Learned a new term today: incestuous amplification

Paul Krugman taught me a new term today:

Back during the early days of the Iraq debacle, I learned that the military has a term for how highly dubious ideas become not just accepted, but viewed as certainties. “Incestuous amplification” happen when a closed group of people repeat the same things to each other – and when accepting the group’s preconceptions itself becomes a necessary ticket to being in the in-group. A fundamentally flawed notion – say, that the Germans can’t possibly attack though the Ardennes – becomes part of what everyone knows, where “everyone” means by definition only people who accept the flawed notion.

Krugman goes on to apply this to claims about what “almost no mainstream economists,” but it’s equally applicable to my observations about academic philosophy.

  • trucreep

    Maybe the insidious relative to confirmation bias? Nonetheless, its scary to think of how real the consequences of this could be.

    • trucreep

      Insidious relative of! OF!!!!!

  • http://deusdiapente.wordpress.com J. Quinton

    Reminds me of Yudkowsky’s Cached Thoughts.

    Though I’m kinda bummed that I never heard of “incestuous amplification” before, even though I was in the military during the (2nd) Iraq war.

  • http://www.sunstonescafe.com/ Paul Sunstone

    So, it would seem “epistemic closure” creates a condition for “incestuous amplification” that sometimes results in “zombie ideas”. It interests me that we seem in need of new terms to describe and explain how the Right arrives at and maintains its ideas.

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