellectual discussion, not in the heat of a spirited debate where your ego is a factor in your decision-making process.
For instance, ask yourself when you are watching two groups argue about politics; what group appears to have the most logical information behind their ideas? Which group is making the more emotional appeal? Which group is trying to shut down the free speech of the other? Which side has the most credibility, based off of logical information and previous and current behavior? What possible motives might they have? Where might their biases lie?
Although you should open yourself up to all possible facts, you must be able to determine a source’s credibility. Credibility comes from being consistently correct about well-researched facts, and sometimes correcting information that was deemed to have been incorrect. If you watch CNN regularly, you’ve missed the memo on credibility.
As an example of examining current viewpoints, the other day, someone I knew that is fairly open-minded stated that the Great Depression was made better by FDR’s “New Deal” programs. I asked he why he believed this. He thought to himself for a moment and told me it’s because he learned it in high school.
Bingo. I told him not to believe everything he believed in high school because history in high school is government-revisionist (history tends to be written by the “winners”). Then I gave him this article. One should always look up the things they thought for sure were facts that they learned when they were a kid. The information I provided changed his mind on this long-held belief.
The point is not that everyone can change their minds this easily, but instead, to provide an example of someone who needed a little encouragement to challenge a long-held belief.
Many of the world’s most successful businessmen will tell you to listen to all information, even what you don’t want to hear. Many of the best businessmen listen to the people that work both with them and below them and learn to understand inner desires of the market they serve. When the market is telling them something, they listen and act.
When I want to improve, I ask others to give it to me real. I need to know what people are really thinking. People may still have their reservations about telling the full truth about what they think, but encouraging them to tell you what’s closest to the truth as possible will still get you closer to it.
This said, a truthful, especially thoughtful compliment is great as well. But I want to hear criticism of my own work if that criticism is going to make me better at what I do.
You should do this too.
The echo chamber is a powerful blockade of intellectual development. A man should always remain open-minded to factual information, even if it does not support his current view of the world. This said, even if you can rationally determine that the “other side” is blatantly lying, you should still be aware of what they are saying and why.
Additionally, men must learn and grow from inconvenient facts and criticism. This does not mean you need to be apologetic or to take criticism to heart, but instead, to understand the viewpoints of those who criticise you and what their motives are in order to improve yourself and your mission.
If you don’t do these things, you’re shutting yourself out to a ton of information that you can learn and grow from. You’re closing yourself off to a mindset that is essential to your own success.
Remember these lessons, and take them with you for the rest of your life as you seek to spur your intellectual and masculine development.
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