Vertical Information?

Intellectuals and social thinkers are bemoaning the rise of vertical information. Vertical information (my term) means the contemporary ability of people to consult sources of knowledge and perspective that agree with what they already believe. Blogs, like this one, websites, specialized magazines, and other media have become so numerous that people can become intellectually isolated from views that differ from their own.

The fear is that without exposure to other views our political system will become even more polarized than it is now (a claim without merit but that is for another time). The reasoning goes like this. If we only listen to what we like, then we become willing accomplices to our own propaganda, which in turn reinforces our biases.

Of course the people raising these fears are not conservatives but, you guessed it, liberals or people who call themselves independents, which is just another term for a liberal as independents are those who can’t bring themselves to admit it. Why are the liberals worried about this? Well they are discovering that their grip on the major media in the U.S. is crumbling. Newspapers are finding it difficult to maintain profitability. TV news which is really little more than a continuous comedic serial show that is repeated across the major networks does little more than become an echo chamber for the latest press release.

Even our major universities, which claim to be bastions of diversity, are actually bastions of every stripe of liberalism. Academic freedom means the freedom to be a liberal, often at tax payer expense. Don’t believe me? Ask yourself, how many conservative thinkers did you read when you were in history, sociology, or political studies class? Federalist papers? Von Mises? Thomas Reid? Os Guinness? Adam Smith?  any of the variety of Evangelicals? I didn’t think so.  Now think of how many liberals you read, Karl Marx, Sartre, Foucault, the wide array of angry Feminists, Hume, Derrida, Rorty, etc.  Yea, I thought so. The result to every single of the global pupils in commitment is to snap to investigate using this one ghostwriting service.

So why are these people concerned about vertical information? They are concerned because they are losing their influence. Don’t get me wrong, the public is certainly not conservative. But the liberals know that a sizable number of conservatives no longer have to listen to the left and their constant whining that the problem with the world is that some people earn more than others.

So while I appreciate the value of a classical liberal education (that only a conservative school can provide), I want to assure those on the left that conservatives do hear the other side. We are exposed to the other forms of information. Everytime we pay our taxes, learn about how a judge legalizes some form of perversion, or reduces our control over our lives and property, or how we have to pay the price for someone else’s irresponsibility, we hear the other side loud and clear. We turn to vertical information sources in order to get a brief respite from our crumbling society not to bury our heads in the sand and abandon it.

Stephen Vantassel

  1. Hello Stephen, I hope I am a liberal, but I like to be as well informed as time will allow. Who are these conservative intellectuals and which of their works would you have me read? Incidentally, if you can find a short talk mythleftistmedia.ra you should listen to it. I tried to send it with this response but was unable to do so.

    Peter

  2. Hello:

    I am curious who these liberals complaining about ‘vertical information’ are. I do not think that they represent liberals as a whole. There are a tremendous number of liberals who blog, and who dislike the mainstream media.

    As an example, if you will read:
    http://shakespearessister.blogspot.com/2008/06/richard-cohen-concern-troll.html
    you will find a liberal feminist blogger disagreeing with a semi-liberal media writer who is complaining about ‘vertical information’ in the same way you were describing.

    While many of those who have or had media/academic influence may resent their loss of said influence, I do not believe there is a conservative or liberal slant to this resentment; it is rather a case of old media versus new media. The liberal new media has exactly the same trouble with the old media that the conservative new media does.

    Brianna

  3. Brianna and Peter,

    Yes, liberals are aware of and are using blogging etc. The press in the U.S. is decidedly liberal. They are the one’s complaining because they lack the control over these other sources of information. In the U.S. conservative talk radio dominates A.M. airwaves. Liberals hate it because it has been a powerful force in debunking and objecting to many of their claims. Sorry for the confusion.

    Peter, I listed a few intellectuals on the blog. Here are some more as memory serves. Abraham Kuyper (church and state issues), E. Calvin Beisner (economics environment, poor), Von Mises, C.S. Lewis, Francis Schaeffer,

  4. > The press in the U.S. is decidedly liberal. They are the one’s complaining
    > because they lack the control over these other sources of information.
    > In the U.S. conservative talk radio dominates A.M. airwaves.

    Well, most of the liberals I know hate Fox News, and cable news generally…

    But I believe you misunderstood my point. As demonstrated by the liberal blogs who dislike mainstream media, the defining characteristic of those who dislike alternative media, is that they are *mainstream*, not that they are liberal (although many of them are). As per your position, it seems you should be against the mainstream media in general – don’t blame liberals for something they are not responsible for as a group.

    As an afterthought – are you treating ‘classical liberal’ and ‘conservative’ as synonyms? Your argument would be much more cohesive if this were the case, but as a classical liberal, I do not consider myself a conservative – I was under the impression that the two groups were completely different.

  5. If by classical liberal, you mean the Western tradition of individual freedom, representative democracy, and free-monetary markets than no. Liberalism in the U.S. and Conservatism in the U.S. both come out of that broad tradition.

    What I mean by conservatism is the belief that government’s role is to make a fair playing field, to set the rules and may the best person win. Liberalism in the U.S. and in most of Western Europe is designed to punish those who have a perceived advantage in order to make people who are not equally qualified, equal. In short, liberals seek equality of results, conservatives seek equality of administration of rules.

    As for the news, I am not sure I understand your comments about cable news in general. CNN is not a bastion of right wing views. I think it is important to distinguish the fact that some liberals complain about the media because it is too corporate and therefore it is too conservative in that the corporations are afraid to make waves due to fear of losing money.
    Fox news is certainly hated. I personally don’t watch it much. But I think that its conservatism is pretty tame.

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