Culture Wars/Current Controversies

People With Extreme Political Views Have Trouble Thinking About Their Own Thinking

Having dealt with nutbag “extremists” (left, right, religious, countercultural) my entire life, I generally agree with the arguments of this article. But a major qualification involves the need to reject the view that holding “centrist” views reflect psychological “normality,” while holding “extremist” views reflects abnormality. As Caitlin Johnstone has pointed out, the true “extremists” are the “centrist” empire apologists who think that the millions of deaths caused by the US empire are just another policy issue (or no issue at all), with the Communists who want to nationalize the entire economy, or militiamen/sovereign citizens who wage armed struggle against drivers’ licensing laws and who want to strip government down to the county level, being “moderates” in comparison.

By Sara Chodosh

Popular Science

Radical political views of all sorts seem to shape our lives to an almost unprecedented extent. But what attracts people to the fringes? A study from researchers at University College London offers some insight into one characteristic of those who hold extreme beliefs—their metacognition, or ability to evaluate whether or not they might be wrong.

“It’s been known for some time now that in studies of people holding radical beliefs, that they tend to… express higher confidence in their beliefs than others,” says Steve Fleming, a UCL cognitive neuroscientist and one of the paper’s authors. “But it was unknown whether this was just a general sense of confidence in everything they believe, or whether it was reflective of a change in metacognition.”

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3 replies »

  1. The article above says:
    “As Caitlin Johnstone has pointed out, the true “extremists” are the “centrist” empire apologists who think that the millions of deaths caused by the US empire are just another policy issue (or no issue at all),”

    Consider “democide”, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Democide , government .
    Basically, people killed by government. Probably 250 million in the 20th century.
    Oddly, the person who coined the term, R.J. Rummel, did not want to include people killed in wars in the total. That makes no sense: Wars are typically started by governments, not ordinary citizens.

    • That was a problem that I always had with Rummel’s work as well. He was at pointing out the body count generated by avowedly totalitarian regimes in terms of their internal purges, genocides, deliberately caused famines, etc. But he was far too uncritical of the body count generated by the European colonial empires and liberal democracies in their wars of conquest or subterfuge with other states. His politics were actually pretty shitty. He was essentially a neocon who promoted “democratic peace theory.”

  2. you all already know that I’m clearly a Countercultural Extremist, as in 1960s style with a Post-Modern Weeaboo twist, Keith Preston & everybody else reading this.

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