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back to article Prof: Extremists tend to dominate debates

Psychologists in America have revealed a shock insight from a recently-announced study: people with extreme or "deviant" views are much more willing to share their opinions than those with moderate ideas. This is thought to lead groups or communities actually composed mainly of moderates to acquire an extreme character. The …

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TRT
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Nick Griffin

So, it's a good thing that the BNP are going to be on Question Time tonight?

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Go

Well...

...duh!

It's the same principle as spoiled children. Scream, kick and make a public nuisance of yourself to get what you want.

I like the report though - hopefully it'll pave the way for use extreme moderates, whose only extreme-beliefs are that everyone else so far has constantly f-ed things up, and it's time for some new thinking and common sense.

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The US right wingers...

...do this every day. Every single white, right wing Christian fundamentalist preacher believes the whole of America is on his side. (And it is, with the exception of Ann Coulter, always a he.) That's why they were so outraged when Obama won the presidency - it proved they weren't in the majority and they've been screaming blue murder ever since.

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Silver badge

It's called "risky shift"

and has been well documented since the 70's

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Grenade

Why did...

.. I immediately think of those screaming that the changing climate is all our fault ?

A grenade ? Seems appropriate !

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Plausible

Isn't this just saying that most people are A) moderate and B) not interested in shouting out for their views? In which case, it is true. I agree that people with extreme views are more likely to expound them or as we call it, be loud mouths. And it makes sense that hearing something often enough you may, if not come to agree with it, at least come to believe it is normal for others.

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Go

@TRT

Sure it is. Giving the odious twerp enough rope to hang himself in front of millions of people can only be good for democracy. Silencing Sinn Fein on TV didn't kill off their support in the 80s, not that I would do a Red Ken...

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pro-alcohol more vocal

It could just be that drunk people shout more.

The fervent anti-grog brigade may be just like everyone else, and it could just be pro-grog people who think everyone is with them, because they're drunk. Alcohol is shown to increase your self confidence.

This study needs to be re-run on a topic where one extremity of the specturm of opinion could be unaturally confident.

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Pint

Old news

"The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, but wiser people so full of doubts."

(attributed to Bertrand Russell)

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Anonymous Coward

Being a deviant

means not being part fo the general 'norm' so you must know you're in the minority. If you're part of the majority then that becomes the 'norm'.

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Troll

Commentards...

Or, people desperate for attention will adopt views more likely to get themselves noticed!!!

Yes this means you!!!

Oh, and me I guess....

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Anonymous Coward

the oxygen of publicity

> So, it's a good thing that the BNP are going to be on Question Time tonight?

It speaks volumes about the distorting lens of the media that a euro MP representing a single issue viewpoint gains extensive national exposure while other minority interest groupings - greens, communists, muslim / jewish groups etc are marginalised.

Give these extremists the oxygen of publicity and their hateful views will thrive.

The disproportionate and selective media focus, as demonstrated by Noam Chomsky and Ed Hermann, constitutes a kind of censorship which is undoubtedly manipulated by certain groups to push their agenda.

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Flame

You cannot put a compromise on a banner

The statement of the bleeding obvious.

You cannot put a compromise on a banner and gather the crowds under it to storm the Bastille. Compromises allow sustaining, not advancement.

Same as the positive thinking. You cannot make a crowd throw itself onto the bayonettes via a feel-good fuzzy positive thinking message. They have to hate to do that. Similarly, if you want a group to create something revolutionary you have to give them a pet hate object. A golden standard of "how this should not be done". They can from there on derive the "how to do it" themselves and they will often do it much better than a "positive idea" formulated by a visionary.

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Anonymous Coward

The end to democracy

So this eventually will lead to the end of democracy as each group becomes more and more extreme till one group starts a revolution. And then the cycle starts all over again.

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Pirate

@James 5

Strangely I thought the opposite to you.

The ones with the biggest mouths about climate change are the deniers - they tend to use extremes like "all to do with us" instead of the the indisputable (scientifically) "we are contributing to".

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Anonymous Coward

or to quote another old adage

empty vessels make the most noise.

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Thumb Up

Well Then!

"The US right wingers... #

By Dennis O'Neill Posted Thursday 22nd October 2009 14:26 GMT

...do this every day. Every single white, right wing Christian fundamentalist preacher believes the whole of America is on his side. (And it is, with the exception of Ann Coulter, always a he.) That's why they were so outraged when Obama won the presidency - it proved they weren't in the majority and they've been screaming blue murder ever since."

COMMENTS!

Now with 60% more IRONY!

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Gav
Boffin

@James 5

"Why did I immediately think of those screaming that the changing climate is all our fault ?"

What's more interesting is why you, as an extremist in climate change denial, felt able to voice what you thought.

My theory is that the anonymity of the interweb negates any reluctance that loud mouths may have in voicing an "extremist" viewpoint that no-one else shares.

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Grenade

"pro-alcohol extremists"

Sounds like my sort of terror campaign !

Let's wipe those soft-drink canning facilities off the face of the earth !!!!

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Big Brother

polls

Some research should be done if extremist type of people, or strongly opinionated ones are more inclined to participate in voluntary polls. I always wonder when reading some poll or survey: who are these people who are willing to fill one in? What's their motive?

Anyway a perfect recent demonstration of the trick-cyclists' research was the perception of the liberal faction in Iran that a majority of their country were supporting their viewpoints and wanted 'change'. The more accurate polls have demonstrated the election outcome was a good reflection of the actual sentiments. Strange enough it was hardly picked up by most media, even here.

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Alien

Bgeh

Another press release from DOBO by any chance?

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Troll

A marked similarity to nuptial precipitation.

@AC Well Then!: If you have to write "irony" in all caps you don't have the slightest idea of what it is.

Which, in a curious reversal of Russell's paradox, may actually be ironic.

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Alert

Everyone thinks just like I do don't they?

One of the first lessons learnt in Social Science Research Methods 101 is that everyone tends to think differently – and this seems to come as a shock to most people.

It isn’t just extremists who think everyone else thinks like them, it is most of us.

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FAIL

Hmmm

Social psychology has a weak track record in studies with broad generality. As it's a long reach from college drinkers to adult political attitudes, this one seems more like a preconception in search of any shred of analogous support. And, as pete 2 pointed out, this is just another variation of (uncited) previous work.

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students anti-alcohol

Don't forget these are US students, not British (or Irish or German)

a) They are not 'of legal age' to drink until they're nearly finished college and

b) they're middle class and law abiding

as a result, contrary to what you see on TV, most go to most parties sober.

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Megaphone

heavily polarised nature of US politics

That's just the idiots talking. Pay no attention. They're off their meds and only out for a day at a time.

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Paris Hilton

Predictable

".. I immediately think of those screaming that the changing climate is all our fault ?"

Because these people are of course "the minority."

In reality, only Andrew and a few dudes who could as well be in the orbit of the 9/11 truthosphere are saying so.

Extremists think that most people think the way they do? Well, my dear Victor, the experience was a success!

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@AC 15:13

If I may be permitted to misquote Linda Smith:

I'm upset enough that they have the oxygen of oxygen, let alone the oxygen of publicity.

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Anonymous Coward

In Other News:

The Pope reiterates his commitment to Catholicism.

Bears spotted defecating in deciduous forest.

Study discovers that squeaky wheels are lubricated more often.

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Status Quo

Wouldn't the (participants' perception of) status quo ante play a significant part in this? Those anti-alcohol people need not shout so much since the rules are already in their favour.

In the climate change debate there is both a call out to the perceived silent majority and to the 'proper' objective interpretation of facts.

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FAIL

Humm

Isn't the anti-alcohol majority that are the extremist viewpoint in this scenario, given that it is they who are actually quite happy to be trampling on the liberties of others? Who says extremists are defined by being in the minority?

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Grenade

Death...

... to all fanatics!!!!!

But seriously, "the more you hear these extremists expressing their opinions, the more you are going to believe that those extreme beliefs are normal for your community," explains Morrison.

And what about us "extremists" who, like Voltaire say "I disagree with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it"?

(NB before anyone starts setting up straw men, you have the right to express an *opinion*, you do not have the right to call on others to cause harm to those you don't like, ok?)

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@ STurtle Posted Thursday 22nd October 2009 14:59 GMT

"The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, but wiser people so full of doubts."

(attributed to Bertrand Russell)

Why didn't he add "I think..."?

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Silver badge

So, basically ...

If you repeat it often enough, and in enough places, the sheeple will believe it?

I think the word I'm looking for is "Duh!".

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... and most drivers think they are better than average

Perception != reality. Since when has that been news.

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@hammo

"as a result, contrary to what you see on TV, most go to most parties sober."

You've never actually been enrolled at Stanford University, have you?

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Anonymous Coward

Duh...

Won't somebody PLEASE think of the children!!!

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Unhappy

a few good men needed

As was known after the fall of the Nazis

"Evil prevails when Good men do nothing"

It is a shame our society is breeding ignorance and a generation so engrossed in consumerism that we are following the same path as before.

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Therefore

This is why Democracy is such a bad idea, and pretty much the opposite of freedom.

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Flame

@ A marked similarity to nuptial precipitation.

I most certainly do understand the propper use of the word ironic, and the comment was, indeed, most ironic.

The literal meaning of the comment demonstrated how the irrational behavior of certain groups/individuals mirrors that of the extremists described in the main article and how this was a negative phenomona, but did so in a tone that is itself consistent with said levels of irrational fervor. This meets the definition of irony because the literal meaning of the text is incongruent with the implied meaning; the author is decrying the attitudes of others, whilst assuming those same attitudes when making that pronouncement.

It is ironic in the same sense that the statement "Extremism is bad, therefore all extremists must be hunted down and locked away." is ironic; it both literally decries extremism but implicitly espouses it.

Also, you seem to have missed the reference being made by the capital letters. I was purposefully imitating the overwrought manner in which television advertisements present products, placing undue emphasis on key words in order to draw attention to product features (often of dubious value and expressed in ambiguous units).

Moreover, the claim that you can tell whether or not an author understands the correct usage of word based solely on capitalization is, without substantial evidence, quite absurd.

Your move.

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Boffin

@ Kwac

"@James 5 #

By Kwac Posted Thursday 22nd October 2009 15:46 GMT

Strangely I thought the opposite to you.

The ones with the biggest mouths about climate change are the deniers - they tend to use extremes like 'all to do with us' instead of the the indisputable (scientifically) 'we are contributing to'."

Would it not be more correct to state that "we are utterly incapable of determining, with any degree of certainty, whether or not humans contribute to climate change, as making such a determination is impossible due to the observer’s paradox," so long as we are talking in terms of absolutes.

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This post has been deleted by its author

Flawed

I think this study is significantly flawed. I would guess that you would find a correlation between those students who are pro-alcohol and extroverted thinking (that is, the preference to solve problems externally), and those students who are not pro-alcohol and introverted thinking (the preference to solve problems internally). My guess is that this is because where you get alcohol, you also get uninhibited social environments - something which attracts extroverts more than introverts. It's quite easy to see why extroverts would offer up their views and debate more than introverts would. I want to see a much wider set of tests before taking any heed of this.

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