Books and Bridges: Avoiding Echo Chambers and Repairing Social Trust

C. Thi Nguyen, Professor of Philosophy at Utah Valley University, will explore how echo chambers function in modern discourse to change whom we trust, control our attention, and alter the flow of information. The phenomenon is an old one — it is closely related to how cults work — but its effects are worsened through the gamification of social media and other technologies. We face a new version of Descartes’ crisis, but we need a different solution. The health of our society depends on our ability to repair eroded and manipulated trust. Professor Nguyen writes:

“Something has gone wrong with the flow of information. It’s not just that different people are drawing subtly different conclusions from the same evidence. It seems like different intellectual communities no longer share basic foundational beliefs. Maybe nobody cares about the truth anymore, as some have started to worry. Maybe political allegiance has replaced basic reasoning skills. Maybe we’ve all become trapped in echo chambers of our own making – wrapping ourselves in an intellectually impenetrable layer of like-minded friends and web pages and social media feeds.”

A Q&A and refreshments will follow. The lecture is free, open to the public, and made possible by a grant from Utah Humanities.

This event is organized by Books & Bridges — a community institute of ideas and conversation. Our mission is to facilitate discussion on the best of human thought. We explore the wisdoms of the world and apply them to modern life. We have no political, religious or ideological affiliation. In a society divided by uncivil discourse, the beauty of the humanities—novels, history, philosophy, poetry, ethics and epics—lifts us to our better angels. In our busy world we need space for friends and fellow learners to do a little more heart-to-heart and mind-to-mind.

Event date: 
Thursday, February 13, 2020 - 6:30pm to 8:00pm
Event address: 
607 Trolley Square
Salt Lake City, UT 84102