Daniel Gross wonders how the “smart money” can have gotten British opinion so wrong? He lurches into the truth:
Now, in theory, we all live in a perfect market for information. With social media, television, and the Internet, most people have the ability to be exposed to information from a variety of streams and sources. We should be able to tap into all the sentiments that are out there.
But we tend to select — to friend and follow — those with whom we are sympatico. Even those who think they are open in principle to ideas they consider disagreeable tend to avoid those ideas in practice. (It’s only natural for people to seek the company of fellow members of their respective tribes.) When we curate our own feeds, it’s easy to block the information that makes us uncomfortable and fearful, and to include, amplify, and share the information that makes us feel comfortable and secure. When you have a particular worldview, and when you are surrounded by people who share it, you dismiss evidence contrary to your outlook. That poll showing that large numbers of people aren’t comfortable with the current arrangements? It must be an outlier.
Information theory addresses this issue neatly. There is a distinction between “signal”, the news and opinion articles, the polls, etc. with which you’re deluged, and information, usable information. Your preferences and beliefs and those of the people with whom you agree may just be noise.