How the marketplace of ideas went rogue | Eli Pariser

How the marketplace of ideas went rogue | Eli Pariser

I’ve been thinking a lot recently about this
idea of the marketplace of ideas. And in civics class we learned that this is
the way that the truth kind of comes to the top, that the best ideas displace the worst
ideas. But I think it’s a better metaphor than it
intends to be, in the sense that marketplaces, as any economist will tell you, are not necessarily
the place where the best product comes to the top. There are all sorts of dynamics that determine
who wins and, in fact, if you follow disruption theory, which is in vogue in Silicon Valley,
it’s all about how actually a worse product can beat a better product in the marketplace. We have a marketplace of ideas in the bad
sense of that term, not the good sense of that term, where what wins in the marketplace
may not be fair, it may not be right and certainly it may not be true, but it’s based on this
very reductive set of rules of supply and demand. We’re all trying to grapple right now with
what that means when there are less kind of institutional gatekeepers who are holding
in check which ideas are competing with which other ones. But it turns out there are ideas that are
very appealing and very contagious that are either completely untrue or that are appealing
to our worst instincts about each other. Nobody wants some random person off the internet
to do their brain surgery, right? Experts have a place in our society and journalism
is a form of expertise. And I think that’s gotten obscured by a couple
of things. One is that journalism is often presented
right alongside opinion content and that’s actually really confusing to people. And so I think audiences have come to see
that some of this content actually isn’t expertly developed content or it isn’t developed according
to this specific expert process, and some of it is. And they think: ‘I can’t tell the difference
so I’m going to downgrade my assessment of the whole profession.’ The trust that we’ve put in a lot of these
institutions I think legitimately has been misplaced or it’s been, you know, I think
there are ways in which big media institutions have not truly had the interest of their readers
or viewers at heart. You have to acknowledge that in order to get
to winning back that trust — and I don’t think there’s any way to do that other than
to actually root your concerns in the concerns of the people you’re serving which is a challenging
job to do, especially in a dwindling advertising market, but which I think is the only way
back to making people feel like this person is actually serving me. And I think that’s reinforced by the business
model, you know, there’s a reason that surgery isn’t paid for by advertisements. There’s an article that’s famous in startup
circles that describes what really matters in a startup’s culture. And the premise is: You can have whatever
set of values on the wall, but at the end of the day it’s who gets fired and who gets
hired and who gets promoted, that’s about 90 percent of what people observe to decide
how actually to behave here. And so if I have a big poster that says ‘We’re
going to act with integrity’ — but people who don’t act with integrity aren’t getting
fired. Then it doesn’t matter, right? So I think this is actually a really good
analogy for why these social spaces are so confusing because essentially what we have
on Facebook and on Twitter is a system where the same things that get you promoted also
get you fired. In other words, being sensational, being conflict-oriented,
rallying a tribe to your side — all of these are the things that elevate you as someone
who’s on Facebook or someone who’s on Twitter. It’s a thing that drives engagement. It’s a thing that rewards you up to a point
and then all of a sudden you’re banned from the platform if you’re Alex Jones or if you’re
someone who’s just a little bit too incendiary. I think what these platforms need to do, because
there’s no such thing as neutral, and because the values that get you promoted are really
out of sync with the values that get you fired or demoted, the only thing that these platforms
can do is state their principles and be consistent about them, both in terms of who gets to be
heard by lots of people and who doesn’t get to be heard at all. And I think that’s a challenging position
for them because some people will disagree with whatever values they state. If Twitter decides that respectful conversation
is one of their top values that’s going to privilege some kinds of conversation over
other kinds of conversation. It’s going to be better for some users than
others. But at least it’s a transparent principle
that we can all understand, that can be used to decide what the physics of this system
are. And right now I think we have this very confusing
set of conflicting signals where things are totally out of whack.

Comments (85)

  1. Sometimes I can hear my bones straining under the weight of all the lives I'm not living.

  2. Super videos 😊😊

  3. Sounds anti-free speech.

  4. Those who aren’t for free speech are the ones who are losing in the marketplace of ideas

  5. It's hard to have a functional marketplace of ideas when you have A LOT of people who refuse to even agree on the facts.

  6. Trum's pure shit and he`s shitting down the entire planet now

  7. Because the majority of people are stupids. Next question.

  8. This is what happens when need people with a specific skill but you hire students who have graduated in gender studies or minorities to do a job because you will be deemed discriminatory

  9. I, for one, get all my medical advice from youtube comments

  10. 1/2 right, even in plain news segments they are slanted and do this by
    Omitting certain facts
    Using old video footage
    Misrepresenting groups, individuals and situations.
    I.e the syrian rebels just used chemical weapons – but because it doesn't fit the "remove Assad from power" narrative – mainstream media are not even reporting on it,

  11. One of my favorite quotes
    "The right to freedom of speech is central, because it's the right by which you defend all the other rights"

  12. Laughable. Undoubtedly, Eli is a Leftist who sees the Left is losing in the arena of public debate, and has had an "epiphany". Free speech is now "problematic", and only the "unenlightened" support the notion of a marketplace of ideas. Leftists are so predictable.

  13. This guy is an idiot. What economist say is when the market is free and without government oversight and regulation . The consumer gets the best product for the cheapest. Not the absolutely best product not the cheapest product but the best of both and the ability to choose the cheapest or the best product. You are creating a false argument from the vary start. Big think stop being leftist propaganda stop lyeing to your viewers. Get a real economist like Thomas soul. Some one who actually looks at facts and evidence. This is just irritating bullshit.

  14. You're funded by the Koch brothers now? Unsubscribe.

  15. Why is there no such thing as neutral? Why can't platforms just not ban people for the things that make you successful on those platforms?

  16. The “expert” propaganda complex is in full panic mode.

  17. It’s hard to have a marketplace when one side is shouting down, pulling fire alarms, and throwing bricks at all opposition.


  19. Do you should really practice what you preach. You work for the Koch bro. Funny. Charles Koch is worth $60 billion and is super conservative. No disclosure on your part….

  20. Why is Lionel Messi talking about the marketplace of ideas?

  21. went rogue? what the hell does that mean? oh of course, you tyrannical wannabes want to control the marketplace of ideas.
    the marketplace of ideas is supposed to be 'rogue', duh.

  22. The marketplace of ideas has been infested with ideologies. Ideologies are not interested in truth or progress, only the perpetuation of the ideology and verifying the purity of its members.

  23. The ideas with the most money behind them win. Journalism (today) is the process by which large money interests convince people to vote and buy against their own interests.

  24. The core principles of most social media and media companies is clear… (!leftist && influence > leftist) ? ban();

  25. I want to hear all the opinions and facts, truths and lies. Regardless of what they are and if you or the Media or internet corporations trying to silence those opinions, truths or Lies than you have become my enemy. Censorship is what makes people stupid automatons. Incapable of forming their own opinions and do their own research.

  26. Within 30seconds one can determine if this man understands economics. Products don't win or loose in an economy. If they sell more, they sell more, if they sell less then they sell less. Not everyone can afford an iPhone. Not everyone wants an iPhone. Same applies to a Ferrari. More toyotas are sold than Ferraris. Has Toyota 'won't or 'lost? Neither. Toyota dont make cars for the type of people wanting to drive high quality sports cars…. The concept of winning and losing doesn't apply to the market place. Such regressive ways of thinking are that of a socalist not a capitalist. Using a defunct analogy and applying it to the market place of ideas carrys with it the same systematic error.

  27. I um think you know that Aa you um would aa make a you know point without all the crap…

  28. Journalists think they can still gate-keep information like its 1999!

  29. These comments are full of leftist bullshit. These people can't possibly believe the shit spewing out of their mouthes.

  30. I live and breath neutrality…

  31. The economy has been morbidly unbalanced since greed has existed in powerful positions of any kind. The only solution is to have an awkwardly large abundance of material and consumables for EVERYONE to gorge on until their hearts content. Studying carbon atoms and there abilities to do a vast many different things is one answer to this actually rather simple equation. Also people need to stop giving a fuck about what others do behind closed doors unless of course it is inhumane and in which case needs to be stoped in the immediacy.

  32. A journalist seeing how people see journalism due to it's lack of integrity, makes a strawman, because of course the kids must be wrong.

    Journalism always had this problem, opinion pieces always existed, were always frequently set right beside "journalism".
    The thing is not the flaws in the marketplace of ideas, marketplaces aren't perfect but they are god damn better at ascribing value to things than governments. The problem is that free media is a thing, the only way journalism can survive it is by shedding all it's bias and agenda, as people only need help being accurately informed, but there's a plethora of people who will miss-inform them for free.

  33. The free marketplace of bad ideas.

  34. Is this guy for real?

  35. Codifying rules of discourse would absolutely make things more civil. But wouldn't it also just further entrench this tribalism we're all dealing with? How do you weed out the disingenuous trolls without resembling censorship? How do you sanction the "bad actors" without drawing those lines with political bias? I'm not sure you can. At least not easily. Frankly, I'd rather we figure out our shared spaces rather than further reinforce our differences.

  36. The most contagious idea by far is that all opinions have equal claim to the truth simply because they have equal weight as opinions; if I can say something and you can say the opposite, then the truth "must" be found somewhere between the two, its actual location now somehow infinitely "debatable" regardless of the subject. It's the reason we're now "debating" whether the Earth is flat or round. There is no distinction between someone's willingness to debate or refute something and whether or not it is debatable or refutable.

  37. it's a dwindling advertising market because people are simply walking away from that form of media

  38. who defines what's respectful? – I'd rather hear it all and decide on my own who to tune out and whom to listen to – I don't want people making that choice for me – the market will decide who's successful

  39. So how exactly much did the Koch family pay you guys to be a rent-a-voice?

  40. I disagree, as the best 'products' always rise to the top "over time" – it's about what 'sells' as defines a 'product' – the market will always decide in the end regardless of what some do to hinder its journey

  41. Modern journalism is opinion masquerading as fact.

  42. This video said absolutely nothing.

  43. If you want ideas to not be crazy you have to foster DIALOG. Leftists don't want to talk. In fact, leftist leaders explicitly discourage their followers from discussing politics with infidels. They are supposed to call us sexists, racists and homophobes. They are supposed to pressure dissenters to quit their jobs by dirtying their names. In the absence of dialog both sides have become increasingly crazy because there is no check on conspiracy and radicalism. The result is craziness. The left caused this. The left stopped communicating. I am a centrist. I belong to neither party.

  44. I hate the term "marketplace of ideas". Yuck

  45. The marketplace of ideas is a breeding ground for memes. It's not the best ideas that come out, but the ones that are best at spreading themselves.

  46. So the Koch's pay to have non-expert 'scientists' push a climate change denial narrative, and now that the populous is seeing through their BS and is pushing for fairness in taxation on the rich (ie to reverse the unsustainable top end tax cuts), they're indirectly claiming such ideas are rogue in the marketplace of ideas. No one should be surprised that as always they push for what benefits them and the rest of us be damned 🙁

  47. the press lost out when it decided to promote and value those best at making money – to be more important than those best at serious journalism

  48. Stop comparing "marketplace of idea" metaphor, to the actual capitalistic marketplace.
    This is just a METAPHOR.
    Yes the actual marketplace(s) has its flaws, but it's totally dishonest to transfer them to freedom of speech, only because of this metaphor…

  49. "Charles Koch Foundation", "Marketplace of ideas".
    Oop, there go my alarm bells.

    With that being said – Twitter, Facebook and Youtube (don't know why this site keeps not getting mentioned in these sorts of discussions) definitely could use more transparency in how they apply their policy on bans. The problem is that there's no incentive for them to do so without some sort of governmental interference forcing them to do so. You can't just expect tech companies to take stances that exclude a big portion of their audience by themselves. So all these "small government" far right dudes that are getting banned for being obnoxious twats on the internet would have to agree to let the government step in and regulate private companies. I'll take "irony" for 200, Alex.

  50. Not exactly a big think thought, more of a big punt.

  51. This video sponsored by Koch Industries

  52. Yo now the Koch Brothers are funding this shit…smh this is not good. These mother fuckers have their hands in everything!

  53. Marketplace of ideas : currently failing due to the asymmetry of information, just like the actual market.

  54. Vers dissatisfying. Not s specific enough. Anti free speech?

  55. Such genius, very insight, wow.
    Thanks for repeating what the internet has been saying for the past half decade. But as an idiot would say it.
    I have no idea what the point here is supposed to be.

  56. Am I the only one who feels more confused and actively stupider after watching this?

  57. How am I supposed to trust a news outlet for their take on politics when I watch the same outlet sitting in a puddle to pretend the water is deep, pretending they lean into the wind with people sauntering by behind them. The news seems filled with show people rather than ones trying to provide info. The Idea that the New York times lists Pewdie as a Nazi, was just the candle to show how bad it has gotten.

  58. And, um…um.

    Good content though

  59. That's not how disruptive technology works… it's not a worse product that does better… it is a product that is overlooked by incumbents because it appears worse, but actually has enormous potential to outperform the traditional technology.

  60. The end of the video showed "Big Think – Charles Koch Foundation", which is difficult to understand since the Koch brothers are at the forefront of disinformation in the US, with their denial of global warming, their libertarian 'think-tanks' etc

  61. Sounds like another talking head who doesn’t think, or want, people to make their own choices.

  62. My right ear enjoyed this speech

  63. The problem with the media giants is that while they publish rules by which to act that seem to be fair and honest, they put a human in charge of that and thet and it all goes to shit. Conservatives are constantly being "accidentally banned" or restricted by twiitter, facebook and google. They always claim things are hate speech even with basic disagreements. It works for them now because they have the power and left leaning people like it because they aren't getting targeted. But things always shift and what you believe and agree with will eventually become what is targeted.

  64. By default the marketplace of ideas give people what they want. The problem is that good or truthful ideas aren't necessarily what consumers want. A news outlet full of hysterical opinionated people usually gets more viewers than one full of dry or uncomfortable information.

  65. Koch Brothers propaganda

  66. Ever check mainstream old-media? You will notice that articles are often carbon copies to that specific group or topic. It isn't just lacking skill that anyone from age 7 can do these days but outright lazy. It isn't helped by the fact that they are usually more like expanded advertising of stories than factually accurate. Most outlets sell glorified storytelling. At that point the qurstion becomes what is the function of journalism if it isn't descrptions of the world events as they actuslly are? I for one have no interest in that so I seek my information myself directly from the oroginal source and without filters. I know a lot of journalism students who agree with this. A wise person would say that means journalists need to actually do their job properly and be journalists, but of course requires responsibility and actual effort.

  67. How disappointing to see Big Think be another company taking money from Koch's. If you post things they don't like the money will be cut off, if they don't already have editorial power.

  68. oh no he vaguely criticized a republican talking point he come the mindless conservative drones attacking everyone even if they disagree with this video or not

  69. Brought to you by Big Think and the Charles Koch Foundation?

    Um that’s not alarming at all…

  70. "… and Facebook killed truth"

    You're forgetting that Academia has spent decades trying to kill the idea of "Truth" – that's a core tenant of Post-Modernism. Post-Modernism (as I was taught in University in 2012-2013, when I was back there) doesn't believe that there is such a thing as "Truth", in the way we colloquially use the word. "The sky is Blue", for example, is only "Blue" because we have agreed that the colour that we see when we see the sky is going to be called "Blue". It's not "true" that the sky is blue – we could decide tomorrow that the sky is Zytrux, and then saying the sky is Blue would be false. And while that doesn't physically change the colour of the sky, it does change our perception of the sky, and that colour – which means that it isn't a "Truth" as we colloquially use the term. And there is also the idea of "My Truth" that is being looked at in the Social Sciences, where ones personal perceptions are "True" to them. When one person hears A, another person may hear Z – and both are equally "True".

    Which sounds crazy and insane and unworkable and when you take it out of the classroom and thought experiments, it's all that and more. And so the people who bring that out of the classroom into the real world have to find some way to rank the different "Truths" because not everything can be "True" all at once – which is where it merges with Intersectional Theory and BAM! A hierarchy of Truths is created, where My Truth is greater than Your Truth because of where I sit on the Intersectional Hierarchy.

    Then because this kind of insanity gets clicks and attention, it gets promoted by Media. Combine that with the failing of the traditional media and the threat of New Media and we get what we have now. And it's only going to get worse.

  71. I find it fascinating that the Charles Koch Foundation only requires the disclaimer, "The opinions expressed in this video do not necessarily reflect the views of the Charles Koch Foundation", on certain kinds of videos.

    But I'd like to know who actually thinks the "marketplace of ideas" is an engine for discovering what's true or good. Lies have a distinct advantage over truth in the "marketplace of ideas", because they're not constrained by observable reality or even reason. The marketplace only favors ideas that capture people's attention and motivate them to spread those ideas. Sometimes, especially shitty ideas also motivate people to vote against their best interests and their country's stability and integrity, or to send pipe bombs to their perceived enemies, or to shoot bullets into the bodies of the "wrong" kinds of people. When ideas like that capture people's attention, the marketplace has failed.

  72. The book burners of silicon valley are not to be trusted, or an of these thoroughly discredited and self appointed gate keepers.
    Nothings gone rogue, the left have had control over the narrative for far too long, and have become incredibly corrupt, their ideas incredibly fragile require the construction of every possible excuse to gate keep and censorship of opposing ideas. You might not like Alex Jones, but he was right, Hillary was sick, and the DNC did rob their own. Apply the same standards your lot did to him, you'd deplatform yourselves, but the only standard on the progressive left is the double standard so that will never happen. Like churches of old, you just fear people thinking for themselves, "going rogue" like the heretics of the past, and the attempts to burn them are just the same. Erasure off every platform, won't even have a paypal to pay your lawyer. Journalism isn't a form of expertise, its a practice, you perform an act of journalism, and journalism is now conflated with corporate talking heads busy manufacturing legitimacy. Their narrative so thin they fear the comment section, like with the churches of the past and their heretics.
    Its interesting to note he doesn't mention that the "facts" are poisoned upstream by his ilks complete dominance and corruption of academia. Fake experts in fake fields such as grievance studies manufacture fake studies and data which are fed to their fellow travelers in the media to produce propaganda. You see this with the "1 in 5" figure which was pushed into prominence by a fake study promoted by NPR, causing a decade of havoc, which NPR and the left have never taken responsibility for at all. In fact if you look at the case which inspired the original study, the case of Laura Dunn, it was also a likely case of false accusation. The ground work for lies and distortion of culture were laid for a decade, until they came out of Obama's mouth, and have even turned supreme court nominations into a circus show. This isn't about "internet comments", its the left unwilling to look at how much they are directly responsible for because they have done it so long that their entire ideology is built on top of a mountain of unexamined presuppositions, and with that foundation, they fear to look now.

  73. I find it kind of funny that a channel backed by the propaganda-wielding Koch brothers has the nerve to preach about free speech. Those who live in glass houses shouldn't be throwing stones.

  74. The main reason that bad ideas get credited is that the exam system in education rewards by-rote repitition – which is a thought process largely at odds with logical analysis.

    An authentic evaluation is most often unique. Worse, the exam process inadvertantly rewards blatant cheating because the results of by-rote answers always look identical. Thus crookery wins.

    Those who get the cash to begin promoting their product acquire that cash through deception. Then they use the cash to bribe and blackmail their way onto the market as a monopoly.

    The emphasis is on conformity and not innovation; on money rather than quality; and this fuels regression rather than progress. Anyone not shoveling money under the table is a threat to the corrupt status quo.

    If you consider the scope for ideas of spaceprobes to other stars. Search on the Astrosling and then ask yourself if there is anything in this class of vessel that better deserves development?

  75. "marketplace of ideas"
    A disingenuous slogan that translates to 'provide platform to my fascist propaganda or I will play the victim!'

  76. Okay this isn't about freedom of speech. This is about media being a shit show that promotes ideas based on an algorithm which does NOT optimize for best ideas. Nobody is saying that these ideas, good or bad should be silenced.

  77. And the next step is Censorship!

  78. Ugh. Thank you. This truth hurts.

  79. "experts" have gotten us into the mess we are in.
    See Iraq WMDs and 2008 financial crisis.
    The media blew it/abused thier power, stop whining.

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