Why moderate beliefs rarely prevail

Oct 02, 2012 by Lisa Zyga feature
Diagram of the model structure. Arrows indicate which types of speakers can convert listeners from one subpopulation to another. Members of the committed A population, the zealots, cannot be converted. When zealots reach a certain threshold of the population, they are capable of converting everyone to their perspective. Credit: Marvel, et al. ©2012 American Physical Society

(Phys.org)—We live in a world of extremes, where being fervently for or against an issue often becomes the dominant social ideology – until an opposing belief that is equally extreme emerges to challenge the first one, eventually becoming the new social paradigm. And so the cycle repeats, with one ideological extreme replacing another, and neither delivering a sustainable solution. Political revolutions, economic bubbles, booms and busts in consumer confidence, and short-lived reforms such as Prohibition in the US all follow this kind of cycle. Why, researchers want to know, does a majority of the population not settle on an intermediate position that blends the best of the old and new?

"For many political issues, economic policies, , and allocations of funding, for example, the middle road or 'golden mean' between extremes has advantages over either extreme," Seth Marvel of the University of Michigan, lead author of a recent study on moderation, told Phys.org. "Furthermore, there are cases – say, with economic policies for instance – where swinging between extremes is costly in itself."

In their paper published in , Marvel and his coauthors from the US and Korea explain that there are several ways to explain why few people embrace moderation, but here they give a purely mathematical answer using a "model of ideological revolution." The model reveals that successive ideological revolutions take place in an environment that is not conducive to moderate beliefs. Even when the researchers adjust the model to encourage moderation, eventually the moderate population will almost always either fail to sufficiently expand or collapse altogether.

The model of ideological revolution begins with a community consisting of four types of individuals: those that currently hold an extreme opinion A, those that hold the opposing extreme opinion B, those that hold neither A nor B (the moderates), and those that hold A indefinitely and never change their minds (the A zealots).

To run the model, two individuals are randomly selected to interact with each other, with one randomly chosen to be the speaker and the other the listener. If the speaker is an A or B and the listener is a B or A, respectively, the speaker changes the listener's beliefs to AB. If the listener is an AB, then the listener becomes an A if the speaker is an A, and becomes a B if the speaker is a B. Moderate speakers cannot change a listener's beliefs; only extremists rally others toward their cause.

Running this basic model, the researchers found that the proportion of zealots strongly affects the outcome. When zealots are below a critical value, the system remains similar to how it started. But above a critical value, the zealots quickly convert the entire population to A.

"Although we didn't mention this explicitly in the paper, a raft of alternatives to our basic model (built from different assumed interactions) all show the same threshold behavior: when the committed believers reach a certain fraction of the community, they are capable of converting everyone to their perspective," Marvel said. "This suggests that a similar threshold may appear in real systems even when those real systems have dynamics somewhat different from our basic model. As the American anthropologist Margaret Mead is claimed to have said, 'Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.'"

The researchers tested seven different strategies for increasing the moderate subpopulation in the model. For example, in one strategy they introduced a "stubbornness parameter" to study the possibility in which moderates are less likely to convert to either of the two radical positions. The basic model has a stubbornness parameter of zero, but increasing the parameter gives the moderates a chance to retain their beliefs after listening to a radical. Although a small value of stubbornness does increase the moderate subpopulation, the researchers were surprised to find that, past a certain threshold, stubbornness drives the moderates to extinction.

They explained that this counterintuitive result occurs because increasing the stubbornness of the moderates initially increases the moderate subpopulation while simultaneously depleting both the uncommitted A and B subpopulations. With a smaller B subpopulation, there is less competition from the B's with both A subpopulations for winning over the moderates. As a result, fewer A zealots are required to convert the entire population to A, making the entire population more vulnerable to a zealot takeover. Once again, evangelism proves to be an important force in converting a population.

Of the seven strategies the researchers tested, only one could effectively expand the moderate subpopulation – and the strategy was based not on social interaction but on other environmental stimuli, which might take the form of a media campaign in real life. By integrating this new parameter into the model, the number of moderates increased without threat of extinction.

"The one successful strategy, nonsocial deradicalization, involves a particularly strong sort of encouragement of moderation; for example, its terms with the new parameter are independent of the size of the moderate population," Marvel said. "Hence, our findings suggest that this strong form of encouragement may be necessary for spreading a balanced perspective in a sustainable way."

The researchers note that this strategy should be regarded with caution, given that they have not attempted to show that the model's dynamics accurately represent the real world, with its multiple small-scale ideologies, fragmentation of opinions, and other intricacies. Nevertheless, they hope that this general framework for testing possible strategies that encourage moderation may lead to the discovery of more sophisticated methods.

"Our work finds mathematical reasons why many of the most intuitive strategies for encouraging the moderation position, or 'aurea mediocritas,' may be ineffective at doing so," Marvel said. "As we mention in the article, only one out of seven different strategies that we consider succeeds in increasing the size of the moderate fraction without risking its collapse. This may have implications on what sorts of measures should be taken to encourage even-handedness when we want to do so."

He added that other features of real-world societies emerge in the model, even though the model is more simplistic than the real world.

"As a surprising byproduct of our work, we discover several new features of real networks," Marvel said. "For example, we find that when our is simulated on these empirical networks, maverick or contrarian individuals emerge at the social fringe. These individuals retain the outdated dogma even after everyone else has converted to the new ideology. We also find that, even though real networks are much 'sparser' than our all-to-all test networks, our models still play out quite similarly on them, indicating that the surprising behavior of our models may extend well to real systems."

Explore further: 'Moral victories' might spare you from losing again

More information: Seth A. Marvel, et al. "Encouraging Moderation: Clues from a Simple Model of Ideological Conflict." PRL 109, 118702 (2012). DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevLett.109.118702

Journal reference: Physical Review Letters search and more info website

4.2 /5 (32 votes)

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jscroft
1.6 / 5 (39) Oct 02, 2012
... because moderate beliefs are just liberal beliefs with another name, whereas conservative "beliefs" are more in the nature of heuristics based on a value system that prioritizes personal liberty, combined with an empirical appreciation of the world as it actually is.

In other words, the distinction is similar to one between religion and science.
Doug_Huffman
4.5 / 5 (17) Oct 02, 2012
'Converging and diverging views', Section 5.3 of Chapter 5, 'Queer uses for probability theory, in E. T. Jaynes' Probability Theory: The Logic of Science (Cambridge, 2003)

Then it might be thought (and for some it is an article of faith in democracy) that open discussion of public issues would tend to bring about a general consensus on them. On the contrary, we observe repeatedly that when some controversial issue has been discussed vigorously for a few years, society becomes polarized into opposite extreme camps; it is almost impossible to find anyone who retains a moderate view.


Jaynes goes on to demonstrate with some mathematical rigor that the narrator's credibility with his audience polarizes them, with magnitude determined by his hyperbole, believers are brought closer and disbelievers are driven further away.
Scottingham
4 / 5 (21) Oct 02, 2012
"conservative beliefs are based off empirical appreciation of the world"

...are you crazy?! Gay Marriage? Evolution? War on Drugs? Any of those conservative positions are so far off from looking at evidence your comment makes my head spin.
ryggesogn2
2.7 / 5 (12) Oct 02, 2012
When those 'extreme' beliefs are 'LIFE' or 'DEATH', or 'GOOD'/'EVIL' what is the moderate position?
Micki_Pacific
1.6 / 5 (7) Oct 02, 2012
Newton's Laws of Motion III: To every action there is always an equal and opposite reaction: or the forces of two bodies on each other are always equal and are directed in opposite directions.
Physmet
5 / 5 (14) Oct 02, 2012
If someone says, "let me tell you about my very moderate view", people listen politely (if you're lucky) and go their way. It's more exciting to have an extreme. It's easy to argue with big claims, rather than to think something through. People's brains don't start listening until they feel shocked. It's almost as if until there is a reason to attack or defend, we don't take an interest. So, extreme views provide that impetus.
Eikka
4.3 / 5 (17) Oct 02, 2012
When those 'extreme' beliefs are 'LIFE' or 'DEATH', or 'GOOD'/'EVIL' what is the moderate position?


Usually it's the realization that very few things actually are so clear cut, and the person who's asking the question is actually making a false dichotomy.

Like abortion for example. Choose life, choose death. Well, if by "life" you mean being born to a drug addict mother and a negligent father to a society that believes it's God's will that you suffer from mental retardation because of your mother's alcoholism...
jscroft
2.1 / 5 (18) Oct 02, 2012
...are you crazy?! Gay Marriage? Evolution? War on Drugs? Any of those conservative positions are so far off from looking at evidence your comment makes my head spin.


Might help if you had some idea of what "Conservative" means.
GSwift7
4.1 / 5 (12) Oct 02, 2012
This is totally true.

I have been saying the same thing for a long time. There is tremendous peer pressure for people to form strong opinions on "hot button" topics, even if they don't really know anything about the issue in question. Climate change is a good example of a topic that people will literally explode over, but almost nobody in the public knows even the slightest thing about it.

I think it is odd how some subjects tend to be this way, while other subjects are not.

The study above hints at another point I have observed. Since my views about climate science are moderate, if I post in a forum where extremists on either side are posting, I get mistaken for a member of the opposing camp all the time. I get shouted down here and at wattsupwiththat for just about anything I say, for example.
Meyer
3.9 / 5 (7) Oct 02, 2012
Might help if you had some idea of what "Conservative" means.

"Liberal" and "Conservative" are both words that have to be defined in every discussion, or it is likely to descend into a strawman battle.
GSwift7
3.8 / 5 (12) Oct 02, 2012
Every extremist stance is therefore a manifestation of biased view, lazy mind and the lack of comprehension


Lol, that's funny, but not really true. There are quite a few brilliant extremists in the world. For example, do you think the people responsible for the Spanish Inquisition had lazy minds or a lack of comprehension. In many cases, extremist views are used by very clever people to manipulate others and/or serve some other purpose. The Nazis are another example where extremist views were the product of brilliant strategy (although sick and twisted, still brilliant). They almost conquered all of Europe, half of Africa and part of Russia. I wouldn't call that lazy or ignorant. Surely those men knew what they were doing when they taught hate to the German children. Is it any wonder that churches always run schools? Implant your ideas into the children and you own the next generation.
kochevnik
2.8 / 5 (11) Oct 02, 2012
@jscroft whereas conservative "beliefs" are more in the nature of heuristics based on a value system that prioritizes personal liberty
You construe bootlicking as liberty.
Might help if you had some idea of what "Conservative" means.
Unlike you.
wealthychef
2.2 / 5 (5) Oct 02, 2012
The model basis is flawed. "Cannot be converted" does not really exist.
ryggesogn2
1.7 / 5 (18) Oct 02, 2012
very few things actually are so clear cut

Well, if by "life" you mean being born to a drug addict mother and a negligent father to a society that believes it's God's will that you suffer from mental retardation because of your mother's alcoholism...


Its very clear cut if you are the baby who who wants to live.
But if your a part of the libertine society that encourages drug addicted mothers and negligent fathers you might choose to kill the baby instead of taking responsibility for producing that society.
But the choice is still very clear, responsibility or irresponsibility.
xX_GT_Xx
3.7 / 5 (6) Oct 02, 2012
The experiment is fundamentally flawed in so many ways that I'm not sure where to begin. It assumes there are only two sides to issues. It fails to account for weighted positions (a person who discounts evolution is less likely to be taken seriously even when speaking on topics that have nothing to do with evolution). It's a chicken-and-egg scenario - if it requires extremists to convert people to extremes, where did the extremists come from?
ValeriaT
1.3 / 5 (3) Oct 02, 2012
Many people become extremists when they simply identify with the subject, which they're supporting. It's avalanche-like process, which could be compared to the fall of matter into black hole. The particular person becomes more and more biased in choice of its arguments, until it becomes surrounded with event horizon of his own perspective of vision, so it will stop reflect the reality and to exchange rational information with his neighborhood. The (choice of) subject, which people favor blindly is solely random: Vendicarian has full his head of conservatives, Amrit atemporal universe, jfprins waves, ommantur solar neutrons, Alphanumeric mainstream physics, etc.. They're all extremists in their own nature.
ValeriaT
3 / 5 (5) Oct 02, 2012
The typical aspect of behavior of extremists is, they're surrounding themselves with similar people, so that their stances don't appear so radical relatively. It enables them to deepen their extremist stance even more. I'm sure, if the Hitler wouldn't have the opportunity to met with another Nazis, he would remain hateful and eccentric, but essentially harmless sociopath. So that the extremists tend to concentrate in groups in similar way, like the matter around galaxies - and the unbiased opinions are as rare, as the matter outside of galaxies. This condensation and precipitation is a product of spontaneous symmetry breaking, which follows the energetically low state of society. The poor social and economical situation is the driving force of the extremism. And vice-versa, when the human society gets rich (as it was at the beginning of 60's), it converts itself into crowd of holistic Buddhists and peaceful hippies.
chardo137
4.3 / 5 (7) Oct 02, 2012
The battle between conservatives and liberals going on in the comments to this article are proof of the basic assumptions of the researchers. If you are foolish enough to take a moderate position, the vast majority of people will just ignore you. Politicians use noble sounding strings of words, but when you try to boil it down to ideas, there are none. Just rhetoric to please the faithful.
Caliban27
3.9 / 5 (11) Oct 02, 2012
This discussion appears to be following the lines of the model very closely.
ValeriaT
3 / 5 (6) Oct 02, 2012
If you are foolish enough to take a moderate position, the vast majority of people will just ignore you
People should realize, that just this seemingly vague and moderate stance is the unbiased, smart and thoroughly balanced position, which they're looking for from long term perspective. Unfortunately the contemporary civilization is still civilization of cavemen, the evolution of whose is based on fight and competition - not cooperation. Because the contemporary people are essentially cheaters by their very nature, the competitive polarized environment is the basic mechanism, which prohibits the growth of various parasitic individuals, who would profit from omnipresent altruism. IMO the future is in well balanced combination of both cooperative, both competitive approaches.
ryggesogn2
3.1 / 5 (9) Oct 02, 2012
civilization is still civilization of cavemen, the evolution of whose is based on fight and competition - not cooperation.


That is a biased, extreme position.
Cooperation HAD to be a key factor for humans to survive with stone knives and bearskins.

contemporary people are essentially cheaters by their very nature,

Another extreme, biased position. Are you projecting?
tgoldman
2.5 / 5 (2) Oct 02, 2012
But the model is flawed in leaving out B-zealots. Surely the ratio of those to A-zealots matters, not only for wiping out one extreme, but for the stability of the moderate population. The authors must examine what happens when this 5th population is included.
ScooterG
3 / 5 (6) Oct 02, 2012
If someone says, "let me tell you about my very moderate view", people listen politely (if you're lucky) and go their way. It's more exciting to have an extreme. It's easy to argue with big claims, rather than to think something through. People's brains don't start listening until they feel shocked. It's almost as if until there is a reason to attack or defend, we don't take an interest. So, extreme views provide that impetus.


I can remember a day when a person could say something provocative, eg: "Jesus Christ was gay", and the other person would politely say "that's interesting, why do you feel that way?". And a civil conversation would ensue.

Nowadays, peoples first reaction is to get their hackles up and fight.
ryggesogn2
2.3 / 5 (11) Oct 02, 2012


I can remember a day when a person could say something provocative, eg: "Jesus Christ was gay", and the other person would politely say "that's interesting, why do you feel that way?". And a civil conversation would ensue.

Nowadays, peoples first reaction is to get their hackles up and fight.

Wasn't that the motivation of the provocateur, to provoke?
What has a 'moderate' response earned? More provocation like a crucifix in urine displayed as 'art'.
"Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice. And moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue."
Read more at http://www.brainy...dcRXP.99
ValeriaT
3.3 / 5 (7) Oct 02, 2012
contemporary people are essentially cheaters by their very nature, Another extreme, biased position. Are you projecting?
Of course not. If the people would be fair-minded, the we would all live in the communism already. Because the communism is just based on the utopian's idea, that the people will work willingly for their pure pleasure from human work, which "played as substantive role in the transition from ape to man". And on the belief, they will distribute the results of this work in fair way "by their needs". The Marx/Engels were actually a deep believers in human altruism. And naive indeed.

After all, the laissez-fair is the utopia of the same category: it's based on the idea, that the people will do their business and trade value honestly and without need of governmental intervention - it was essentially a communism upside down. As we know today, we must have both competition, both the government, which guards the rules of the free market (and it intervenes into it).
ValeriaT
3.3 / 5 (7) Oct 02, 2012
When I'm saying, the "contemporary people are essentially cheaters", I'm not saying, all these people are cheaters. But the truly altruistic stance is extremely rare: most of people do philanthropy from egoistic motives. Would the Mother Theresa did really her charity, if she wouldn't positively valued and appreciated for it? I really doubt so. If nothing else, even the most altruistic people do expect satisfaction and recognition for their philanthropy (and I'm not talking about tax relief and similar even more problematic incentives).

Of course, when the people don't realize, where the actual limits of human altruism or egoism are, they can easily get the impression, that the people better or worse, then they really are. Such a biased stance may become a culture medium for extremism later.
ryggesogn2
2.5 / 5 (8) Oct 02, 2012
If the people would be fair-minded, the we would all live in the communism

That is NOT the idea of Utopia. Utopia was dictatorship where everyone was forced to live a certain way.

laissez-fair is the utopia

This has nothing to do with Utopia.

What can be counted upon is people will act in their self interest just as nations do today. Since there is no world govt the world exists in a state of anarchy. Yet nations act in their self-interest, those that are not run by Utopian dictators understand that it is in their self interest to trade, to respect each other in order to become prosperous.
Individual people will do the same. People who lie, cheat or steal won't last long as he will soon be shunned or killed. It's in everyone's self interest to be truly honest and fair or they will be outcast from society.
Govts were really the first organized gangs that found it easier to plunder instead of trading.
ryggesogn2
2.1 / 5 (7) Oct 02, 2012
most altruistic people do expect satisfaction and recognition for their philanthropy

Then they are not altruistic.

"The irreducible primary of altruism, the basic absolute, is self-sacrifice—which means; self-immolation, self-abnegation, self-denial, self-destruction—which means: the self as a standard of evil, the selfless as a standard of the good."
"The issue is whether the need of others is the first mortgage on your life and the moral purpose of your existence. The issue is whether man is to be regarded as a sacrificial animal. Any man of self-esteem will answer: "No." Altruism says: "Yes.""
http://aynrandlex...ism.html
TheGhostofOtto1923
3.2 / 5 (24) Oct 02, 2012
TRIBALISM.

The more people such as scientists know about a position, the less fanatical they may be about its success and the more willing they may be to change their minds about it. Their belief is rather the confidence that it is true, which is wholly based upon evidence.

But for most people, like ryggy for instance, their beliefs are faith-based and as we know, faith is belief DESPITE evidence. Their faith is part of their tribal identity. It is what ties them to the group they identify with, full of like-minded people who believe the same things.

Humans are inextricably tribal. Over the course of history we were continuously selected for it. Its urges are hard to resist. Try ryggy.
ValeriaT
3.4 / 5 (5) Oct 02, 2012
That is NOT the idea of Utopia. Utopia was dictatorship where everyone was forced to live a certain way.
OK, thanks for the pointing of this difference. I indeed mentioned the "utopian's communism" in the sense of its zero practical feasibility.
People who lie, cheat or steal won't last long as he will soon be shunned or killed.
In theory yes, in reality the moral rules are quite flexible - not to say about their interpretations with various individuals.
Then they are not altruistic
It's indeed useful and healthy to be slim in general, but most people take diet because they do like their nice young bodies. They don't care so much about their longevity. Many people are altruistic just because they get pleasure from being altruistic. That is to say, the people who are doing correct things although they're not satisfied with doing it at least a bit are masochists or imbeciles.
ValeriaT
2.3 / 5 (6) Oct 02, 2012
and as we know, faith is belief DESPITE evidence
In most cases, the faith is the belief DESPITE the insufficient evidence. The faith in God is such an example, because we have no conclusive evidence of nonexistence of God - and we will probably never have. And in my theory the belief in God is not completely unsubstantiated even from solely physical perspective - the notion of deity is the feeling of deeper underlying reality, which manifests only with subtle way, like the gravitational (scalar) waves, CMBR noise and quantum fluctuations. In my opinion the people were somehow aware of many deep connections about reality from the very beginning of the human existence. They often packed this subliminal awareness into less or more thick and layer of various misleading mythologies and religions - but it was still there.
ryggesogn2
2.1 / 5 (7) Oct 02, 2012
Many people are altruistic just because they get pleasure from being altruistic.

Then they are NOT being altruistic. By definition it must be sacrifice.
Philanthropists like to promote their generosity but they are NOT being altruistic. It would be closer to altruism if their philanthropy was anonymous.

moral rules are quite flexible

Really? Some articles have appeared on this site which show even children understand property rights and that it is not nice to hurt others because they don't want to be hurt. Isn't that the basis of all morality, treat others as you want to be treated?
ValeriaT
3 / 5 (4) Oct 02, 2012
Then they are NOT being altruistic. By definition it must be sacrifice.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Herbert_Spencer just deduced from this definition, that the pure altruism cannot exist (which is logical). Even if it would exist in two or three exemplars at some desolated island, it wouldn't be of practical significance anyway. I'm thinking in context of mild but general rules here, not extreme exceptions. After all, whole the definition of altruism depends on the definition of the public welfare if not "common standard of good" - which is extremely fragile by itself and it definitely changes with time.
ValeriaT
3 / 5 (4) Oct 02, 2012
Isn't that the basis of all morality, treat others as you want to be treated?
But I just don't want to sacrifice myself - which virtualizes the morality of the whole altruism thing. I even don't want the other people to sacrifice for me. I would expect instead, the people will do the good and useful things just because they're enjoying it. When the "true altruist" sacrifices himself, it's not moral behavior just with respect to categorical imperative above claimed, so he cannot achieve the "standard of good" during it.
verkle
1 / 5 (3) Oct 02, 2012
ryggesogn2, your comments are very refreshing.
Thank you for taking the time to respond to many.

TheGhostofOtto1923
3.3 / 5 (23) Oct 02, 2012
In most cases, the faith is the belief DESPITE the insufficient evidence. The faith in God is such an example, because we have no conclusive evidence of nonexistence of God
We have conclusive evidence that the god of the bible did not exist, that the exodus, the joshuan rampage, the Solomon/David kingdoms, never took place. Incontrovertible evidence. Yet how long do you think it will take for hardcore religionists to eschew their books and accept what the world is telling them?

People who lie, cheat or steal won't last long as he will soon be shunned or killed.
-To fellow tribal members, sure. But this behavior against tribal enemies has always been regarded as virtuous. So much so that it resembles instinct.
Really? Some articles have appeared on this site which show even children understand property rights
Indeed and apes will form up raiding parties to take territory away from adjacent groups.

Tribal dynamic = internal altruism coupled with external animosity.

hb_
3 / 5 (2) Oct 03, 2012
The study is flawed since it doesn't take into account "lazyness" or spontaneous relaxing into indifference.

Clearly, most people cannot be upset over more than - tops! - two topics at any one given time. So, if a zealot converts a moderate that, say, gay marriage is evil, then this moderate will revert back into indifference after being left alone for a some time.

So, the authors should add a decay term to extreme views that are held by converted moderates. Although I am in favor of mathematical models in social studies, you have to be careful what you put into the models.
thingumbobesquire
1 / 5 (2) Oct 03, 2012
This certainly is a handy study for those who are concerned with having popular opinions so they can "get ahead" in the world. However, for those who want to seek the truth, this study is risible balderdash. And, since we seem to be everywhere governed these days by a loutish chasing after opinion polls, we should fear for our future.

http://thingumbob...pot.com/
Tausch
3 / 5 (2) Oct 03, 2012
How or what do you feel about...(whatever)?

Perhaps what or how you feel contributes in a significant way to the beliefs/views you embrace - into the categories (also labels) offered by the authors' research.

What makes you feel most secure?
Is it the control you feel you have to influence others and the world (you live in)?

What and how many feelings are interspersed/interwoven among your beliefs (of logic)?
Tausch
3 / 5 (2) Oct 03, 2012
@lite:
lighten up - (enough to make a single comment to any of your ratings you give anyone)
chardo137
5 / 5 (3) Oct 03, 2012
Faith: A belief which cannot be shaken by evidence to the contrary.

-Bertrand Russell
Warfarin
1 / 5 (1) Oct 03, 2012
It is also flawed in assuming that people with moderate beliefs cannot convert someone to a moderate position.
ryggesogn2
2.3 / 5 (6) Oct 03, 2012
I would expect instead, the people will do the good and useful things just because they're enjoying it.


Why not because they benefit or profit from it or its in their self interest?
TheGhostofOtto1923
3.4 / 5 (22) Oct 03, 2012
After then many atheists are believers as well, because many evidences of God were http://ivarfjeld....ptions/.
Sorry stigmatists are a particularly sick form of charlatan and have been debunked. Padre pio is an egregious example. He had people by acid for him to burn his palms.
http://www.skepdi...ata.html
DavidW
2.3 / 5 (3) Oct 03, 2012
Physmet
"So, extreme views provide that impetus.
Valid observed point most of the time, but not always.

wealthychef
"The model basis is flawed. "Cannot be converted" does not really exist."
Yes, it is flawed. However, it does seem to be exposing some things, if even in error.

xX_GT_Xx
"The experiment is fundamentally flawed in so many ways that I'm not sure where to begin."
Agreed.

The reason others are finding flaws is because there are flaws.
A position that is not truthful, zealot or not, cannot succeed. It may possible convert everyone, and will only to lead them to their all to their mutual death. Only positions based on truth can completely win in the end.

...an activism that is not purified by profound spiritual and psychological self-awareness and rooted in divine truth, wisdom, and compassion will only perpetuate the problem it is trying to solve, however righteous its intentions.
― Andrew Harvey
A_Paradox
5 / 5 (3) Oct 03, 2012
GSwift,
...
Lol, that's funny, but not really true. There are quite a few brilliant extremists in the world. For example, do you think the people responsible for the Spanish Inquisition had lazy minds or a lack of comprehension. .... The Nazis are another example where extremist views were the product of brilliant strategy (although sick and twisted, still brilliant). They almost conquered all of Europe, half of Africa and part of Russia. I wouldn't call that lazy or ign.... knew what they were doing when they taught hate to the German children...


That is an interesting observation. I would make a 'technical' challenge to it though: The ignorance in question is actually a _lack of insight_ on the part of the perpetrators. It is a kind of Catch 22 situation with narcissists/psychopaths; they may know that they cannot empathise, but they don't _know_ why their inability is a catastrophic failing.

That is the dark side of solipsism.
ValeriaT
2.6 / 5 (5) Oct 03, 2012
Padre pio is an egregious example.
Padre Pio is one of hundreds stigmatized people: 62 saints and additional 20 stigmatics were counted in the nineteenth century. Dr. Imbert counts 321 stigmatics in whom there is every reason to believe in a Divine action. I simply refuse the idea, all these peoples could be cheaters. On the contrary, just the people who refuse to consider it are the religious trolls, willing to deny every evidence. After all, mainstream science can ignore a way more materialistic phenomena for decades, like the cold fusion. It simply makes no study which could confirm it, so it has no reasons to deal with it at all. Even the Galileo opponents solved its situation in the same way: they simply refused to have look trough his telescope and solved their problem in this way.
TheGhostofOtto1923
3.5 / 5 (19) Oct 04, 2012
there is every reason to believe in a Divine action. I simply refuse the idea, all these peoples could be cheaters
Jigga I am surprised at you. I thought you had a more mature respect for science.

"Some modern research has indicated stigmata are of hysterical origin, or linked to dissociative identity disorders, especially the link between dietary constriction by self-starvation, dissociative mental states and self-mutilation, in the context of a religious belief.[22] Anorexia nervosa cases often display self-mutilation similar to stigmata as part of a ritualistic, obsessive compulsive disorder."
http://en.wikiped...research
http://en.wikiped...Hysteria
http://en.wikiped...disorder
TheGhostofOtto1923
3.5 / 5 (22) Oct 04, 2012
we have no conclusive evidence of nonexistence of God
We have conclusive, incontrovertible evidence that the gods, goddesses, and godmen of the holy books do not exist. We have reached six sigma confidence in this.

So why would some non-denominational einsteinian vaporgod be inflicting Xian-specific wounds on fanatics? Even shiia will do to themselves what their god cannot:
http://www.youtub...a_player

As divine intervention is the most fantastical explanation, all other explanations must be exhausted first.

This is how we properly examine stigmatics:
http://www.csicop..._bernas/
TheGhostofOtto1923
3.5 / 5 (22) Oct 04, 2012
From your source the catholic encyclopedia:

"In order to make clear what manner of work they were to publish, the editors issued, in February, 1906, a pamphlet..."

-And this pamphlet contained the following text:

"The work is entirely new, and not merely a translation or a compilation from other encyclopedia sources. The Editors have insisted that the articles should contain the latest and most accurate information to be obtained from the standard works on each subject."

-So we go to their page on stigmatics and find:

"Their existence is so well established historically that, as a general thing, they are no longer disputed by unbelievers..."

-And we further see at the bottom that all the refs date to 1912. We also see 'copyright 2009 Kevin knight'.

-So despite the spurious (lying) implication that this source is 'entirely new' circa 2009, we realize that the info is at least 100 yrs old.

We have learned a hole lot since, yes? This crap is used all over the net as if current.
GSwift7
3 / 5 (4) Oct 04, 2012
Pradox:

narcissists/psychopaths; they may know that they cannot empathise, but they don't _know_ why their inability is a catastrophic failing


The Nazzis were perhaps a poor example, and what you say is probably valid. I think it can be taken a step farther even. In the case of extreme views, I don't think you need the sociopathic condition to get the result of being blind to the harm your actions might cause, or the faults with your position. Many people who hold extreme views are willing to do harmful things "for the cause" and use a sort of circular rasoning that it's okay because it was "for the cause". People tend to be more willing to do negative things when they don't feel personally responsible. By joining an extreme group people are able to defer some of the personal responsibility for thier actions.
Calenur
3 / 5 (4) Oct 05, 2012
Theghostofotto1923, I meant to vote you five stars, however my phone has a rather imprecise touchscreen. I apologize.
TheGhostofOtto1923
3.4 / 5 (20) Oct 06, 2012
Theghostofotto1923, I meant to vote you five stars, however my phone has a rather imprecise touchscreen. I apologize.
Danke. Yeah my iPhone does that too. Must zoom in and touch far to the left or right.
jdbertron
1 / 5 (1) Oct 06, 2012
This is nothing new. The simulations were run in the 70's and are known as the Hawks and Doves phenomenon.
ryggesogn2
2.3 / 5 (3) Oct 06, 2012
This is nothing new. The simulations were run in the 70's and are known as the Hawks and Doves phenomenon.

Are literature searches still a prerequisite for scientific papers?
Lurker2358
1 / 5 (1) Oct 06, 2012
The neutral position on any one issue is often, but not always, in a position of ignorance.

If you are scaling a belief or knowledge along a single spectrum, there there are two basic possibilities when A and B disagree.

1, Either A or B is wrong, and C is undecided.
2, A and B are both wrong, C is still undecided.

Either way, being undecided in and of itself does not NECESSARILY help, unless it motivates the person to do independent research, in which case he/she may actually prove both A and B wrong and become the new prevailing theory, etc.

At any rate, when two statements or beliefs contradict one another at least one of them is wrong in some way.
typicalguy
5 / 5 (3) Oct 07, 2012
The typical aspect of behavior of extremists is, they're surrounding themselves with similar people, so that their stances don't appear so radical relatively. It enables them to deepen their extremist stance even more.

This. Some Jehovah's Witnesses came to my door and tried to convert me. When I told them I believed in evolution, one of the guy's reacted (I'm not exaggerating) like I slapped his face. His head flew to the side, his mouth opened in a frown, and his eyes showed complete disbelief. Based on the reaction he had, he has been completely insulated in a community of people that are creationists. He mentioned that the Earth is eternal. I asked him what will happen when the sun turns into a red giant. He told me that God will stop the sun from expanding. These are the beliefs of extremists my friends.
antialias_physorg
5 / 5 (1) Oct 08, 2012
We live in a world of extremes, where being fervently for or against an issue often becomes the dominant social ideology – until an opposing belief that is equally extreme emerges to challenge the first one, eventually becoming the new social paradigm. And so the cycle repeats, with one ideological extreme replacing another, and neither delivering a sustainable solution.

I would not say that this means the authors live in a 'world' of extremes. They live in a country of extremes. many countries in the world do not find it overly difficult to get majority votes for moderate parties.

Also, when all you have to chose from are two extremist rightwing parties (yes, compared to the rest of the world the democrats are extreme right-wing conservative, while the republicans are ultra-crazy conservative) you can't really talk about switching between extremes. It's only a switch between fringe notions of one extreme.
xX_GT_Xx
not rated yet Oct 08, 2012
This condensation and precipitation is a product of spontaneous symmetry breaking, which follows the energetically low state of society.


Heh. :) That's an awesome analogy. I don't know if society as a whole is energetically low, but there certainly is a low strata for whom reality seem to work differently than for the rest of us. A good explanation for the parallel universe often described on Fox news.
GSwift7
1 / 5 (1) Oct 08, 2012
1, Either A or B is wrong, and C is undecided.
2, A and B are both wrong, C is still undecided.


You are falling into a common trap. In my first post I mentioned the peer pressure that tries to force people to take a side. This implies that there's only two sides.

What if choice 3 is that neither A nor B can really prove that they are correct. What if the correct answer isn't known? Then C is the only true correct answer. If A and B both have evidence that they are correct, then it's likely that neither is completely correct, and both might be completely wrong.

IMO, for what it's worth: Whenever I see an issue that generates extremes, I set my BS radar on high alert mode any time I hear or read anything from either extreme position.
ryggesogn2
1 / 5 (1) Oct 08, 2012
What if choice 3 is that neither A nor B can really prove that they are correct

Is there really a third choice?
For Marxists the choices are capitalists or labor.
For statists it is either Dem or Rep.
For libertarians it is liberty or tyranny.
Any third way is because the issue is not clearly defined.
GSwift7
2.3 / 5 (3) Oct 08, 2012
Is there really a third choice?
Any third way is because the issue is not clearly defined


The original article is dealing with situations where there are moderate choices, and trying to explain why people gravitate to the extreme positions in stead of the moderate ones. In the real world, rather than your fictional world of idealistic absolutes, there are always moderate choices. There's always the null set, and there's usually a hybrid set that includes part of each extreme, for example, in the real world.
thematrix606
not rated yet Oct 09, 2012
If someone says, "let me tell you about my very moderate view", people listen politely (if you're lucky) and go their way. It's more exciting to have an extreme. It's easy to argue with big claims, rather than to think something through. People's brains don't start listening until they feel shocked. It's almost as if until there is a reason to attack or defend, we don't take an interest. So, extreme views provide that impetus.


That must be an American (i.e. Hollywood driven) concept. Most people don't need to be shocked to listen to each other. We call it respect. Take an example, listen to your old man for a change ;)
antialias_physorg
not rated yet Oct 09, 2012
I'd agree. the notion that one only is interested in something if it elicits an attack/defense response is ludicrous. That would mean that people could never discuss topics sensibly (which does happen from time to time). Attack/defense are emotional responses. But people also have brains (and some people actually use them).
GSwift7
1 / 5 (1) Oct 09, 2012
I'd agree. the notion that one only is interested in something if it elicits an attack/defense response is ludicrous. That would mean that people could never discuss topics sensibly


There's a neat phenomena with groups of people. I run training for problem solving at my job. One method used is to get people in a room and brainstorm. The problem with that is that if someone suggests something that sounds reasonable at the start, then everyone else will stop thinking and lock into that first idea. It creates an unconscious writer's block for anything else.

I think this relates to the attack/defense modality you mention. The media needs to create debate and drama to sell advertising, and I think they set the tone into an attack/defense posture. Then the general public just follows that lead. It's funny how often I hear people actually repeat the tag lines they get from the TV or radio shows.
antialias_physorg
not rated yet Oct 09, 2012
The problem with that is that if someone suggests something that sounds reasonable at the start, then everyone else will stop thinking

The way we circumvent this is that we hand out flashcards - and the first 5 minutes of brainstorming everyone is required to write 5 things on their flashcards without talking to each other (which may be trivial or complex ideas - doesn't matter. but it MUST be 5 items (at least)).
Then we collect and post them on a board. That way at least all initial ideas are out there. It lessens the chance that people think their ideas are 'stupid' and will not speak up at all after someone has voiced a seemingly better one.

And additional benefit is that you often get duplicates fom many people which usually (though not always) means that the idea isn't half bad. Most often the final solution is a hybrid of several of the ideas posted.
ryggesogn2
1 / 5 (2) Oct 09, 2012
there's usually a hybrid set

Then the initial problem not very well defined.
Ever practice the five 'whys'?
And I agree, brainstorming must be accomplished with no fear of rejection. All ideas are the table.
And there is an instinctive reaction to reject all unorthodox ideas, especially in a group setting.
This is why entrepreneurs are so important. They alone see what no others can envision and may succeed.
Another strong argument in support of individual liberty and free markets. The opportunity to succeed, and fail, with new, out of the box, 'extreme' ideas.
antialias_physorg
5 / 5 (1) Oct 10, 2012
there's usually a hybrid set

Then the initial problem not very well defined.

No. The thing is that different people will see problems under different aspects (and value the importance of these aspects differently).

Marketing will see things from the user point of view: they will favor 'obvious' (which does not necessarily mean 'trivial') stuff, but will not see things that are functional but somwhow hidden 'under the hood'.
Engineers will see the functional aspects on ideal user scenarios - but not so much the impact on real use in the field.
Legal will see risks (patent risks, ramifications of failure, ...)
Controlling will see financial issues with a particular solution.
Etc., etc.

A problem has many factors that influence the solution and each other. There is no 'perfect' definiton other than for trivial problems (which need no brainstorm).

It is very rare that someone comes up with one solution that is best in all these (and more) areas right off the bat.
ryggesogn2
1 / 5 (2) Oct 10, 2012
The USA decided upon a 'moderate' belief, to allow slavery to continue in states that wanted it. Such compromise in the 1790s led to further moderate beliefs to require any new free state must be balanced by a new slave state.
The end result of such moderation was the most deadly war the USA has ever engaged in and over a century of racial issues that continue to this day.
Had the Constitution been written with the extreme position that slavery was illegal, would the USA been created at all or survived attempts by the British to reclaim its colonies? I'm sure most anti-USA socialists who read this would have preferred the USA had stood up for principles and been destroyed in the 1800s so they could continue with their standard, historical tyrannical extremes.
antialias_physorg
5 / 5 (1) Oct 10, 2012
I'm sure most anti-USA socialists who read this would have preferred the USA had stood up for principles and been destroyed in the 1800s so they could continue with their standard, historical tyrannical extremes.

I hate to burst your bubble, but the USA isn't important enough for anyone (outside the US) to care about whether it exists or not.

If it had destroyed itself in the 1800's...meh
It hasn't so...meh.
ryggesogn2
2 / 5 (4) Oct 10, 2012
I'm sure most anti-USA socialists who read this would have preferred the USA had stood up for principles and been destroyed in the 1800s so they could continue with their standard, historical tyrannical extremes.

I hate to burst your bubble, but the USA isn't important enough for anyone (outside the US) to care about whether it exists or not.

If it had destroyed itself in the 1800's...meh
It hasn't so...meh.

I suspect all those in Europe who now do NOT speak German or Russian because neither Germany or Russia were able to militarily conquer Europe might disagree.
TheGhostofOtto1923
3.8 / 5 (16) Oct 11, 2012
the USA isn't important enough
Well the continent would still be here and what would it be filled with? Aztec communists? Japanese fascists?

The US was established by euros as that 'city on the hill' that new start where an entirely new system of self-government and free enterprise could be established totally separate from the corruption and decadence prevalent in an overcrowded world. It was swept clean and repopulated with the very best that all cultures could provide.

Getting here was never easy. Only those pragmatic enough to leave their cultures behind, who had enough spirit and courage and ingenuity to make the journey, would come. The dregs would be left to fight endless wars of mutual annihilation. And in each new generation only a few would have the common sense to leave and come here.

The economics and politics in the US is probably not as important as the caliber of it's citizens due to this unique and continuous Process of refinement.
TheGhostofOtto1923
3.8 / 5 (16) Oct 11, 2012
There is no clear demarkation among slavery, conscripted labor, and wage earners. Slaves have always been used to do work. What good is paying people who have nothing to spend their money on and nowhere to spend it? Isnt room and board just compensation? What is the difference between providing people a better life away from endless tribal warfare, disease, and starvation whether it be in Africa or Europe, or whether you pay a king in one place or another to let them go?

People were just as oppressed and abused in factories and sweatshops as they were on plantations, whether they were underpaid with money or with food and shelter. People CANNOT be paid with money until the proper systems are in place for them to spend it.

And yet the work still needs to be done. Slavery had finally become impractical in the south. Indigenes could provide adequate labor. The obsolete culture there was destroyed in the Traditional and most efficient Manner and these new citizens incorporated by Design.
Tausch
1 / 5 (1) Oct 11, 2012
I suspect all those in Europe who now do NOT speak German or Russian because neither Germany or Russia were able to militarily conquer Europe might disagree. - R.


I suspect all in the world want to speak all languages.
What is the motivation behind forgetting any language once learned?
What is this proving? What is this proof of?

DarkHorse66
5 / 5 (1) Oct 12, 2012
Well the continent would still be here and what would it be filled with? Aztec communists? Japanese fascists?[...]It was swept clean and repopulated with the very best that all cultures could provide.
Sorry Otto,but I have a problem with the terminology.To the first point:actually,if the corrupt& bloodthirsty Europeans had decided to leave well enough alone&NOT take what was not theirs to take(true, they did sign treaties, but they also broke them),the continent would still be filled with,& run by American Indians.There is nothing to say that if their collective sovereignty had been respected,that they could not have built a modern state all by themselves,especially once influenced by visitors rather than victors.As for communism or fascism,who says that that would be an automatic outcome?As for "sweeping clean", I believe the more appropriate term is "genocide".More than a few were deliberately eradicated because plenty of settlers saw them as a nuisance or 'just vermin'.DH66
ryggesogn2
1 / 5 (1) Oct 12, 2012
More than a few were deliberately eradicated

More than a few were not deliberately eradicated because they had no immunity to many European diseases.
TheGhostofOtto1923
3.9 / 5 (15) Oct 12, 2012
would still be filled with,& run by American Indians.
You are painfully naive. Mesoamericans had cities larger than any in Europe. They had million-man armies. They had an advanced appreciation of technologies including metallurgy and shipbuilding, and celestial navigation.

The most advanced north American culture, the mississippean, was centuries behind. Had mesoamericans gotten hold of euro gunpowder through independent trade, they would quickly have filled up both continents, and gone on to threaten Europe.

Human cultures have a long and unbroken history of overpopulating and overrunning others. Have you not read it?
More than a few were not deliberately eradicated because they had no immunity to many European diseases.
Biowarfare is an ancient art. Sparta used plague against athens in the peloponnesian war. Mongols spread it throughout asia and into europe. More than a few (most) mesoamericans died from diseases deliberately spread in order to eradicate them.
TheGhostofOtto1923
3.9 / 5 (15) Oct 13, 2012
if the corrupt& bloodthirsty Europeans
God I hate all that 70s social propaganda... tabula rasa, noble savages, cocaine the good drug, EST, transcendental meditation... Remember when the maya used to be all peaceful and artistic? But then a little deforestation and digging revealed piles and piles of bones.

'Little Big Man' - did you see it? Dustin Hoffman said the translation of the Indian name for their tribe was 'the human beings'. How pastoral.

We now know that implicit in this identity was the understanding that all other tribes were somewhat less than human, and this meant it was ok to hunt and kill them. Before they killed you of course.

Internal altruism in conjunction with external animosity; those tribes which were better at maintaining these attributes would prevail over others in conflict. A few million years of this very unnatural selection made us the social beasts we are today. Religion was only a more efficient way of extending this equation over many tribes.