The echo chamber is a term coined to characterize the seeming confirmation of news reports and other information, when in fact only repetition has occurred.
The process works as follows:
- News source “A” publishes a report. The report may or may not be accurate to some degree.
- News sources “B”, “C”, “D”, and perhaps others, re-publish the original report without performing any fact checking, often adding their own interpretation or speculation without adding any independent confirmation.
- Consumers see the report as coming from four independent, presumably unrelated sources, and give that report and often the accompanying speculation significantly more credibility than it would deserve if recognized as having come from a single source.
In reality it is not four independently confirmed sources, but rather a single source published, or “echoed”, three or more additional times.
Sadly this type of “reporting” is rampant on the internet today.
An echo chamber is a hollow enclosure used to produce reverberation, usually for recording purposes. For example, the producers of a television or radio program might wish to produce the aural illusion that a conversation is taking place in a large room or a cave; these effects can be accomplished by playing the recording of the conversation inside an echo chamber, with an accompanying microphone to catch the reverberation. Nowadays effects units are more widely used to create such effects, but echo chambers are still used today, such as the famous echo chambers at Capitol Studios.
In music, the use of acoustic echo and reverberation effects has taken many forms and dates back many hundreds of years. Medieval and Renaissance sacred music relied heavily on the composers' extensive understanding and use of the complex natural reverberation and echoes inside churches and cathedrals. This early acoustical knowledge informed the design of opera houses and concert halls in the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries. Architects designed these to create internal reflections that would enhance and project sound from the stage in the days before electrical amplification. Sometimes echo effects were the unintentional side effect of the architectural or engineering design, such as for the Hamilton Mausoleum in Scotland, which has one of the longest reverberation times of any building.