Isolated as I am in my Nordic fastness, with only the snow and kindly and rational Swedes around me, all the news I receive from Britain is from Facebook, the Guardian online, and emails from like-minded friends. Nearly all of it is on the ‘Remain’ side of the Brexit argument, as also, incidentally, are most of books I get recommended by Amazon. The only exceptions are occasional quotations from ‘Leavers’, cited by Remainers simply in order to illustrate how stupid the latter are. Very few of those address the fundamental arguments, rather than merely repeating the mantra: ‘the people voted, accept it’. In other words, the whole debate on the ‘Leave’ side seems to be about the validity of that referendum of June 2017, rather than the issue that the referendum was (supposedly) about. So far as the present merits of Britain’s exiting the EU are concerned, the Brexiteers appear to have shut up shop. This gives the impression that they have no constructive case to make for Brexit, to counter the tsunami of evidence and forecasts that is coming out against it; which leaves one thinking that, on the underlying question, the Brexiteers have lost the rational argument. Why can’t they see that?
It occurs to me, often and somewhat uncomfortably, that one reason may be the kind of information that I am being fed by Facebook and the rest, which is carefully calibrated to fit in with my existing views. After all, this is what those ‘algorithms’ were shown to have done so effectively in both the Trump election and the Referendum, wasn’t it; albeit on the other side? Maybe If I were fed with a better balance of opinions, I wouldn’t necessarily change my mind, but I might respect the countervailing case more. I don’t know. But if those nerdish ‘hidden persuaders’ were so successful in moving the ‘people’ then, there’s little reason why they can’t influence the most critical (and even self-critical) ‘intellectual’ too, by controlling what we read, hear and see.
Clearly I need to get my name ‘algorithmed’ in a way that will allow me to receive arguments which at present don’t appeal to me. Perhaps a link to Moggy’s ‘European Research Group’, or the Daily Mail website, might do it. I’ll try it. Though I can see my mental digestion deteriorating as a result.