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Conformity and the Dangers of Group Polarization

Editor’s Note: This is excerpted from Conformity: The Power of Social Influences by Cass R. Sunstein, 198 pages, NYU Press (May 28, 2019)

When people talk to one another, what happens? Do they compromise? Do they move toward moderation? The answer is now clear, and it is not what intuition would suggest: members of deliberating groups typically end up in a more extreme position, consistent with their tendencies before deliberation began. This is the phenomenon known as group polarization. Group polarization is the usual pattern with deliberating groups, having been found in hundreds of studies involving more than a dozen countries, including the United States, France, and Germany. It helps account for many terrible things, including terrorism, stoning, and “mobbing” in all its forms.

It follows that a group of people who think that immigration is a serious problem will, after discussion, think that immigration is a horribly serious problem; that those who approve of an ongoing war effort will, as a result of discussion, become still more enthusiastic about that effort; that people who dislike a nation’s leaders will dislike those leaders quite intensely after talking with one another; and that people who disapprove of the United States, and are suspicious of its intentions, will increase their disapproval and suspicion if they exchange points of view. Indeed, there is specific evidence of the latter phenomenon among citizens of France.

When like-minded people talk with one another, they usually end up thinking a more extreme version of what they thought before the conversation began. It should be readily apparent that enclaves of people, inclined to rebellion or even violence, might move sharply in that direction as a consequence of internal deliberations. Political extremism is often a product of group polarization.

In the United States, group polarization helped both Barack Obama and Donald Trump to ascend to the presidency. Speaking mostly with one another, Obama supporters and Trump supporters became intensely committed to their candidate. On Facebook and Twitter, we can see group polarization in action every hour, every minute, or every day. As enclaves of like-minded people proliferate online, group polarization becomes inevitable. Sports fans fall prey to group polarization; so do companies deciding whether to launch some new product. It should be easy to see that group polarization is at work on university campuses and in feuds, ethnic and international strife, and war.

One of the characteristic features of feuds is that members of a group embroiled in a feud tend to talk only to one another, fueling and amplifying their outrage, and solidifying their impression of the relevant people and events. Many social movements, both good and bad, become possible through the heightened effects of outrage; consider the civil rights movements of the 1960s (and the contemporary #MeToo movement). Social enclaves are breeding groups for group polarization, sometimes for better and sometimes for worse.

There is another point, of special importance for purposes of understanding extremism and tribalism: In deliberating groups, those with a minority position often silence themselves or otherwise have disproportionately little weight. The result can be “hidden profiles”—important information that is not shared within the group. Group members often have information but do not discuss it, and the result is to produce bad decisions (or even worse).

Consider a study of serious errors within working groups, both face-to-face and online.1 The purpose of the study was to see how groups might collaborate to make personnel decisions. Résumés for three candidates, applying for a marketing manager position, were placed before the groups. The attributes of the candidates were rigged by the experimenters so that one applicant was clearly the best for the job described. Packets of information were given to subjects, each containing a subset of information from the résumés, so that each group member had only part of the relevant information. The groups consisted of three people, some operating face-to-face, some operating online.

Two results were especially striking. First, group polarization was common, as groups ended up in a more extreme position in the same direction as the original thinking of their members. Second, almost none of the deliberating groups made what was conspicuously the right choice, because they failed to share information in a way that would permit the group to make an objective decision. Members tended to share positive information about the winning candidate and negative information about the losers, while also suppressing negative information about the winner and positive information about the losers. Their statements served to reinforce the movement toward a group consensus rather than to add new and different points or to promote debate.

This finding fits with the more general claim, backed by a lot of evidence, that groups tend to dwell on shared information and to neglect information that is held by few members. It should be unnecessary to emphasize that this tendency can lead to big blunders—in governments, in think tanks, and on the Left and the Right. To understand this particular point, it is helpful to explore the three mechanisms that produce group polarization: information, corroboration, and social comparison.

With respect to information, the simple point is that people usually respond to the arguments made by other people—and the “argument pool,” in any group with some initial disposition in one direction, will inevitably be skewed toward that disposition. A group whose members tend to think that Israel is the real aggressor in the Middle East conflict will tend to hear many arguments to that effect, and relatively few opposing views. It is almost inevitable that the group’s members will have heard some, but not all, of the arguments that emerge from the discussion. Having heard all of what is said, people are likely to move further in the anti-Israel direction. So too with a group whose members tend to oppose immigration: group members will hear a large number of arguments against immigration and a smaller number of arguments on its behalf. If people are listening, they will have a stronger conviction, in line with the same view with which they began, as a result of deliberation. An emphasis on limited argument pools also helps to explain the problem of “hidden profiles” and the greater discussion of shared information during group discussion. It is simply a statistical fact that when more people have a piece of information, there is a greater probability that it will be mentioned. Hidden profiles are a predictable result, to the detriment of the ultimate decision.

With respect to the power of corroboration, the intuition is simple: people who lack confidence, and who are unsure what they should think, tend to moderate their views. It is for this reason that cautious people, not knowing what to do, are likely to choose the midpoint between the relevant extremes. But if other people seem to share your view and corroborate your beliefs, you are likely to become more confident that you are correct—and hence to move in a more extreme direction. You might think that on a scale of one to ten, the likelihood that climate change is occurring is seven—but if most people in your group agree that climate  change is occurring, you might move up to nine.

In a wide variety of experimental contexts, people’s opinions have been shown to become more extreme simply because their view has been corroborated and because they have become confident after learning of the shared views of others. The existence of confirmation from others will strengthen confidence and hence strengthen extremity. It can also make for mobs.

With respect to social comparison, the starting point is that people want to be perceived favorably by other group members, and also to perceive themselves favorably. Their views may, to a greater or lesser extent, be a function of how they want to present themselves. Once people hear what others believe, they adjust their positions in the direction of the dominant position, to hold onto their preserved self-presentation. They may want to signal that they are politically correct, whatever that means in their group. For example, they might want to show that they are not cowardly or cautious, perhaps in an entrepreneurial group that disparages these characteristics, and hence they will frame their position so they do not appear as such by comparison to other group members. And after they hear what other people think, they might find they occupy a somewhat different position, in relation to the group, from what they hoped, and they shift accordingly.

If people believe they are somewhat more opposed to immigration than most people, they might shift a bit after finding themselves in a group of people who are strongly opposed to immigration, to maintain their preferred self-presentation. This phenomenon occurs all the time. People may wish, for example, not to seem too enthusiastic—or too restrained in their enthusiasm—for affirmative action, feminism, or an increase in expenditures on national defense; hence their views shift when they see what other group members think. The result is to press the group’s position toward one or another extreme, and also to induce shifts in individual members.

Note that an emphasis on social comparison gives a new and perhaps better explanation for the existence of hidden profiles and the failure to share certain information within a group. People might emphasize shared views and information, and downplay unusual perspectives and new evidence, simply from a fear of group rejection and a desire for general approval. In political institutions and in companies, there is an unfortunate implication: group members who care about one another’s approval, or who depend on one another for material or nonmaterial benefits, might well suppress highly relevant information.

Group polarization is not a social constant. It can be increased or decreased and even eliminated by certain features of group members or their situation.

First, extremists are especially prone to polarization. It is more probable that they will shift, and it is probable that they will shift more. When they start out at an extreme point and are placed in a group of like-minded people, they are likely to move especially far in the direction with which they started. There is a lesson here about the sources of terrorism and political violence in general. And because there is a link between confidence and extremism, the confidence of particular members also plays an important role; confident people are both more influential (the “confidence heuristic”) and more prone to polarization.

Second, if members of the group think they have a shared identity and a high degree of solidarity, there will be heightened polarization. One reason is that if people feel united by some factor (for example, politics or religious convictions), dissent will be dampened. If individual members tend to perceive one another as friendly, likeable, and similar to them, the size and likelihood of the shift will increase. The existence of affective ties reduces the number of diverse arguments and also intensifies social influences on choice.

One implication is that mistakes are likely to be increased when group members are united mostly through bonds of affection and not through concentration on a particular task; it is in the former case that alternative views will be less likely to find expression. Another implication is that people are less likely to shift if the point of view or direction advocated is being pushed by unlikeable or unfriendly group members. A sense of “group belongingness” affects the extent of polarization. In the same vein, physical spacing tends to reduce polarization; a sense of common fate and intra-group similarity tends to increase it, as does the introduction of a rival “outgroup.”

Over time, group polarization can be fortified because of “exit,” as members leave the group because they reject the direction in which things are heading. If exit is pervasive, the tendency to extremism will be greatly aggravated. The group will end up smaller, but its members will be both more like-minded and more willing to take extreme measures, and that very fact will mean that internal discussions will produce more extremism still. If the strongest loyalists are the only people who stay, the group’s median member will be more extreme, and deliberation will produce increasingly extreme movements.

We live in an era in which groups of people—on the Left, on the Right, in university departments, in religious institutions—often end up in a pitch of rage, seeing fellow members of the human species not as wrong but as enemies. Such groups may even embark on something like George Orwell’s Two Minutes Hate. When that happens, or when people go to extremes, there are many explanations. But group polarization unifies seemingly diverse phenomena. Extremism and mobbing are not so mysterious. On the contrary, they are predicable products of social interactions.


Cass R. Sunstein is Robert Walmsley University Professor at Harvard and author of Conformity:The Power of Social Influences (2019). You can follow him on Twitter @CassSunstein


1 See R. Hightower and L. Sayeed, The Impact of Computer-Mediated Communication Systems on Biased Group Discussion, Computers in Human Behavior Volume 11, Issue 1, Spring 1995. 


  1. John Galt says

    Extremism, the art of smearing.

    The non-definability of “extremism” is simply a Package-dealing means of evading epistemological commitment.

    The best proof of an intellectual movement’s collapse is the day when it has nothing to offer as an ultimate ideal but a plea for “moderation.” Such is the final proof of collectivism’s bankruptcy.

    • Daniel V says

      John that really must sounds like something an extremist would say to avoid owning their extremism.

  2. Ray Andrews says

    Which is why people need to be explicitly taught the art of discussion. Charity, honesty and openness are the cardinal virtues. Beware the deadly sins of polarization and logical fallacy. Deliberately keep your limbic instincts in check. It used to be central to liberal education. Now we have grievance studies. Oh well.

    • GB says

      You had me at your second sentence until you closed with a ‘now we have grievance studies.’ How about some charity to those teaching it and some openness to it? The comments section on this site (and most sites) confirms the main point of the article.

      • Ray Andrews says


        ” How about some charity to those teaching it and some openness to it?”

        Fine, but surely at some point one can make up one’s mind that a doctrine should be resisted? I know that were I a German in 1932 I’d be swayed by the arguments of a certain postcard painter who wanted to make Germany Great Again. But I hope I’d also reject him later on when his evil became more manifest. I’ve been open to the arguments, and observing the agenda, of the Grievance people for decades now, and I’ve concluded that it is insane at best and outright evil, probably.

        • augustine says

          Ray Andrews,
          You’ve hit on something important here. When someone says, “What have you got against Socialism?”, the implication is that they are probably more reasonably minded or smarter than you, and that you have not done your homework on the subject. In many cases, it’s probably the start of a conversation soon to end or have no productive outcome. That can be a good thing of course.

      • Ryan G says

        Things I have read advocated [in apparent seriousness] in the Quilette comment section include:

        Climate change is a complete hoax
        Apartheid was good and should be reinstated
        Italians aren’t white
        All trans people should be murdered
        The left is the cause of literally every ill in the world

        For a website that is supposedly dedicated to a more refined and restrained discussion of controversial topics, and to lending an intellectual angle to conservatism, the comments around here sure do get “interesting.”

        • Ray Andrews says

          @ Ryan G

          “For a website that is supposedly dedicated to a more refined and restrained discussion”

          Claire tries. But you demonstrate the thesis of this article itself: groups tend to polarize. Quillette has already polarized strongly to the right. This is no one’s fault, it’s just the dynamic of group self-selection. I applaud the participation of centrists and lefties, but they often face hostility and I congratulate the few who remain for their guts.

          One more factor tho: The political climate is now such that it is mostly (unfortunately) centrists and righties who are interested in refined and restrained discussion. Lefties tend to prefer virtue signalling and put-downs and they tend to be proud of it.

        • Roy Coleman says

          ..oh, so Ryan, this article by a former Obama administration advisor lends ‘an intellectual angle to conservatism’ ? Lighten up, if you’ve watched Inherent Vice you’d know that Italians aren’t white – “they want Anglo owners on the strip”.

        • Scott M says

          Passive-aggressiveness is unbecoming. You should stop using it.

          What are you suggesting be done with your cherry-picking (without citation, but let’s forgo that and assume they’re 100% accurate of comments that have been made here), is that some gatekeeping person or device be employed to keep the more extreme voices from polluting the waters hearabouts? Where’s the line between unacceptable and more refined/restrained?

        • Stephanie says

          Ryan, your mistake is assuming it is appropriate for a publication dedicated to free expression to moderate out any politically incorrect opinion.

          Quillette is absolutely not conservative. The articles are pretty consistently Left, just not the extreme left you’re used to in the mainstream media

          • @Ryan, Quillette is not conservative; its founders are in fact liberal, and many articles are written by liberal-leaning authors. I understand your mistake, though, as nowadays anything right of far left is called “conservative.” You may be unused to people not using the far left talking points and, seeing them rejected here, assume this means most people here are conservative?

            The other issue is that ‘conservative’ has changed its meaning enormously in the past 5-10 years, as has “liberal.” I find that many ‘conservatives’ are more like liberals of old.

            At any event, I think you really cherry picked the most extreme comments here. Yes there are some obnoxious comments, but most of the comments are very thought-provoking and thoughtful, even when I disagree with the authors. And many commentators here are individualists, subscribing to no dogma except their own reason, and are good listeners. To use one example among many, I’ve often disagreed with @Ray Andrews, but I still find his comments usually quite thoughtful, as here (and i agree with him here). I enjoy Quillette for this reason.

        • Saw file says

          What’s very “interesting” is that I have never seen those comments, and I’ve been following this site since near the beginning. Any comments in the vein of your claims are immediately challenged.

          Are there sometimes ludicrous comments made? Of course there are. That’s the price paid for being an open forum of discussion.

          Your own comment is an excellent example.

        • Nakatomi Plaza says

          Exactly right, Ryan. This place is crazytown, and they don’t even know it. Even when they occasionally publish fair-minded, relatively apolitical articles like this one the posters here immediately go on a political rampage against the left. One of the comments above has somebody comparing “grievous studies” (already a loaded term) to the rise of Nazism.

          Yea, this place is a little nuts.

          • hail to none says

            I am beginning to suspect that NP is a closeted conservative. He/she constantly insults conservative viewpoints in the comment section (usually with name calling and without much engagement) yet can’t seem to help returning.

            There are always going to be crackpot viewpoints on an unmoderated site, but generally I find the level of thoughtfulness, articulation, and actual discussion/debate to be quite high on this website. Higher than, for example, the comments to pieces in the New York Times or Wall Street Journal (which are in turn higher than most other outlets).

          • ga gamba says

            Grievous error there by you, Nak. That it’s in inverted commas as well makes it quite the howler.

            Anyway, to help swing the commentary more to the left I say this: All, I beg you to violently attack anyone you think to be Nazis, far-right, and even merely right – they’re all adjacent, which is damning enough. Now that smears no longer work, what else is left in the bag of tricks? Slapjacks and bear repellent. Also, the centrists get it too.

          • peterschaeffer says

            NP, It’s ‘grievance studies’, not “grievous studies”.

  3. derek says

    I would state it differently. The intelligence of a group of people is equal to the inverse of the count. 3 people together are 1/3 as smart as any individual in the group. This definitely applies to children.

    • ibble says

      I have often thought the same. Glad to see someone else sees it too.

      • EK says

        As the old saying goes, none of us are as dumb as all of us.

    • Ray Andrews says


      It can work out that way, but the opposite can also happen. Just yesterday I had to move a rather big object into a rather tight space and there were three of us on the problem and it would not have been accomplished without input from all three of us. I would offer that the intelligence of the group in optimal, cooperative conditions is the square root of the number in the group. So the three of us were 1.7 x smarter than I’d have been alone. But this peaks at some small number — probably if there had been ten of us we’d have been really stupid.

      • Ray Andrews says

        … One might have some fun coming up with a formula. Trying to balance the possible improvements to collective intelligence vs. the actuality of increasing chaos as numbers increase, here’s a first stab at it (this in zsh):

        function MobEyeQue
        zmodload zsh/mathfunc
        setopt FORCE_FLOAT

        integer N
        float I

        while [ -n “$1” ]; do

        echo Number of people: $N. Effective intelligence: $(( 100 * ( sqrt($N) – (($N-1)/4) **2 ) ))

        2 $ . ./math.txt; MobEyeQue 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9

        Number of people: 1. Effective intelligence: 100..
        Number of people: 2. Effective intelligence: 135.17135623730951.
        Number of people: 3. Effective intelligence: 148.20508075688772.
        Number of people: 4. Effective intelligence: 143.75.
        Number of people: 5. Effective intelligence: 123.60679774997898.
        Number of people: 6. Effective intelligence: 88.698974278317792.
        Number of people: 7. Effective intelligence: 39.575131106459068.
        Number of people: 8. Effective intelligence: -23.407287525380973.
        Number of people: 9. Effective intelligence: -100..

        … so mostly depending on the Magic Number (4 in this case), we can have people getting collectively smarter (up to 3 people here), and becoming increasingly stupid above that number. And we should admit to the possibility of negative intelligence for mobs, no? Perhaps the magic number would be higher for more advanced and better organized peoples:

        • Ray Andrews says

          function MobEyeQue
          zmodload zsh/mathfunc
          setopt FORCE_FLOAT

          integer N
          integer M=8 #Magic number
          float I

          echo Magic Number: $M

          while [ -n “$1” ]; do

          echo Number of people: $N. Effective intelligence: $(( 100 * ( sqrt($N) – (($N-1)/$M) **2 ) ))

          3 /aMisc 2 $ . ./math.txt; MobEyeQue 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 15 20
          Magic Number: 8
          Number of people: 1. Effective intelligence: 100.
          Number of people: 2. Effective intelligence: 139.85885623730951
          Number of people: 3. Effective intelligence: 166.95508075688772
          Number of people: 4. Effective intelligence: 185.9375
          Number of people: 5. Effective intelligence: 198.60679774997897
          Number of people: 6. Effective intelligence: 205.88647427831779
          Number of people: 7. Effective intelligence: 208.32513110645908
          Number of people: 8. Effective intelligence: 206.28021247461902
          Number of people: 9. Effective intelligence: 200.
          Number of people: 15. Effective intelligence: 81.048334620741699
          Number of people: 20. Effective intelligence: -116.84890450004204

          … so these folks don’t get really stupid until there are quite a few of them.

          • Stephanie says

            Ray, if you had 10 people working on that task, I think the Pareto principle would imply that a few of them would do the heavy lifting (or in this case, thinking) and the rest would have contributed much less.

      • derek says

        It may be that in your particular instance the individual intelligences were quite high so even with the degradation of the group dynamics it was still pretty smart.

        More seriously, modern life has been made possible by systems and ways of thinking that allow large groups of people to be greater than the sum of it’s parts. Incentives or exigencies that apply individually drive the individuals to contribute to the group.

        These don’t come naturally, aren’t pleasant, and the inner workings are appalling to our sensitivities, because they directly address the reasons why groups go awry.

    • David of Kirkland says

      We certainly seem to take bigger risks and act more aggressively in groups. This is why friends tend to be bigger predictors of a person’s life’s outcome than parents. We’ll see what happens as children stop having real personal and proximate friends, and parents want to be the friends to their children.

    • Geary Johansen says

      @ derek

      A local farmer I knew, put your observation quite succinctly. ‘One boy’s a boy, two boys is half a boy and three boys is no boy at all.’

      Of course, this relates to labour and not intelligence, but similar principle nonetheless…

  4. Farris says

    “The answer is now clear, and it is not what intuition would suggest: members of deliberating groups typically end up in a more extreme position, consistent with their tendencies before deliberation began.”

    I failed to understand why this would be counterintuitive. Wouldn’t echo chambers naturally produce more extreme positions, especially when one upsmanship is factored in?

  5. S. Cheung says

    This article passes the eyeball test. I would suggest that it omits one base human tendency, in that people are lazy, intellectually and otherwise.

    That being the case, it is not surprising that people would prefer to consort with their in-group, because it is much less work to speak in an echo chamber than it is to speak amongst contrarian voices. That this is consistent with human nature is both predictable and troubling.

    It also passes the smell test that those within an “in”group try to out-worship others towards the in-cause, as if being more devout to the in-cause becomes a badge of honor of sorts. And this begets extremism, regardless of the actual nature of the content.

    And we live in an age more than any prior, in terms of the ease and abundance of methods for discovering your own personal in-crowd, and to participate and radicalize freely in the comfort of your own anonymity.

    So this article seems to tell us what we already intuitively know. THe much more difficult proposition will be what to do about it. How do people de-silo themselves, on a societal level, especially when that requires more work than simply maintaining the status quo.

    • E. Olson says

      Good comment SC, we shouldn’t attribute so many things we dislike to evil or stupidity, when laziness and comfort are a much more likely explanations.

      • Theodore A Hoppe says

        As Daniel Kahneman and others have pointed out, our preference for intuitive, fast thinking, as opposed to deliberative, slow thinking, can be attributed to the energy costs involved: our brains evolved in ways where it was better to be quick and wrong, when observing a rustling in the brush, let’s say, than to be slow and thoughtful and end up some animals dinner.
        Kahneman’s answer to this was to learn to respond in a manner that checks our reactions.

      • Ray Andrews says

        @E. Olson

        Yup. One of my all-time favorite rules is Hanlon’s razor: “Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.” An adjustment is to add “laziness” to ‘stupidity’. I’ve heard that this was first said by Napoleon.

    • David of Kirkland says

      Far too many cannot tell the difference between thinking about arguments and taking the contrary position for example regardless of your own thinking, and having those opinions or thinking you endorse them. Most opinions are wrong if they must be generalized and applied globally. Immigration is both good and bad. Modern education is both good and bad. Modern healthcare is both good and bad. Tax policies are both good and bad. Not to any given instance, but generally they create problems. Even our legal system continues to falsely convict innocent people despite the silly notion that convictions are the result of 12 peers being beyond a reasonable doubt, yet all 12 do get it 100% wrong in every false conviction.

    • Saw file says

      Near bull’s eye.
      I would add the rise of internet ‘motivation’ and ‘action’ that has (in some weird way) morphed with the inherent nature of most humans to be lazy, comfortable and complacent. It seems to have created some sort of “perfect storm” of societal conflict that is continually gaining in strength.
      I have to wonder when it will eventually implode, and what the results are going to be.
      My feeling is that it is not going to be positive for the whole. In fact, I fear the worst of outcomes.

    • D.B. Cooper says

      @S. Cheung

      So this article seems to tell us what we already intuitively know. THe much more difficult proposition will be what to do about it.

      I agree with you in that much of the article appeals to our intuitions. It seems obvious enough that self-preservation comes naturally; people self-segregate; and echo chambers yield echoes. To my mind, this is not provocative social science, nor would I expect to find a great many others who feel differently. To the question of ‘what to do about it’, I’m decidedly pessimistic on our securing the prospects for success, given the prevalence of group polarization – and the mechanisms that produce it – across space and time; notwithstanding the author’s assurances that it can be eliminated.

      But even if we grant the author’s premise that group polarization is not a social constant and that it can be excised with the right group dynamics; what’s less obvious, and what no one has stopped to ask, is that implied within the question of ‘what to do about it’ is an assumption that something ‘should be done about it’. But that’s not clear, is it? It is simply not the case that because something can be done, it follows that therefore something should be done.

      Before arriving at the question of what to do about it, we should have a firm answer to the cost of doing something about it. That is to say, whatever we may think of tribalistic tendencies, excising or mitigating them from social behavior patterns will almost certainly impose a cost via secondary and tertiary effects on other social goods. We hardly need reminding that nothing happens in a vacuum. I believe it was Sowell who first turned the phrase, there are no solutions, there are only trade-offs. In our rush to manufacture a more perfect union, we would do well to remember the human condition manifests not by happenstance, but by selection.

    • Optional says

      The solution is adversarial systems. Where the system takes advantage of the natural tendency (towards extremes), but forces a situation with more than one extreme.

      This is the “designated contrarian” principal. In which somebody is assigned to and graded on their ability to push back on the group think.

      We use this for justice, because we know group consensus on justice, is invariably wrong.

      We also used to use the contrarian principle in academia to dig out truth.
      You got fame for thinking up very something different (like relativity).

      But grievance studies and leftist group-think reward conformity.
      When the is an “arc of history” in your worldview that arc is going ONE place. Not many.

  6. Jochen Schmidt says

    Cass R. Sunstein on Quillette – great!

  7. Respek Wahmen says

    Maybe this piece isn’t fatuous, in the wider context of the book?

    What does it add to the following from Wilde? “Most people are other people. Their thoughts are someone else’s opinions, their lives a mimicry, their passions a quotation.”

    The author writes about NPCs being unable to reach compromise, as if they ever could, while also implying that this is a feature of all of us, and not just most; typical of whole and not just the non-self-evidently-necessary subset. How about education?

    And as good ole Hitchens put it in his debate with Blair:

    “Everyone in the civilized world has roughly agreed, including the majority of Arabs and Jews and the international community, that there should be enough room for two states for two peoples in the same land, I think we have a rough agreement on that. Why can’t we get it? The UN can’t get it, the US can’t get it, the Quartet can’t get it, the PLO can’t get it, the Israeli parliament can’t get it, why can’t they get it? Because the parties of God have a veto on it, and everybody knows that this is true. Because of the divine promises made about this territory, there will never be peacem there will never be compromise.”

    The situation in Israel/Palestine is now the model for everything. Most on the right have traditionally been religious, so unlikely to be able to reason very well, and ideologically committed to certain opinions, and now most on the left is too, since post-modern means post-rational.

    • old geezer says

      one other possible explanation. we have kept compromising and been reasonable for so long the government is now telling small children in school, you little boys can be girls. you little girls can be boys.

      perhaps this is a marker. perhaps the time to no longer compromise has arrived.

    • Fred says

      And what, Respek, other than the tendentious accounts of gnu atheists like Hitchens, makes you think that religious people are less able to reason well than atheists? I have yet to see an adherent of scientism, for example, able even to see that their position is self-refuting (the assertion that only science is true knowledge cannot be supported, much less established, by science), yet they hold to it with all the passion and conviction of any fundamentalist standing on a street corner yelling “whoremonger” at passersby. I think you are a clear example of Sunstein’s thesis.

      • Respek Wahmen says

        Well, take you, for example. You asked what besides “accounts by Hitchens” makes [me] think that religious people are less likely to be able to reason, yet Hitchens was quoted only to highlight the intractable position of the Isreal/Palestine conflict. “Scientism” is a meaningless smear. That knowledge should be based on evidence instead of faith isn’t a scientific position. Obviously science couldn’t prove this.

        • Fred says

          Thank you for making my point and admitting that science at the most fundamental level depends on positions that are metaphysical, not scientific. And what, exactly, do you mean by “evidence”? If you mean only empirical and/or experimental evidence, you are begging the question, since whether that type of evidence is the only way to true knowledge is precisely what is at issue. And what empirical evidence do you have for the principles of mathematics? What controlled experiment have you or anyone else conducted to prove modus ponens or modis tollens? Do you believe mathematics and logic are irrational? If you accept that logical arguments can be evidence, then your opposition between faith and evidence is an either/or fallacy. Since there are many logical arguments for theism and for faith, faith can be perfectly cosistent with evidence and reason. Seems to me you are the irrational dogmatist here.

          • Respek Wahmen says

            Since there are many logical arguments for theism and for faith, faith can be perfectly cosistent with evidence and reason. Seems to me you are the irrational dogmatist here.

            Yeah, like if P then P, currently the best argument for god. It’s valid but stupid.

          • Fred says

            If P then P? Please show me that theistic argument. I doubt seriously you can. However, a person somewhat less dogmatic, bigoted, and intellectually lazy could investigate Aquinas’s five ways, Pope St. John Paul. II’s Fide et Ratio, John Hick’s religious epistemology arguments, and Plantinga’s Other Minds argument and Evolutionary Argument Against Naturalism, to name a few. You might not fond them convincing, but assuming you understood them, you would find they are far from “If P then P.”

          • Fred says

            By the way, you never defined faith or evidence or answered whether you believe logoc and mathematica are irrational.

    • Stephanie says

      Respek, it is the official position of the PLO and Hamas that there be only one Palestinian state. That is why this hasn’t been solved. This isn’t about Palestinians wanting a State, they already have a very large one, Jordan. This about the Palestinians not wanting there to be a Jewish State.

  8. Wendelin Reich says

    I want to add a little anecdote to this excellent article.

    Back in 2006 I used Sunstein’s “Why Societies Need Dissent” to teach social psychology 101 at a Swedish University. I got reprimanded by our department administrator because instead of Sunstein, the course was supposed to be based on a book about feminism. Around that time, it was decided that every course had to include a “gender perspective”. Group polarization had already taken hold at our department…

    • E. Olson says

      WR – sad story, but not surprising. You should have told them that Sunstein occasionally identifies as female and thus provides the most complete gender perspective available, or better yet told them that you resent being called he, and from now on prefer ze.

  9. Daniel says

    Man, this is great! I agree with all y’all about this subject of group conformity!

  10. E. Olson says

    This article provides a nice explanation as to why virtually all the hatred, censorship, and violence in recent times comes from the Left. College campuses, “soft” sciences, popular entertainment, and the mainstream media are all dominated by Leftist viewpoints and bias, which makes exposure to it impossible to escape. This environmental dominance of the Leftist viewpoint therefore provides all individuals who are Leftist leaning a convenient and comfortable echo chamber to reinforce their existing viewpoints and/or move them ever further Left. On the other hand, those that lean Right can listen to Rush Limbaugh, or Fox News, but also get exposure to the Leftist perspective whenever they watch a movie or TV show, read their local newspaper, or attend any school from K to PhD.

    Thus it really isn’t possible for any Right leaning echo chamber to exist in the current environment, which is why Haidt’s research shows that Right leaning people can very accurately provide Leftist “talking points” on any issue, but the Left is unable to do the same for the Right beyond calling them “evil”. You can see this very easily in the Quillette comments section, as the Right leaning commenters frequently and accurately use the vocabulary of the Left to gently mock, criticize, or debate Leftist content. I can still get away with it myself by writing a looney tunes and satirical Leftist perspective on the issue at hand, and have Right leading commenters try to debate or correct me. Such Right leaning “corrections” and “debate” are also invariably polite and not personal attacks, but such “nice” behavior is much less common on the Left, as those of us who lean Right are fairly frequently personally attacked for having non-PC viewpoints by Left leaning Quillette commenters. Of course the Right has an “unfair” advantage over the ignorant Left that no doubt contributes to their lack of politeness and debate ineffectiveness, because only the Right tends to know both sides of the argument and has consciously chosen the Right position.

    Yet I take hope from even these impolite Leftist comments, because their response means they very likely read an invariably thoughtful and factual Rightist viewpoint that they would otherwise almost certainly never get exposure to in their Leftist echo chambers. Perhaps even as they write their angry response to an article or comment that causes them distress they might be thinking that there are some troubling but truthful elements that are difficult to honestly refute, which upon further reflection and research might lead them out of their Leftist echo chambers.

    Sadly, the modern college campus, and especially the elite college campuses, seem to be moving in the opposite direction, as Right leaning speakers, faculty, student groups, and scholarship is hounded out of existence by the Leftist echo chamber. Similarly, social media channels are also moving to deplatform and silence any viewpoints that are not sufficiently “woke”, which I can only hope will result in them following the “get woke, go broke” strategies of the popular entertainment and mainstream media industries in constantly attacking, belittling, or ignoring the center-Right viewpoints held by 50+% of their potential audience and head towards self-inflicted financial ruin.

    • Theodore A Hoppe says

      “Their statements served to reinforce the movement toward a group consensus rather than to add new and different points or to promote debate.”

    • TarsTarkas says

      One problem is that when the Left identifies a commenter as being on the ‘right’, they simply point and cream ‘look, a member of the NSDAP!’ which ends hope for a rational discussion.

      • Double Plus Good says

        It’s true! Their side is so unreasonable! All the reasonable people are over here on our side.

        One doesn’t even need to listen to their arguments once one has identified the flag under which they march.

        • DiamondLil says

          Double Plus Good: I see what you did there.

        • E. Olson says

          DPG – I like clever responses whether they agree or disagree with my position – good job.

        • Doug F says

          I enjoy reasoned, on-topic responses from any side. It is the people that immediately go to name-calling, and declarations of “truth” that only they own as their responses (I won’t dignify these by calling these arguments or talking points).

          If you browse the replies, these type of responses typically (not always) come from the left.

        • Stephanie says

          Is there a way to avoid listening to their arguments? Aside from total sequestration from society.

          • Saw file says

            I don’t often find them to be “arguments” (debate), but rather rote recitations of some type of propaganda. I either ignore them or respond with some form of humour. Generally just laughter.
            IMHO, I’m against “total sequestration from society”
            Society needs it’s unintended clowns and farces. Without them, some branches of comedy wouldn’t even exist. And…that’s my favorite kind of humour!

    • Doug F says

      “if members of the group think they have a shared identity and a high degree of solidarity, there will be heightened polarization”

      The primary strategy of the progressives in recent years has been creating and strengthening group identities to be in conflict with systems the progressives want torn down. This is no secret – it is obvious to the most casual observer. It should come as no surprise that this is driving greater polarization.

    • “Of course the Right has an “unfair” advantage over the ignorant Left that no doubt contributes to their lack of politeness and debate ineffectiveness, because only the Right tends to know both sides of the argument and has consciously chosen the Right position.”

      This is so true. Most institutions have been taken over by the left’s PC thought police. Many companies, too. Many aren’t even conscious of it, it’s the new normal. It’s being “nice”, which I dubbed the “totalitarian niceness” about 10years ago. We have to navigate it constantly, checking our words and approach to every single issue so we can pay the mortgage.

  11. Andrew Worth says

    I’ve been starting to think that maybe I’m a member of another species, now I know it must be true. I don’t give a f*** what other people think and if the group heads off on some weird fanatical crusade I’m usually not moved, you humans are nothing but sheeple.

    • Ray Andrews says

      @Andrew Worth

      You might be a dolphin, as I am. Yes, the monkeys are deplorable, dirty, meddlesome, noisy creatures, aren’t they? Trans to dolphin, you’ll be glad you did.

        • Ray Andrews says


          No, that’s an old slander. You can’t get it on with a lady dolphin unless she wants you because dophins have no way of hanging on to each other, so rape is impossible. Dolphin sex is therefore always consensual. We don’t have a #MeToo movement.

          • Saw file says

            @Rapey dolphin apologist, Ray
            Pushing that old feminist dolphin trope, eh!?!
            I’ll have you know… #dolphinrapesurvivor…that I’m still in deep therapy, do to my trusting nature with swimming with lady dolphins.
            Two of them lured me away with their seductive squeaks n chirps, and muscular sexy slick bodies. Once they had me alone, one began pushing me while the other teeth ripped off my trunks. Then they took turns holding me against each other while they had their dolphin way with me. Ok…no questions about my ‘lack of willingness’…#believe!
            Ummm….any chance you know: eeehhkukree and aeohkreee?

      • Respek Wahmen says

        Monkeys killing monkeys killing monkeys over pieces of the ground. Silly monkeys, give them thumbs, they make a club and beat their brother down. -mjk

      • Andrew Worth says

        Thanks Ray but you dolphins are always swimming around together chattering away about the monkeys, calling them names and running them down with half truths. Sigh, I guess I’ll just stay alone here in my basement being unsociable and criticizing everyone.

        • Ray Andrews says

          @Andrew Worth

          Half truths? We don’t tell the half of it. Ok, yes we can sound a bit superior. But you’d feel the same way if you joined. You don’t see dolphins dumping their garbage on the land do you? But the monkeys seem to think they can dump their shit and their plastic and their toxic waste in our ocean. And there’s all that BS about being the ‘pinnacle of evolution’ and such rot. ‘Primate’ my arse. Prime suspect is more like it.

          • Andrew Worth says

            . . . or I could just stay here in my basement and feel superior to all the monkey’s and all the pseudofish.

          • Ray Andrews says

            @Andrew Worth

            “and feel superior to all the monkey’s and all the pseudofish”

            Maybe you’re an extra terrestrial? That gets you some superiority eh? BTW, dolphins aren’t fish, that’s very rude and I’m triggered.

  12. dirk says

    In the NLs, we are expecting a hot debate between our prime minister and the new political comet, alt right prophet of the Forum party, jumping from zero seats to , now already, the biggest party. The Forum is for a Nexit (like our neighbours had their Brexit), a stop on more immigration, and for a “boreal” oikophilia, instead of the common oikophobia in vogue right now. The prime minister is going to warn us for the many negative consequences of the new party, and hopes by that, smashing the Forum, and winning back the lost votes (both parties are right wing). However, I agree with the reasoning above, nobody is going to change his mind, even where our debater numero uno, the prime minister, explains and calculates for us how disadvanteous this Forum will be, economically and socially. There will be no major shift back, I foresee. For the psychological reasons as explained above.

  13. “Extremism and mobbing are not so mysterious. On the contrary, they are predicable products of social interactions.”

    If they are predictable, the underlying motivation that causes them cannot be a “social construct.” That motivation must be innate. Perhaps it’s time to re-read what Sir Arthur Keith had to say about the “Code of Amity” and the “Code of Enmity,” in his “A New Theory of Human Evolution,” and take it seriously this time.

    • Daniel V says

      HelianUnbound – Like most things I would say it’s both social constructed and biologically influenced. Jordan Peterson’s graduate students are doing some interesting work around the idea of egalitarian and authoritarian SJWs where they’ve found the distinction between the two is verbal ability. Essentially the authoritarians fall short so they have a hard time understanding complex ideas or expressing them.

      So when their ideas are challenged they’re incapable of responding properly and can only double down on the ideas. In a sense they need their egalitarian counterparts to tell them how to respond and can’t do it on their own. It’s the egalitarians that have the capacity to handle the criticism.

      A problem arises when the egalitarians are either actually authoritarians or start acting like them. You can see that with the left eating itself. Previously the left was filled with egalitarian types but at some point they started making their rhetoric more authoritarian because it’s easier and more effective. Eventually this leads to the authoritarians having a problem with the egalitarians being too “on the fence” and eventually they see them as being part of the out group for not confirming.

      • @Daniel V

        The “socially constructed” and the “biologically influenced” are not independent entities. The existence of the former depends on that of the latter, and not the other way around. The innate behavioral traits that manifest themselves as ingroup/outgroup behavior have been around for a very long time. When we all lived in small groups of hunter gatherers, there was no ambiguity about the identity of the “other.” The “other” was always just the next group over. Even the subtlest cues enabled us to distinguish “us” from “them.” Now, thanks to modern means of communication, we are aware of a myriad “others,” and are quite capable of identifying any one of them as the outgroup. You might say the trait has become “dysfunctional.” However, before we can do anything useful to address the problem, we need to recognize what it is.

        • Daniel V says


          I agree and that’s why I said it’s a matter of both and. With biology informing the social construct which in turn can tame the biological urge. Like you said at one point the other was just the next group over. However as our ability to provide for the group improved we developed social systems to expand the definition of the other to be more and more inclusive.

          I think part of what we’re dealing with today is our politics distinctly defines two groups within one nation. Which had been the case for a long time but previously there seemed to at least be a little shared national identity. No doubt the shift in the 80s where society was declared dead and a bankrupt idea has something to do with it.

  14. If we accept Sunstein’s hypothesis, we should consider passing a law requiring groups to re-shuffle themselves, say every 4-6 years. Who could pass such a law? Why the Congress, of course — a group that is led by people who haven’t been shuffled in two decades. I think I see the problem here. . .

    • David of Kirkland says

      Term limits seem to rob us of our liberty at voting for the person we want, but sometimes we need a mechanical solution like term limits to force the shuffle even if it means good people step away.
      Tax policies tied to spending policies (perhaps on a 5 year moving average to avoid whiplash) isn’t the best, but it would be a mechanical way to ensure those representing us are honest about their spending.
      Re-shuffle please!

  15. Doc Broom says

    Cass Sunstein on Quillette, it’s almost enough to get me to stop reading Quillette. I wonder what nudge he’s trying here. I think that perhaps the psycho-manipulators that have been at work on the American people since Edward Bernays and George Creel didn’t realize that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. It takes some time, but it is inevitable. The more the “smart and wise” try to nudge, the more a lot of folks will shove back.

    • CA says

      Doc Broom

      Cass Sunstein is the legal scholar who coined the term “libertarian paternalism” which is embodied in Dostoevsky’s condescending and patronizing “Grand Inquisitor”. No doubt group polarization is a human problem and more or less amenable to study by social scientists. Amenable to study is not the same thing as being amendable by public policy. But do we need to be “nudged” by experts?

    • Theodore A Hoppe says

      They won’t “shove back” as you put it if and when they are nudged in the direct they wanted to go anyway.
      Take the example of organ donation. Simply asking the question (whether people want to be organ donors) in a way that requires people to opt out instead of opting in puts people action more in line with their desired outcomes.

    • jonfrum says

      Yes – thank you. Sunstein is an elitist, technocratic progressive. He believes that decisions should be made by the most capable – which would be him and those like him. It’s the same old iron fist wrapped in a velvet glove. Like ‘democratic socialism.’ Sunstein’s ‘nudge’ is just a way to give the people the illusion they have choices – more Brave New World than 1984.

      • TarsTarkas says

        In other words, being smarter, wiser, more educated, and nowadays more ‘woke’ (at least in their own mines) than everyone else not only means that they were made to rule over us, it obligates them to rule over us. Woodrow Wilson was a proponent of this attitude.

        Noblesse oblige. Which BTW was a concept developed AFTER the fall of the ancien regime to justify and rationalize the rule of the nobility over the commons.

    • Doug F says

      Isn’t the point of Quillette to bring in various opinions and encourage open and dare I say free speech on the topics? I generally don’t agree with Sunstein, but excluding certain ways of thoughts sounds a whole like what I rail against regarding the current SJWs.

    • Nakatomi Plaza says

      Wait, you mean the writer has a different ideological perspective that the rest of us! Get him! We must purge these unclean and subversive ideas before they corrupt our ideological purity!

      You guys are a miracle. How can you be so thoroughly lacking in self-awareness?

    • Andrew Scott says

      Psycho-manipulation might explain how two parties can formulate positions that divide a population of millions so that election outcomes can be as narrow as a few thousand or hundred votes, over and over. You can’t hit that target – near-perfect division – without aiming for it.

      That’s a question I’d love to have answered. It’s not just how people become polarized. How is it than in some states like Florida they are polarized so evenly? Is it a natural tendency or manipulation?

      My inner conspiracy theorist wonders about manipulation of the votes themselves – by organizations, not individuals. If you want to fix the totals so your side wins, you don’t produce a landslide. You add or subtract just enough to put your guy over the top and not much more.

      • Petrichor says

        No. It’s just an adaptive feedback loop in action. Probably balanced (unwittingly) by the media complex. They make the most money when things are 50-50. Media thrives on tension. So they adapt (again, unwittingly) in real time to keep us at 50-50. Interesting to note that the media has become more and more left in my lifetime. Which likely means the people have become more and more right and the media feedback loop (unwitting as it is) has had to become more and more left to counter-balance to keep us at 50-50. The best way to keep something in balance is to construct a feedback loop. There is no unseen hand.

        The only way to account for the 50-50 trend in elections is a feedback loop. The only organization powerful enough to drive that loop over this large a population is the media complex.

        Interesting to theorize what happens when the feedback loop saturates – when the media has gone as far leftward as they prudently can. Assuming, of course, that people continue to drift which is causing the media counter balance.

        The media will probably have to become more vehement. That will cause its credibility to erode. The people will likely react to that by discounting it. That will break the feedback loop and the people will continue their rightward drift – from momentum if nothing else.

        Unless the gasoline of the media’s vehemence meets a spark. Say from someone the people elect because they’re tired of being in this manipulative feedback loop.

        Oh. Wait…

  16. Lightning Rose says

    There’s more than one kind of “woke.” The Right-leaning equivalent we call “red-pilled,” per The Matrix. You get red-pilled on the day you finally do enough fact-checking to realize that the “news” NPR, PBS, BBC and the other usual suspects have been serving you from infancy is basically a crock of shit. You start to lift up rocks, research EVERYTHING, encounter ideas and viewpoints you’d been carefully schooled to ignore, even revile, and see things from new perspectives.

    And then one day you wake up–outside The Matrix! You no longer consume mainstream news, “entertainment” products which are mostly infantilizing crap, and start to really hit the books–history, philosophy, civics, natural history. You see: WHAT IT IS, Neo! Once you learn to recognize it, the propaganda becomes transparent and obvious to you and can be completely ignored. You can mouth the nonsense that superficially signifies conformity to your social milieu’s supposed mores, but at least this week what you really think is still up to you and many of us are smart enough not to share it in public. But in the voting booth, that’s another matter!

    • E. Olson says

      Great comment LR (as usual). I think it describes several members of the so called Intellectual Dark Web, whose red pill day came when the Left finally came after them from within the same echo chamber.

    • Absolutely, LR. I was a rabid liberal feminist in my 20’s. Working for nonprofits and directly interacting with people I used to defend made me cynical, jaded, and frankly, existentially exhausted. I had constructed my entire worldview around my liberal identity. Now, it’s like being re-awakened. It’s hard too because I still work in the nonprofit sector and see the madness every day.

    • Daniel V says

      It’s just too bad after being red pilled people fall into another trap of propaganda if different strip. There is no one ideology that completely and comprehensively captures the truth of realty. Not to mention media being propaganda was already covered by Chomsky.

      • Daniel, this assumes that those red pilled immediately join another group. Bad assumption. Don’t conflate all who red pilled with the celebrity world of you tubers. Many keep their mouths shut. Some slowly come out on #walkaway. The left has been so successful at marginalizing dissenters (See PayPal, Chase bank, etc) people are afraid of losing their jobs. The left targets and ruins. That includes the gal working in a cubicle of a conglomerate to a public school teacher.

    • Andrew Worth says

      Lightning Rose and then you get into internet sites where you find other people who agree with you and you take on board their views and they buy into yours and you all agree about just how naive all those people who haven’t been red pilled really are. . .

      • Doug F says

        Unless you instead try to find forums that exchange different ideas in a civil way, and try to uncover the real truth behind studies instead of accepting either sides interpretations.

        “You start to lift up rocks, research EVERYTHING, encounter ideas and viewpoints you’d been carefully schooled to ignore, even revile, and see things from new perspectives.”

        I think you might be being unfair to LR, and perhaps others who have “woke” to the idea of thinking for themselves. The IDW is hardly of one mind on any topic except the importance of talking about them.

        • Stephanie says

          I thought the “red pill” trope was so cringe until I was red pilled. Realising that what you thought was objective reality is actually aggressive far-left propaganda has a shattering effect on your worldview. The people above who have yet to be red pilled can’t understand it. It’s not that you suddenly realised you’re a conservative and start taking conservative commentary at face value. Conservative commentary is an as-yet modest attempt at providing counter-points to the leftist claims. It is not large or organised enough to do half the job. Grasping how all the seemingly disparate leftist pet causes combine to form a dangerous worldview takes a lot of individual work, in no small part because deprogramming the narrative embedded by media, politics, and education since childhood is no trivial task.

    • gda53 says

      MSM trope – Trump the racist is causing racial strife.

      In actuality:

      “Anti-black prejudice, they found, declined by a statistically-insignificant degree between 2012 and 2016, when Trump was elected. But then after 2016 it took a sharp dive that was statistically significant. Moreover, contrary to their expectations, the fall was as evident among Republican voters as it was among Democrats. There was also a general fall in anti-Hispanic prejudice, too,” – Spectator

      Wow! Is there nothing that a Very Stable Genius cannot accomplish?

      I guess that’s what White Privilege allows you to do – get amazingly unexpected things done.

      More White Privilege please.

  17. Theodore A Hoppe says

    For the most part, aren’t the comments in response to Sunstein’s essay going to reflect exactly the same type of group polarization he is addressing?

    • My view is when known totalitarians start talking about unity, listening to others or bipartisanship, they are concerned about losing followers. They are playing on emotion to pursue conformity. It’s an age thing. Seen it too many times to get sucked in.

      Cas is using “group polarization” to the same end. No one was more polarizing than Obama who condescendingly lectured us constantly like a school marm. Even Michelle referred to themselves as our “good parents”. No thanks.

  18. the In-Group says

    This certainly goes a long way towards explaining why the Out-Group is so loony and intractable.

  19. Sean Leith says

    Politically, through out modern history, polarization is almost always the left moving to far left, the right stand their ground, refuse to move. Look at the all the social movements since 19s century, it is always like this. when did you see right wing going to street protecting something. Rarely, if they do, they do it peacefully. They respect rule of law.

    The problem with the left is, they use their heart to think. There are many examples: socialism, woman movement, race, environment movement. They don’t have a reasoning process, they just feel something is virtuous, companionate, make them feel good. On environment movement issues, for example, they refuse to think, to reason, to find evidence. CO2 has little, if at all, to do with climate change, this has been proven again, and again. They refuse to take closer look at it, because if they do, that would destroy their narratives, that’s big deal to them.

    • E. Olson says

      Sean – very perceptive comment. To use an analogy, the Right is glass half-full without much thirst, the Left is glass half-empty and severely dehydrated (protesting is hard work). The Right is about what is possible, the Left is about achieving perfection (as they define it), and since perfection is impossible when examined analytically, they refuse to analyze history (i.e. 100 million dead from Communism), or economics (i.e. “free” solar power increases electricity prices 3+ fold). No wonder the Left is perpetually unhappy, and misery loves company.

      • Andrew Worth says

        Wow, you two just did a great job of illustrating what Sunstein was on about, thanks, loved the way the ideologically based claims of the unimportance of CO2 were thrown in!

        • E. Olson says

          AW – no it isn’t the same, because someone on the Left would simply say that solar is “free” and would therefore say that eliminating CO2 is costless, while someone on the Right because they have been exposed to both sides of the argument would reply, have you looked at the price of that “free” electricity in S. Australia, Germany, or Denmark? The Left is driven by ideology seldom supported by empirical proof (which is why they keep promoting socialism and green new deals), while the Right is driven by fact.

          • Andrew Worth says

            E. Olson, I’ve never heard anyone claim that there are no capital costs to PV and other forms of solar, if you’re going to start off with a strawman could you at least make it harder to refute than that? What those on the extremes always do is target the other extreme and avoid addressing the more fact based more centerist opinions. Guess what the other extreme’s claiming that the “right” is saying? And they’ll be doing exactly what you just did, twisting the claims and trying to attribute the nuttier extreme claims to everyone on that other side.

          • E. Olson says

            AW – if anyone does the real figures without subsidies, they would realize the solar doesn’t pay (first link). But solar is often marketed as “free” either because sunshine is “free” or because people like Elon Musk have been offering free solar panels and then sell the power and take advantage of the subsidies (second link).



    • Daniel V says

      @Sean – That’s note really a fair assessment of the left and I don’t think the fact the right refuses to budge is always a good thing either.

      When you have a document in a place like America stating all people are created by God equally by what logic do you say that excludes blacks? Because at one point that’s how it was and the right that was resisting change.

      And what reasoning beyond we want to go to war screw everyone was used for the Iraq war? The only evidence they had was that America sold them WMDs so obviously they must have some. Where were the giant under ground bunkers Cheny used to talk about in the mountains of Afghanistan?

      Blind obidence to authority, rule of law, and tradition are not good things. If the right always won the day America wouldn’t have even been founded in the first place.

      • Stephanie says

        Daniel, the Democrats opposed liberating the slaves because, just like now, they believe that race is the most defining characteristic of a person and that it is right to treat races differently. That their favoured races have changed with time is just an adaptive strategy.

        It’s distasteful to defend a genocidal maniac like Saddam Hussein. It’s a shame Iraqis preferred to slaughter each other over petty religious differences, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t a good think Saddam was deposed. It would have been better, however, to forcibly carve out a free Kurdistan, even if it meant destroying the nearly-as-bad governments of Turkey and Iran.

        As for Afghanistan, we haven’t exactly explored those mountains, but bunkers there are unnecessary when you can hide Osama bin Laden across the street from a military base in Pakistan. Going to war in Afghanistan was of limited use so long as Pakistan remained untouched.

        The Muslim world being as dysfunctional as it is, the war efforts were nevertheless successful in their mission to prevent another large-scale attack on American soil. Similar to how the Vietnam war was successful in its mission to prevent the further spread of communism in Asia.

    • Peter says

      E. Olson, regarding your comment on solar energy: The first reference comes from your echo chamber and has a misleading title: the man in question was not designing … , he was working in a utility that had to participate. The price of electricity in Germany is around 0.30 EUR or 0,34 USD at the current rate, not 0,39 as in the article. Out of that, about 0,085 goes for supporting renewables. German industry pays less for electricity. It is true Germany is not an ideal place for PV panels. But wind power is going to stay and expand – in the USA as well. And the prices for PV panels are falling.

      Renewables can be a benefit in case the grid fails. PV panels are a real boon in hot, sunny climates where they diffuse the peak demand due to AC.

      Solar panels producing warm water are a good investment in a new house in many places. Not to mention pool heating, something pool owners have known for decades:
      “A solar heating system for your pool usually costs between $3,000 and $4,000 to buy and install. This provides a payback of between 1.5 and 7 years”.

      Your second reference is about a controversial business practice, that was analysed by Consumer Reports a year ago. CR advised against using it. It is true it is based on tax returns, that, not surprisingly, benefit mostly the richer segment of the population in world’s largest plutocracy.

  20. Wil Raper says

    Nobody thinks immigration is a problem. A lot of people think that ILLEGAL immigration is a serious problem.

    Maybe the author should get out of his group and start thinking…….

    • E. Olson says

      Very good point Wil – I had the same thought when I read his immigration examples. It is a common tactic of the echo chamber to describe the “other side” as extreme and evil, such that enforcing EXISTING immigration laws is portrayed as an extremist and racist viewpoint.

      I laugh at the “common sense” and “reasonable” Leftist position that illegals “shouldn’t be deported when they haven’t committed any crimes” (such as being in the country illegally), but there also never seems to be a crime serious enough to warrant deportation, since the Left always object to deporting murderers, violent gang members, drug dealers, weapons violators, drunk drivers, etc., because “that isn’t what America is all about”.

      • Andrew Worth says

        It’s getting REALLY hard to work out who’s serious and who’s gone for the satire.

        • jakesbrain says

          Just start jumping up and down and screaming “YOU’VE GOT YOUR OWN FUCKING ECHO CHAMBER, YOU STUPID ASSHOLES!” and maybe the message will get through.

  21. Morgan Foster says

    Speaking of Harvard law professor Cass Sunstein and “Group Polarization” …

    I just did a brief Google search to see what Prof. Sunstein might have had to say about his fellow Harvard law school colleague, Prof. Ronald Sullivan being publicly shamed and fired from his position of dean of Harvard’s Winthop House, and who is also the subject of a recent Quillete article.

    Didn’t find anything.

    Anybody happen to know if Sunstein is backing Sullivan in group solidarity?

    • E. Olson says

      Morgan – seems to be crickets so far.

  22. E. Olson says

    “In the United States, group polarization helped both Barack Obama and Donald Trump to ascend to the presidency. Speaking mostly with one another, Obama supporters and Trump supporters became intensely committed to their candidate.”

    I wonder how Professor Sunstein would explain the fact that many Obama voters who were presumably in the “Democrat/Mass-Media echo chamber” voted for the “deplorable” Trump instead of the Obama endorsed Hillary? Similarly, how would he explain the fact that Trump won despite the fact that the “Republican echo chamber” contained many very vocal and well known “Never Trumpers” (i.e. most of the editorial staff of National Review and the former Weekly Standard)?

    • Nakatomi Plaza says

      You are embarrassingly uniformed. Both sides had factions that opposed their party’s candidates. You cannot seriously be arguing that the echo chamber doesn’t apply to Trump. That would be an impossibly stupid argument.

      Yet here you are….

      • E. Olson says

        NP – thank you for once again reinforcing my point above that the Leftist commenters are always the most impolite. But as it usual for Leftists, they get angry without actually reading the material they are angry about, because my comment merely asked questions – I didn’t argue anything.

  23. Princess Underlove says

    This describes right-wingers to a tee. They retreat to reactionary echo chambers because they can’t handle progressive views, and then they grow increasingly toxic with racism, misogyny, transphobia, homophobia, etc. This is how they’ve built huge chains of far-right white nationalist radicalization on YouTube and social media. Libertarians are the gateway drug, then they grow used to casual bigotry like Islamophobia in the name of “free speech” and slowly move towards anti-feminism, MRA and finally to white nationalism.

    As an example, back in 2014, gamergate built one of the first major chains of far-right radicalization that ultimately culminated in the Christchurch shooting. First, they orchestrated harassment campaigns against women game developers under the guise of “ethics in journalism” because they falsely accused several women of having sex for reviews. They retreated to an anonymous forum called 8chan where they freely shared child pornography while organizing more harassment, they gradually dialed up the toxicity, creating various subforums dedicated to various forms of bigotry, such as a “politically incorrect” subforum that would ultimately be the place where the Christchurch shooter announced the massacre to the cheers and encouragement of other users. Thus, what ostensibly started as “ethics in journalism” (and was really a misogynistic harassment campaign) built the chain of radicalization that created one of the worst mass murderers of our time. This is no joke, even now there are immensely popular youtubers with hundreds of thousands of subscribers who began their career harassing women during gamergate and promoting Islamophobia, such as Carl Benjamin (Sargon of Akkad or “Carlgon” to progressives). This is why platform owners need to take responsibility for far-right radicalization and start cracking down on hate, it’s not just a matter of awful opinions online, these things are costing the lives and livelihoods of people of color around the world.

    • Denny Sinnoh says

      Dear Underwear,
      If Quillette ever “cracked down on hate” then your hate-filled delusional ramblings could not get posted.

      Ha ha. Pikachu use iron tail! ⚡️

    • Nakatomi Plaza says

      Preach it, Princess U. I don’t fully agree with you, and you have to admit that the left does the same thing. Even so, the cage needs to be rattled occasionally around here.

      And these people complain that the left are intolerant.

  24. Hippogryph says

    An interesting topic.

    However, I agree with many here. Coming from C. Sunstein, complaints about conformity-as-such seem disingenuous. He wants a better credentialed set to manipulate the lowly masses by a million ‘nudges’ in the direction he prefers. Creation of conformity (by rather underhanded means) has been this man’s life-goal.

    • Daniel V says

      Hippogryph – Have you considered that people will always take cues from someone and conform? Libertarianism likes to argue that people are complete free agents but that’s just not the reality. By feeding that delusion to people it allows them to think they’re free agents when they’re not. It allows private interests to do the nudging without any public oversight except market forces which can be circumvented quite easily when you have no morals about manipulating people to do what you want. In fact manipulating people for your own ends is seen as a virtue.

  25. Craig Willms says

    This comment marks my last on this forum -Quillette. I have noticed that most my comments (here and elsewhere) are knee-jerk reactions to key words and are mostly just me lashing out. This article and the very decent comments thus far have opened my eyes a bit. I’ve just been contributing to the din. And quite frankly I realize I’m not intellectually at a level of reasonable debate on most of these subjects.

    Carry on good ladies and gentlemen…

    • dirk says

      It would be interesting to know, Craig, why, in the first place, you were attracted by Quillette, and posted reactions here. Did you expect more acclamation? Don’t do it, it won’t bring you (and nobody else) very far, better listen to the story above,conformity is no good.
      And, of course, intellectuality is often an advantage, especially in philosophy, natural science and literature, but in naked yoga or cuddling exercises (as hotly debated right now on Quillette)? I doubt very much!

      Why don’t you just stay with us?

      • Ray Andrews says


        If Craig isn’t being sarcastic, then I agree — I’d rather keep him.

    • Etiamsi omnes says

      Don’t belittle yourself, Craig. If every commenter here had your honesty an humility, I’m not sure there would be any left to cast the first stone at the adulterous woman… 🙂

    • E. Olson says

      Craig – I for one have always appreciated your comments, so I hope you continue to contribute to the discussions.

    • Morgan Foster says

      @Craig Willms

      Your comments are rather better and more nuanced than you credit.

      As for lashing out, why would anyone comment unless they were provoked?

      Other than to say: “Really liked your article.” Which is not interesting for other people to read.

      So, come back again, soon. Don’t leave the field to Princess Underlove.

    • Craig Willms says

      I lied, one more…

      Thanks for the kind words and whatnot. Actually I’ve been thinking for some time that others say what I’m thinking anyway, and usually much better. Quillete was my last refuge as I had been a serial/drive-by commenter on many, many sites, and the ‘pointless’ feeling persists even here.

      Quillette is a great site and by and large the intelligence of commenters is much higher than I usually encounter. Like I said carry on, you all are doing a great job.

  26. Jim Gorman says

    Birds of a feather flock together. It’s as simple as that.

    • Etiamsi omnes says

      Yes, and “Asinus asinum fricat” also.

    • Nakatomi Plaza says

      From the Federalist? Are you kidding? Do you understand the concept of credibility and bias? Find a credible source.

      You aren’t even attempting to be taken seriously, are you?

      • E. Olson says

        NP – did you read the article? It merely reported on an academic study showing grading bias against conservative students. Yes the Federalist is a Right leaning outlet, but that is where you need to go to get stories that are negative or investigative about the Left, because the mainstream media doesn’t cover anything that isn’t approved by the Democrat National Committee.

  27. Andrew Scott says

    “It is simply a statistical fact that when more people have a piece of information, there is a greater probability that it will be mentioned. Hidden profiles are a predictable result, to the detriment of the ultimate decision.”

    I understand the point, but as worded it’s confusing. It talks about information being shared because people have it, and then gives people not having information as a predictable result.

    It would be clearer to say that statistically the information that more people have will be mentioned more, and the information that fewer people have will be mentioned less. The result is that each person is more likely to hear information they already have, further reinforcing it, while they may never hear what they don’t know or if they do it’s rarely or never reinforced. It is effectively hidden.

  28. Respek Wahmen says

    “In political institutions and in companies, there is an unfortunate implication: group members who care about one another’s approval, or who depend on one another for material or nonmaterial benefits, might well suppress highly relevant information.”

    Some seem to believe that that men are more antisocial and more likely than wahmen to maintain an opinion in the face of being ostracized. If this is true, wouldn’t the increase in female leadership and general participation exacerbate the issue. What if additional volition were to be involved, to aid in this process, like suppressing information and opinions from dissenters to the social construct model.

    Some seem to believe that education is relevant. There was a guy called Robert Maynard Hutchins who thought that “the object of the educational system, taken as a whole, is not to produce hands for industry or to teach the young how to make a living. It is to produce responsible citizens.” He would emphasize the so-called “great books” and the “7 liberal arts,” including logic and rhetoric. He warns against specialization and thought that education has shifted its focus from being educational to custodial. I think he also claimed that nowadays the only place where an American is likely to be taught how to think critically is in the its law schools. The P4C (philosophy for children) program was set up with this in mind.

    If it’s true that education can be meaningful, then maybe it might be possible to insulate us to some degree from undue influence. We’re told they bought some facebook ads, and then we start acting like we’re all necessarily completely powerless to resist Russian influence. No talk about the responsibility of the citizen. Censorship and regulation is the only way forward. Similarly this author seems to believe that the findings of the studies he references are gospel; that this is just the way we are.

    Some seem to believe that it’s because those in charge are increasingly feminized post modernists. When there’s no anchor you’d want the populace to remain as stupid as possible, so you can exert your own undue influence, since everything is a propaganda power game.

  29. “In the United States, group polarization helped both Barack Obama and Donald Trump to ascend to the presidency.”

    Wrong. Many people who supported Trump did so privately to keep from being marginalized. Especially at work. That’s why the election shocked the left. They had spent so much time shame censoring people of the previous eight years, they had no idea what many people were thinking. People learned the hard way to keep their opinions to themselves. Disagree with Obama policy? You are labeled a racist.

    And there are a lot of people who voted for Trump because he was not Hillary. Some voted for Trump because any shake up of the establishment elites (on both sides) in DC was preferable.

    I thought that would be a wake up call for free speech the left dug in their heels.

    • E. Olson says

      lydia – you bring up some very interesting issues. The only poll that correctly predicted the 2016 election results used a projective technique where they asked respondents “who do you think your neighbor is voting for”, which revealed much higher Trump support than polls asking the traditional: “who will YOU be voting for?”

      I also hope that the next President from the “victim” class (i.e. female, person of color, gay, handicapped) is Republican for two important reasons. First, such a person will almost certainly be someone of real accomplishment (i.e. not an affirmative action community organizer or wife/lover of a big shot), and second, I want to see how the mainstream media covers policies they dislike (i.e. cutbacks to the welfare state, affirmative action, abortion rights, regulations, and promotion of merit based immigration, free speech, religious freedom, cheap energy, and economic growth, etc.) when they come from President Nikki Haley, or Bobby Jindal, or Tim Scott, or Greg Abbott, or Mary Cheney. Will they call the opponents to such policies racist, sexist, homophobic or will they call the gay/black/female Republican president racist, sexist, or homophobic? My bet would be on them calling President Scott a racist, and President Haley as sexist.

  30. scribblerg says

    Cass Sunstein throwing some more fuzz in the air, lol. How on earth did this hack ever achieve his level of notoriety?

    What’s missing from this “analysis” are the actual motivations of actors in any of these social situations. He omits that one side is consciously using disinformation, subversion, suppression, repression, oppression and hysterical rhetoric unhinged from facts and reason as tactics. One side long ago concluded that “by any means necessary” is justified for their moral cause.

    One side has essentially dispensed with reason and evidence that doesn’t support their ideology. Simple example is the much bemoaned, mythological “gender wage gap” in the U.S. The richest moment was when Obama was mentioning the fictional “77 cents on the dollar” stat, while at the same time his own Dept of Labor was publishing a report utterly destroying that claim. In fact, due to so many govt privileges in education being given to women over the past 30 years, men are now falling behind women. In this case we can track actual discriminatory practices against men. Let me clarify – if policies are “for women” they are against men. I know this is hard for most women to even process but it is outright discrimination against men. Women still receive all kinds of legal “affirmative action” by govt today. The only official discrimination in our society is going on against men. Just look at the different evidentiary standards for rape trials or the Duluth Model of domestic abuse – all overtly privilege women in our society via black letter law. Women who graduate with STEM degree are twice as likely to get a job in their field (with the same grades as a man). Yet I constantly hear that women are oppressed. It’s absurd.

    Ditto with say climate change. The fact that the IPCC AR5 and Gavin Schmidt himself state specifically that extreme weather events are not being caused by anthropogenic C02 emissions doesn’t stop the Left from going insane every time a hurricane comes through or there is a flood or a drought. Do your research, you’ll find I’m 100% correct. The current “consensus” and “science” is that the data doesn’t support the extreme weather hypothesis. What? If you are a global warming hysteric, i’m sure this shocks and even offends you. In fact, you are likely already dismissing me as an “extremist” and someone who is “anti-science” when in fact the Gavin Schmidt quote and the IPCC AR5 (go beyond the summary for policy makers to the actual sections on each issue, I’m 100% correct).

    Or let’s take gun violence. If you study the data for 30 seconds, you find the following. Of 11,000 criminal shootings of another person in the U.S. annually, about 350 a year are with a rifle, and many of those aren’t with an “assault rifle”. The large majority are with illegally owned handguns. And oh yeah, we had an assault weapon ban for 10 years and it had no impact on gun violence. Even more to the point? 80% of those shootings are related to gang violence in our truly fallen inner cities. Anyone who actually wanted to reduce gun violence would immediately focus on gang violence. But nope – its legal gun owners who have to be harassed. Fyi, people with legal carry permits have lower rates of criminality than police officers – but those are the folks who need to be more closely monitored got it.

    My point? Without the actual issues and context, what is the utility of the ideas presented in this article? What insight does any of this drivel present us with? Meta ideas about how “others” succumb to social pressure and become more “extreme”? What have I gained via this sophistry? Nothing, in fact I’ve been made dumber and less informed and thoughtful because stripped of actual details and context, there is no useful conclusion to draw.

    And given Cass Sunstein’s history of recommending socialism for the U.S. – while also noting that our white supremacy prevents us from doing so due our hatred of all ethnic and racial minorities – don’t expect me to see this deconstructionist drivel as neutral.

    Sunstein has perfected the Leftist art of seeming objective while being incredibly subversive. This essay can be seen as “disinformation” as it focuses on the meta versus the actual occurring events and issues we must deal with. It’s designed to make us believe something more important than the actual context and content of any given argument or issue is going on, but seeks to do so without overtly presenting ideology. One could say that Sunstein’s entire career has been dedicated to repackaging authoritarian, totalitarian govt to make it seem benevolent. See his work on “nudging” and you’ll see what I mean. He makes you think, “well, it’s just a nudge, it can’t be that bad and that pesky constitution, well, how can nudging be unconstitutional?” But in fact in the end he is always recommending Progressive/Socialist idea and ideals. Even this level of abstraction is innately socialist as it encourages the over-intellectualization of our socio-political order and to see it in abstractions and collections of people versus individual actors, positions and data.

    Put more plainly, Sunstein’s analyses seem to always occlude more than they reveal and this essay is no exception.

    • E. Olson says

      good comment scribblerg (as usual). The examples you use do support at least one aspect of Sunstein’s premise, in that the Left’s echo chamber is unlikely to know or share the “discouraging” facts related to their beliefs. For example, they all know about the 79 cents gender wage gap, but they will likely not know / discount / or hide the fact that the gap disappears almost entirely when education, experience, hours worked, and employment field differences are taken into account. They will also point to every newspaper story that ALWAYS says any severe weather event is due to man-made global warming, but will likely not know / discount / or hide the fact the long-term studies are actually pointing to less frequent severe weather as we have warmed over the past 50 years.

      And the truth is many probably don’t know, because studies have consistently found that CNN, MSNBC, NYT, etc. don’t cover stories that disrupt or call into question the Leftist narrative. Thus unless members of the Leftist echo chamber go out of their way to watch Fox News, or listen to Rush, or read Quillette comments they likely never get exposed to the full truth about why the world doesn’t behave the way they wish it would. In fact I find it so funny that when I provide links to demonstrate that solar power makes no economic sense, or that climate models consistently run hot, my “critics” always point out that my sources are “Right Wing”, which is often correct but also beside the point, because there can be no links to Left Wing sources when they don’t report “discouraging” facts. But the best proof is always the real world, because if solar power was so great, it wouldn’t need subsidies and it would be providing more than 1% of electricity, and fully qualified women were willing to work for 31 cents less than men, business would be firing all the men so they could make more profit.

      • Peter says

        Both scribbleberg and Olson are obfuscating the facts. Heat waves and heavy rainfalls, causing floods are severe weather events, they have increased and are a direct consequence of warmer climate (warmer air stores more water vapour). Storms have not increased.

        • scribblerg says

          Peter – You perfectly exemplify what I was talking about in my comment. The IPCC AR5 states the linkage between AGW and extreme weather isn’t strong. There are many scientists working on this issue, and the media publishes garbage about it all the time, but you can’t get around the fact that when push came to shove, the SCIENTISTS at the IPCC would not put in writing that extreme weather is caused by AGW. Argue with them, not me.

          The “proof” in your comment is truly laughable. Let’s see what you actually know. Let’s ask some basic questions:
          1. We were in a warming trend before C02 emissions increased. Annual avg temps going up is not a proof of AGW.
          2. The actual warming over the last 20 years has been so low that one cannot correlate any recent changes in weather (not climate – remember, you are talking about local weather reports for heat waves and heavy rain) to rises in temp because they have been so low. You can only make this case over longer measurement periods…
          3. The task is not to prove the climate it warming, it’s to measure the sensitivity of avg temps to increases in C02 and then the “feedback loop” that supposedly makes temperatures runaway in a spiral of increasing temps. The models fail to prove, time and time again, that this feedback loop operates as they say.

          I’ll leave you with some facts I bet you aren’t aware of, and it should slow you down in your campaign for “climate justice” (but we both know it won’t). C02 has a logarithmic effect on temp. Meaning, each additional unit of the trace amounts of C02 in the atmosphere results in decreasing temp increase velocity. By 600ppm, each additional unit of C02 will result in no warming. Question: Did you even know this?

          Another knock-on effect is increases in vegetation. Do you realized that we’ve had an increase in vegetation on the planet of 11% since C02 began to increase? Or that crop yields are up as a result?

          I bet you don’t know either of these facts. And as of today – climate sensitivity to increases is 1/3 – 1/2 of what the warmist models predict. Why doesn’t any of this slow you down?

          • Peter says

            “C02 has a logarithmic effect on temp. ” What logarithms are you using? Natural, or some other base?

          • Peter says

            “By 600ppm, each additional unit of C02 will result in no warming. ” The logaritmic curve does not level. Try to learn some basic mathematics first.

          • scribblerg says

            @Peter – How pathetic. You nitpick and preen – but don’t answer the actual substantive points I’m making. Do you get that about yourself? The issue I was trying to highlight is how little so many activists actually know about the basics of AGW.

            For those who think this putz has a point, a logarithm is the inverse of an exponent. This manchild wants you to think he knows something I don’t, lol. Google logarithm, you’ll see a chart that looks just like the C02 and avg temp graph – and at 600 ppm it’s essentially flat (tiny, insignificant increases in temp resulting from additional C02).

  31. dionysus says

    immigration has no benefits for white men, especially lowerclass white men. It lowers wages, keeping everyone poor so that capitalists can make a profit. And its destroys the nation culturally and demographically to the point that you will be a marginalized and hated minority in your own country. And then you have the left on one side saying that white men are privileged and need to handicap themselves even further. And you have the right on the other side who has conserved nothing and whose main policy seems to be “fuck you, more money for Israel” .Of course white men are going to become stark raving nihilists. At least the ones who see the reality hidden by the government and media. I stopped reading this article halfway. If you want to know whats really going on, read the book called “the true believer” and also listen to this iggy pop song called search and destroy.


    I’m a streetwalking cheetah with a heart full of napalm
    I’m a runaway son of the nuclear A-bomb
    I am the world’s forgotten boy
    The one who searches and destroys
    Honey gotta help me please
    Somebody gotta save my soul
    Baby, detonate for me

  32. dionysus says

    Another thing. The answer to polarization is synthesis. You know like the sun and the moon. Boaz and Jachin. male and female. yin and yang. the ouroboros.
    The answers lay in the occult. Not academia. Or rather. The ancients knew more about balance than the idiots who run the world today.

    Let white people culturally appropriate. Tell non whites to assimilate. Get rid of political correctness. Let the cultures mix and let people speak freely

    • scribblerg says

      Been reading a bit too much Evola I see. You WNs are so transparent in your posing.

      Question for you: In this pre-modern, traditionalist patriarchal order you want to revert to, what on earth makes you think you won’t be one of the peasants? Most white men were peasants in that feudal, pre-modern social order, you effing dimwit.

      But please, soft-pedal WN rhetoric here. I’m having a putter around afternoon and a quiet night at home. I’ll be glad to poke holes in all this traditionalist nonsense.

  33. dionysus says

    If you dont like the occult then i can use psychological terms. Americans need to integrate their shadows selves. The left is preventing this. Their ideas of cultural appropriation and telling non whites to not assimilate is preventing cultural synthesis. Which creates a large mass of people who are not assimilated and live on the edge of society.

  34. Walter says

    Excellent! Much to chew on.

    The left has busily been defining “white men” as the rival outgroup. They couldn’t be more blatant about it. A tricky task (can’t chase off all whites nor all men), but they are giving it a go.
    Couldn’t it be equally true that “moderates” (cooler heads) would win the day in a group? A group composed of confident lone wolf thinkers who put logic above all and shun those who aren’t up to speed. I’d say that Quillette and the IDW are doing something close to that right now.

  35. And yet some people “exit”. Not everyone conforms. What are the mechanisms that induce exit? What mechanisms discourage conformity?

    The mechanisms described here amount to run-away trains: once the train gets going in one direction, it doesn’t stop. But, are there no moderating influences? At the very least, run-away trains might crash and burn. (Berlin in May 1945 comes to mind.) But can’t we come up with examples in which the forces of conformism were moderated, and an outcome well short of crashing-and-burning obtained?

    Basically, all movements do not result in total war. Democratic processes in the United States were designed to enable folks to come to some sort of resolution over issues over which consensus could never be achieved.

    Note that some folks do maintain the idea that purpose of democratic process is to secure consensus. Indeed, some folks maintain the idea that democratic process should secure the “common good”. (The Rousseauian perspective implicit in Wooddrow Wilson’s “The State” [1889] advances such a view.) But what if we can’t agree on what is commonly good? The idea that we can’t agree but must yet come up with mechanisms for processing irreconcilable disagreements was the great conceptual innovation of the American experiment.

  36. Cedric says

    I think this was a great article. Anyone who disagrees is a puppy-killing Nazi. So, who’s with me?!?

  37. David Altschul says

    It’s unsurprising that Cass, who was one of the ideological narrative-generators of the Obamanation, ignored not only Obama mentor Saul.Alinsky’s mandate to denigrate all who traffic in inconvenient truths, but also Hillary’s 2018 Mao ist marching order that “we CANNOT be civil to those who stand in the way “

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