Sta Hungry Stay Foolish

Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.

A blog by Leon Oudejans

Extreme views are more attractive than moderate ones?!

A recent article in Scientific American claims that: “New research shows that people are drawn to others with more extreme versions of their own political views”. I wonder if that is true. If only because I do not relate to it, whatsoever. I dislike extreme political views, from any side.

I believe in cooperation rather than competition, which may explain my non-extreme views. In my view, most of humanity believes in cooperation. Hence, this recent article may well be biased. A glance at the underlying study in Nature Human Behaviour seems to confirm my suspicion.

“We found that participants who viewed peers who expressed more extreme views as more prototypical of their political group also tended to engage in greater acrophily.”

Quote from the Abstract of 2021 study: Homophily and acrophily as drivers of political segregation

The word attractive is not a substitute for the word prototypical. Vocabulary: “Being prototypical means representing the usual or quintessential version of something.” Hence, this Scientific American article is rather ironic as it uses an extreme view of a moderate study (eg, click-bait-fight).

To some extent, I understand the Scientific American title. On social media, you will indeed often notice that more extreme views get more likes than moderate views. However, such conclusions are always biased as the ones who like are a non-representative sample of the entire population.

As noted in my 2015 blog Urban legends and hoaxes, a famous example is the fatherhood myth of 1972 that 30% of the husbands could not have been the fathers of their children. Actually, those fathers were already suspicious. Hence, a non-representative sample of all fathers.

Even today, the extreme view of 30% is more “attractive” than the moderate view of “1.3% to 3.4%“. That fatherhood myth was promoted by several parties and several (hidden) agendas: (i) “fathers’ rights groups”, (ii) “DNA paternity testing laboratories”, and (iii) “evolutionary psychologists”.

“It is not enough for journalists to see themselves as mere messengers without understanding the hidden agendas of the message and the myths that surround it.”

A quote by John Pilger (b.1939), an “Australian journalist, writer, scholar, and documentary filmmaker”.

A Message To You, Rudy (1967) by The Specials (1979)
band, lyrics, video, Wiki-band, Wiki-artist, Wiki-song

Note 1: all markings (bolditalicunderlining) by LO unless in quotes or stated otherwise.

Note 2: “‘Rudy’ (or rudi or rude boy) is a 1960s Jamaican slang for a juvenile delinquent.”


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