Why moderate viewpoints get squashed

Mickey Mellen
3 min readDec 19, 2020

I was recently listening to an episode of the Hidden Brain podcast (the episode was “ A Conspiracy of Silence “) and it raised an interesting idea.

The bulk of the podcast was on the subject of preference falsification, the idea where people will intentionally falsify their preferences when with other people. These little lies can be socially beneficial, such as supporting a friend when they get a new haircut (“Do you like it?”, “Yes, it’s great!”), but can have some huge downsides.

Immigration

Shankar Vendantam, the host, raised an interesting scenario that I think may of us have seen:

Preference falsification is more likely to help people that have strong views or extreme views rather than moderate.

If you think there should be, for example, zero immigration to the United States, you can call anyone who has even mildly pro-immigrant views a traitor. On the other hand if you think there should be open borders to the United States, you can call anyone who calls for any immigration restrictions a racist.

I feel it’s harder to do this if you have moderate views precisely because moderation suggests a certain amount of flexibility, nuance, or even compromise.

When people hold extreme views, their feeling is that you either agree with their extreme view on one end of the spectrum or you’re against them — there is no middle ground.

Ballot Issues

I’ve seen the same on Facebook. With the current ballot fraud claims being made here in the state of Georgia following the 2020 election, there is no room for middle ground. I’ve tried to raise questions with people on both sides, simply to help determine the truth, and it doesn’t go well. Even when there is concrete evidence that something is true or false, if it goes against that person’s narrative, you’re “against” them.

It seems that some of the fraud claims are possibly true, most are likely not, but taking even a small step toward the middle is dangerous water.

Undecided Voters

The biggest example of this was in the months leading up to the election. Personally, it took me a while to decide who to vote for as…

--

--

Mickey Mellen

I’m a cofounder of @GreenMellen, and I’m into WordPress, blogging and seo. Love my two girls, gadgets, Google Earth, and I try to run when I can.