Extremists More Willing To Share Their Opinions, Study Finds

From Ohio State University, an explanation for the existence of bloggers like Joe Romm and why many moderate scientists don’t speak out. There’s even “fake data” involved.

I’ve seen this phenomenon of extreme views being the most vocal in my own hometown of Chico, where a small vocal group of people often hold sway of the city council because they are the ones that show up up regularly to protest, well, just about anything. The council, seeing this regular vocal feedback, erroneously concludes that the view accurately represents the majority of city residents. The result is a train wreck, and the council sits there scratching their heads wondering why after making such decisions, they get their ears burned off by people unhappy with the decision. Bottom line, we all need to be more active in the public input process if we want decisions to be accurately reflected.


COLUMBUS, Ohio – People with relatively extreme opinions may be more willing to publicly share their views than those with more moderate views, according to a new study.

The key is that the extremists have to believe that more people share their views than actually do, the research found.

Kimberly Rios Morrison

The results may offer one possible explanation for our fractured political climate in the United States, where extreme liberal and conservative opinions often seem to dominate.

“When people with extreme views have this false sense that they are in the majority, they are more willing to express themselves,” said Kimberly Rios Morrison, co-author of the study and assistant professor of communication at Ohio State University.

How do people with extreme views believe they are in the majority?  This can happen in groups that tend to lean moderately in one direction on an issue.  Those that take the extreme version of their group’s viewpoint may believe that they actually represent the true views of their group, Morrison said.

One example is views about alcohol use among college students.

In a series of studies, Morrison and her co-author found that college students who were extremely pro-alcohol were more likely to express their opinions than others, even though most students surveyed were moderate in their views about alcohol use.

“Students who were stridently pro-alcohol tended to think that their opinion was much more popular than it actually was,” she said.  “They seemed to buy into the stereotype that college students are very comfortable with alcohol use.”

Morrison conducted the study with Dale Miller of Stanford University.  Their research appeared in a recent issue of the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology.


People with more extreme liberal views in the community may be more likely than others to attend publicly visible protests and display bumper stickers espousing their liberal views, because they think the community supports them.


The studies were done at Stanford University, which had a policy of prohibiting alcohol usage in common areas of all freshman dorms.  In the first study, 37 students were asked to rate their own views about this policy on a scale from 1 (very strongly opposed) to 9 (very strongly in favor).

The average student’s views were near the mid-point of the scale — but most rated the typical Stanford student as more pro-alcohol than themselves.

“There’s this stereotype that college students are very pro-alcohol, and even most college students believe it,” Morrison said.  “Most students think of themselves as less pro-alcohol than average.”

In the next two studies, students again rated themselves on similar scales that revealed how pro-alcohol they were.  They were then asked how willing they would be to discuss their views on alcohol use with other Stanford students.

In general, students who were the most pro-alcohol were the most likely to say they wanted to express their views, compared to those with moderate or anti-alcohol views.

However, in one study the researchers added a twist: they gave participants fake data which indicated that other Stanford students held relatively conservative, anti-alcohol views.

When extremely pro-alcohol students viewed this data, they were less likely to say they were willing to discuss alcohol usage with their fellow students.

“It is only when they have this sense that they are in the majority that extremely pro-alcohol students are more willing to express their views on the issue,” Morrison said.

However, students who had more extreme anti-alcohol views were not more likely to want to express their views, even when they saw the data that suggested a majority of their fellow students agreed with them.

“Their views that they are in the minority may be so deeply entrenched that it is difficult to change just based on our one experiment,” she said.  “In addition, they don’t have the experience expressing their opinions on the subject like the pro-alcohol extremists do, so they may not feel as comfortable.”

This finding shows that not all extremists are more willing to share their opinions – only those who hold more extreme versions of the group’s actual views.

These results have implications for how Americans view the political opinions of their communities and their political parties, Morrison said.

Take as an example a community that tends to be moderate politically, but leans slightly liberal.

People with more extreme liberal views in the community may be more likely than others to attend publicly visible protests and display bumper stickers espousing their liberal views, because they think the community supports them.

“Everyone else sees these extreme opinions being expressed on a regular basis and they may eventually come to believe their community is more liberal than it actually is,” Morrison said.  “The same process could occur in moderately conservative communities.

“You have a cycle that feeds on itself: the more you hear these extremists expressing their opinions, the more you are going to believe that those extreme beliefs are normal for your community.”

A similar process may occur in groups such as political parties.  Moderately conservative people who belong to the Republican Party, for example, may believe that people with extremely conservative views represent their party, because those are the opinions they hear most often.  However, that may not be true.

Morrison said when she and her colleagues were thinking about doing this study, they had in mind the phrase about the “silent majority” in the United States, which was popularized by President Richard Nixon and his vice-president, Spiro Agnew.  They referred to the silent majority as the people who supported the war in Vietnam, but who were overshadowed by the “vocal minority” against the war.

While there may not be one monolithic silent majority in the United States, Morrison said this study suggests that the minority may indeed be more vocal in some cases.

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Henry chance

There are so many topicswithin this topic.
First off, Algore. He is “expressive” and in religious terms could be called a zealot.
His arguments are 3% facts and 97% emotional. He is afraid of discussion but favors unquestioned claims. He uses visual aids (power point and hocky sticks with smoldering fires)
In true science there is an emotional ambivalence. “It is what it is”
Within all of this is man’s hunger or need for affirmation.
A secondary need is the need for vindication and excercise of vendettas on sources that disrupt affirmation.
I watch Algore with the sound turned off and see his making stuff up by studying his movements and expressions.
The i can listen without watching and hear him lay a bit one on us by raising his voice.

Back2Bat

Wait. I know where this is going. Bloggers are extremists!
I suggest that “moderates” are merely comfortable. Another Great Depression will change that.

coaldust

So we need a study to show this? Seems like obvious human nature to me. Perhaps some people will be enlightened by it.

Michael

Why do so many articles about climate change, global warming, global cooling fail to even use the words “Man-Made” as a pre-qualifier when speaking on these subjects?
Do they all assume that every one is to understand all climate is man-made? Or is it a subliminal suggestion to the audience to get them to believe that climate is their fault? Sounds like a sinister operation to me.

jack mosevich

Mt experience is that people with more extermist views see themselves as being superior to others, in possession of the truth, and having a desire to impose their beliefs on other people.

This is the explanation of a good case we all know, of the one who rallies against carbon powerhouses and carbon cargo trains. However it should not be generalized because it would involve all bloggers.
As far as verbal and writing “extremists” keep their expressions in verbal or written forms there is nothing to worry about.
However the epithet “extremist” it is “extremist” in itself.

Erick Barnes

Seems like they have a keen sense of the obvious. Was it necessary for there to be a study about this?

You see the same phenomenon even on this blog where very vocal pushers of pseudo-science are trying again and again to peddle their strange [at at times, extreme] views under the guise that Mainstream Science is faltering and that therefore any hare-brained scheme must be valid. Science literacy in times like today is more important than ever and from reading these weird posts we often see here, one might get the impression that it is lower than it [hopefully] is.

Pragmatic

Some of these extremist views are supported by the apparent complicity of knowledge. But knowledge is highly managed these days. Witness the absurd growth of wikipeodia-related results from google searches: 96% of wiki articles rank in the Google top ten.
While not all wiki-stuff is extreme or biased – it is discomforting to see any one information resource commandeer the market.
So, the absolutely brilliant guys at Distilled Co. have built a plugin for Firefox users that corrects the issue:
http://www.distilled.co.uk/blog/seo/search-google-without-wikipedia-a-firefox-search-plugin/
It tempers the pool from which extremists drink.
http://www.distilled.co.uk/blog/seo/search-google-without-wikipedia-a-firefox-search-plugin/

Ron de Haan
michel

Yes. I have noticed an increasing bitterness in the American political debate over recent years, and have worried about it and about where it is going and where it is taking the country. In microcosm it occurs in the climate wars, where you see at one ludicrous extreme the posters on tamino or RC – but one is sorry to say, you also find on this blog crazed rants about world government conspiracies and similar nuttery of a similar tone.
Yes, of course, you do not think they are crazed rants, they are just sober statements of the danger facing us from out of control left wing liberal conspirators…
Aristotle was very wise, about this as about many other things. Moderation is the key, restraint in debate, moderation in drawing conclusions from premises, focus on the facts and the argument, not the people. In the end, the science will tell the tale. But it can take a long time and be very expensive in human and financial terms before it finally becomes impossible to deny.
We should all consider, before posting, whether we are contributing to a moderate and factually oriented debate or not, and if we are not sure, refrain. Select All, followed by Delete, is sometimes one’s most valuable contribution. I know I use it, perhaps less often than I should, but I do use it, and commend it to others.

Dave

Isn’t it more accurate to say that people who THINK they’re in the majority are more willing to voice their opinions? “Extremist” is such a relative subjective term it is practically useless in behavioral studies. You could be an “extremist” yourself and may not even know it.
I don’t think vocalism is the problem in politics. If anything, the real problem is why people in general are not more vocal with respect to politics, to better reflect the public opinion to their representatives.
But that’s just my two cents.

Anthony,
It is the same in Grass Valley and Nevada City, it is always the same usual suspects that show up at City Council meetings. After attending several meetings, one can almost predict what is going come out of their mouths. The silent majority is too busy working, taking care of senior family members and helping the kids with home work. Most of the complainers are over 55 and retired, with empty nests, and too much time on their hands. Thus, we get skewed votes toward the liberal point of view, as the council thinks these 10-15 radicals represent the majority view.
Now that the City and County are streaming video of public meetings, the whining is easier to take with a glass of wine in hand. Unfortunately this new technology removes even more of the silent majority from the speaker podium.

Eric (skeptic)

Lief, you may not realize that the burning of fossil fuels and releasing them into the atmosphere has lowered the earth’s gravitational pull and thereby expanded the atmosphere and produced all the observed warming. I have calculated it as exactly 0.6 degrees C.
How did I do?

The voices in my head tell me I’m not extreme…
Michel, Good post (11:02:14). Moderation is indeed the key.

Unfortunately this new technology removes even more of the silent majority from the speaker podium.
In my humble opinion, whithou being an extremist, I think it is precisely the contrary: Thanks to blogs like this, using this technology, we, the silent majority have the speaker podium. (not every time, but most of..:-) )

“Leif Svalgaard (10:59:26) :
You see the same phenomenon even on this blog where very vocal pushers of pseudo-science are trying again and again to peddle their strange [at at times, extreme] views under the guise that Mainstream Science is faltering and that therefore any hare-brained scheme must be valid. Science literacy in times like today is more important than ever and from reading these weird posts we often see here, one might get the impression that it is lower than it [hopefully] is.”
WOW !!!!!
You nailed that one !!!

Paul

Seems like they have a keen sense of the obvious. Was it necessary for there to be a study about this?
I would say yes! Just like when it appeared obvious to me that AGW was real since everyone said the science was agreed, the debate was over – research was needed to prove that.

Zeke

I appreciate Wattsupwiththat bringing attention to politics that happen at a local level. It is good to keep involved in your city, county, and state affairs. If more people did that, there might be more leadership coming from the citizenry and less coming from Ivy Halls.
It is very true that those who are gainfully employed and running a household are not usually the people who will constantly show up at protests and townhalls. So the media and local politicians have a skewed view.

tarpon

It could also be that people that understand that AGW is a hoax, like scientists, engineers and mathematics types, may actually know it’s a hoax. But most of those people I know, I sure would say are extreme or outspoken.
It may just be that suppressing the opposing view has the effect of amplifying when curious people want to know what it’s all about.
The best science is open science.

Leif Svalgaard (10:59:26) : The problem is…that our brains are electrical too
Sometimes unipolar, other bi-polar. 🙂

hotrod

The obvious corollary that comes out of this, is that it is important for the moderate “skeptical community” to make an effort to be heard. That is how you break the “group think mentality” that drives the more extreme members of a group to slowly creep to more and more extreme positions.
This was the conclusion of research into aircraft accidents that turned out to be caused by flight engineers or second officers that were reluctant to voice their opinion that things were not going well. Many times the perceived stature and “command presence” of the captain/pilot kept them from speaking up even though they were seeing things in their instruments that indicated a problem was developing.
As a result to some aircraft companies teaching classes to their flight crews about the sinister effects of group think and encouraging them to speak up.
In the military, there are stories of senior officers recognizing this effect, making explicit statements to subordinates that there was “no rank in this airplane” if you see something wrong speak up.
That is why blogs like RC are so dangerous. If a person only draws their view of the world from highly moderated sources that actively suppress opposing views, it reinforces that feeling that “everyone feels like I do”, and the obvious conclusion from that world view, that anyone that does not agree with my/our world view is a crack pot and has no value.
That is why I value this blog so highly, as not only do I get to hear from all sorts of people, but it is useful to understand the mind set of the person with an opposing view even if you do not agree with him. The more you understand his/her world view the easier it is to frame an argument that is constructive. There are some folks here that obviously support AGW, but still debate the subject in a logic and reasonable manner. That helps me to understand that (as is always the case) the opposing view many times includes valid points.
When I was in high school debate the proposition we were debating was whether or not the U.S. should engage in military assistance programs. Over time we found that if you looked hard enough you could find supporting comments from both affirmative and negative positions, often from the same “authorities”.
Over time the debaters learned that there are no black and white issues they all have complex aspects and no single “correct” answer, only a series of bits of factual data, seasoned with value judgments. Often placing you in the position of figuring out in your world view which is the more important moral issue to defend.
Both sides ended up making choices of evil. A good example in this case is our recent discussion of DDT and the consequences of its ban for mosquito control.
Many of the people who proposed that ban, honestly and earnestly believed they were doing the right thing, and were protecting the world from a serious chemical threat. They simply tuned out or avoided facing the obvious collateral damage of millions of preventable deaths because they did not substitute an alternate, equally effective method of suppression to malaria as they banned DDT.
Like global warming it was the highly simplified, solution for a poorly understood complex problem that led to bad decision making. As medical doctors know full well, sometimes the best action is to take no action at all.
The medical dictum “first do no harm” would serve our world well if it was actively taught in engineering classes and science classes as well as medical schools.
You can’t “fix” a problem you don’t understand, and you are highly likely to make it worse by acting on faulty data, especially if you are unwilling to accept that your proposed solution might be wrong and are willing admit it is not having the results you expect and retreat in the face of further info.
Sometimes I see similarities between compulsive gamblers and the radical AGW proponents, they are so sure that their “system” will work they just keep doubling down even though it is obvious that they are losing their stake and should just walk away.
Larry

CodeTech

Yeah, I also was wondering who thought this was “new”. Apparently those researchers have rarely paid any attention to what is going on around them before.
Most people WANT to belong, have a group identification, be seen as “cool”, and the way to do that is to adopt the mindset of those around you. It is unfortunate that the ones who are most visible (and thus, most emulated) are the vocal extremes.
I suspect this has been accelerating at a comical rate since the 60s.
Meanwhile, others deliberately lead the herd in the direction that most benefits them. This explains fashions, pop music, etc. and another topic near and dear to our hearts here.

SteveSadlov

Extremists are less likely to work hard and are more likely to be slackers who spend more time in coffee houses than chained to their desks. Can’t attend council meetings when one is working until 8 or 9PM every day.

Al Gore's Holy Hologram

And if they are of the authoritarian mindset they are louder, more frequent, more deceptive and demeaning to those who disagree with them. Hence they want power and label us racists and deniers.

Eric (skeptic) (11:16:01) :
Lief, you may not realize that the burning of fossil fuels and […] How did I do?
Not emotional enough. After correcting the spelling of my name, please submit a much more angry and loaded posting denouncing my comment as the result of DOGMA.

Duncan

This is a study about… college binge drinking?
Sorry, my BS detector just blew a hole through my monitor.
I wonder whether we’d all jump to acceptance of the study, if it didn’t make us feel superior to those deluded extremists.
Because, of course, I’m not an extremist. And neither are you. It’s those other guys. Who hang out at that other place. They’re the extremists. Poor deluded fools.

Gary

We all can’t be “more active” on every issue that ticks us off. Being red in a blue state, or vice versa, would require constant public whining. We need a stridency rating on the ranters (ie, a weighting factor) so the decision makers can separate the noise from the reality.

“the empty can rattles the most” (Metallica)
Mrs assistant professor has nice smile. What about a guest post here?

MrAce

Adolfo Giurfa (11:42:37) :
Thanks to blogs every extrimist has an extrimist blog to go where he/she feels free to express his/her opinion.
But Global Warming is not a matter of opinion, it is a matter of science.

jeez

Or does this study show that extroverts in college may drink more and shy people drink less?
Gotta go with Duncan on this one. How this gets extrapolated to politics is beyond a stretch.

Oliver Ramsay

Moderation in all things.
Including Moderation.

anna v

How about this extremist?
http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5iO4WWB8dmaqwd0olzhdiXnpGOBxQD9BCATV80
By BEN JUDAH (AP) – 5 days ago
MOSCOW — Moscow’s mercurial mayor, famous for seeding clouds to prevent rain during parades, is escalating his war on weather with plans to slash this year’s snowfall by one-fifth in the Russian capital.
Mayor Yuri Luzhkov’s office will marshal the Russian air force and air defense systems to intercept advancing storm fronts and hit them with dry ice and silver iodine particles, city officials reportedly said this week.
The idea is to reduce the amount of snow that clogs Moscow’s frigid streets and costs the city millions to manage.

Somebody who really changes climate 🙂 for a change. Anthropogenic, that is.

Back2Bat

“You see the same phenomenon even on this blog where very vocal pushers of pseudo-science are trying again and again to peddle their strange [at at times, extreme] views under the guise that Mainstream Science is faltering and that therefore any hare-brained scheme must be valid.” Leif
Well, if science minded its own business and stuck to the scientific method it would not have discredited itself. Perhaps more self policing is called for. “Science” is do for a pruning since it has overstepped its bounds.
I know no one who denies quantum physics despite how weird it is. But when science pushes macro-evolution despite probability theory then it has overstepped its bounds. Scientists are just as fallible as other humans are outside their field.
Bring on the cold! Reality has a way of asserting itself.

Back2Bat

“Because, of course, I’m not an extremist. And neither are you. It’s those other guys. Who hang out at that other place. They’re the extremists. Poor deluded fools.” Duncan
Congratulations on completing Critical Thinking 101. Yes, I do judge they are deluded and I am not. That’s life.
How do I arrive at that conclusion?
It would take all day.

John F. Hultquist

Both good comments. I also think there are extreme ends to the “science literacy” issue Leif brings up and the many “stupendously stupid” quotes now circulating indicate these folks want to have their say.
I like the alternative approach put forth (I think) by Best of the Web’s James Taranto on WSJ.com – When some group asks that you, say turn your headlights on from Noon to 1 P.M. for a cause, he promotes the opposite cause by asking that you turn headlights on from 11 P.M. to Midnight. This strategy works well to give visibility or voice to the silent majority.

D. King

10 of the highest temperatures ever occurred yesterday.
Are you just going to sit there and do nothing!!!

Vincent

Dave:
“Isn’t it more accurate to say that people who THINK they’re in the majority are more willing to voice their opinions?”
Yes. That’s exactly what the study finds.
““It is only when they have this sense that they are in the majority that extremely pro-alcohol students are more willing to express their views on the issue,” Morrison said.”

jmbnf

In economics there is a saying often attributed to John Bates Clarke of economist having an “irrational passion for dispassionate rationality”.
I have colleagues who are professional money managers. One award winning manager who ran billions of dollars said you need to almost have multiple personalities. I tend to use the words “police oneself”. Do I believe this stock will go up because I have freely come to the conclusion or am I seeking out favourable opinion and information. Have I made money on similar stocks in the past and I am now bias. I have bought so many oil companies that I am now rooting for Oil to go up.
When Mojib Latif sent shock waves announcing that natural cycles may offset the AGW signal for a decade or two I believe he demonstrated that he is still a scientist but even then had to announce that he is “not a sceptic” to appease his more alarmist colleges who could not accept such information because it offended their beliefs.
This is why I think using the word Hoax is inappropriate. The people who believe in AGW being catastrophic believe it. It strikes to their core. I also believe the majority of scientist would check the box next to something more moderate like “Man is changing the atmosphere with increased CO2, CO2 is a greenhouse gas with the potential to raise temperature, by how much not sure” but if they had to bet to win a prize they would put the number under 3 degrees for overall sensitivity. Their ignorance of economics would also allow them to stay silent on the notion of CO2 reduction as it being “something we need to do anyway”. But as in the above case they would be the beer drinkers who thought they were more conservative than average.
Those who claim AGW to be a hoax in turn alienate themselves both from the extreme but also from the silent moderates. This is why I put hoaxers and alarmist in a similar category. Hoaxers and Alarmist have already checked the intellectual open-mindedness at the door.

Tony Hansen

So the most vocal local yokels get listened to by the pollies.
‘I believe in moderation in all things, including moderation – Oscar Wilde’

Adolfo Giurfa (11:52:37) :
The problem is…that our brains are electrical too
Sometimes unipolar, other bi-polar. :-)M

And sometimes [apparently] just fried or missing.

Back2Bat (12:39:23) :
But when science pushes macro-evolution despite probability theory then it has overstepped its bounds.
Here we go…
Science has no bounds [and shouldn’t have any!].

Back2Bat

“Somebody who really changes climate 🙂 for a change. Anthropogenic, that is.” Anna V
Thank God for the Russians (and the Chinese). This world would be even more insane without their potent competition.
We (the West) would not dare attempt climate modification because we believe that even though mankind is only natural any attempt to modify nature would be “unnatural.”
At least the ex-Commies are intellectually consistent.

Zeke

Leif Svalgaard (10:59:26) : No Dr S, it’s not a vocal minority. You are actually pretty well outnumbered.
Don’t sell yourself short, you work hard!

Tony Hansen (12:57:44) :
What about extremist moderators?, Are they moderate?
[REPLY – Extremely. ~ Evan]

James Sexton

A thought like this has probably already been expressed, still, ………really? Did they just say people with extreme views who think they’re in the majority are the loudest? Can we do a study with the same people, pour alcohol down them and see if they get louder or not? Way to go Captains obvious!!! Sarcasm aside, I believe, in the U.S.(I can’t comment about other nations but I suspect it is true in other places as well.) this has been a problem for some time. The vocal minorities are the ones that get attention in terms of media coverage and ultimately legislative or judicial preferential treatment. Thus, reinforcing what conventional wisdom has already taught us; “The squeaky wheel gets the grease.”

David Walton

Sounds like junk science to me. How the heck does one measure extremism? How does one know the difference between people who are not much interested in a subject from those who have a “moderate” view.
It sounds to me like the researchers are confusing extreme and moderate with interest and apathy.
Moreover, how can one be “pro-alcohol”? What the heck does that even mean? Are they similar to people who are “pro-marijuana” or “pro-abortion”?
Soft sciences and soft science research usually make me gag. If you think climate is packed full of variables think of the variables involved in sociological research.
That said, people with narrow, strongly held views do pack Chico city council meetings. That alone makes me more sympathetic to elected officials. Sometimes.

AEGeneral

People with more extreme liberal views in the community may be more likely than others to … display bumper stickers espousing their liberal views, because they think the community supports them.
They think the community supports them? Or they desire the community to support them because they have an inferiority complex?
Bumper stickers for extremist liberals are a form of personal therapy.
I don’t know how some of them can see where they’re driving. Some complexes are worse than others.

MartinGAtkins

Leif Svalgaard (10:59:26) :
You see the same phenomenon even on this blog where very vocal pushers of pseudo-science are trying again and again to peddle their strange [at at times, extreme] views under the guise that Mainstream Science is faltering
Have those pesky commoners been annoying you again? I know it must be so irritating when they dare try thinking for themselves.
The thing is Leif, you can do a lot by sharing your learning and helping those who struggle to understand but you are not an infallible god.
Absurd as some of the ideas here may seem with regard to your field of study, they can do no harm.
As for “views under the guise Mainstream Science is faltering” then I’m afraid it is. You restore confidence with your approach of public engagement but science as a whole has become a tax sucking whore.
Many are doing untold damage to society while the rest look away and covet their own little sanctuary.
If you want to know why the public see scientific opinion as a joke, just look at the dismal record of peer review and the junk submitted and passed by a cabal of fraudsters.

OceanTwo

As already stated, this isn’t new.
People will group and associate with people who think, look and act like themselves. With the internet, even if your views are a minority in your local network, you’ll find a much larger group who think/act/look like you. This reinforces your view as being ‘right’.
Unfortunately, this leads to a ‘majority’ rule: being convinced that your views are right, and by definition, the opposite view is ‘wrong’, and needs correcting. It’s nigh impossible to correct a majority view (unless you have an ‘equalizer’ – e.g. an army). To that end, you need a ‘majority’ even if it isn’t technically real – a consensus of a subset of the whole group who are recognized to represent the whole group.
This is done every day – a bench of justices, for example. However, it’s ripe for corruption. Each decision making group which represents the majority cannot have an unlimited reach. Each group can be powerful, but must out of necessity be limited.
If the majority believe that AGW is real, then we must do something about it. This is an absurdity, for several reasons. But lest not forget that the word ‘consensus’ is being surreptitiously used as an equivalent to the word majority (“there is no debate”, “everyone agrees”). Further it is built on the premise that a majority has the power to act – or rather, the ‘right’ to act.
But why is it absurd? Firstly, if the ‘majority’ believed in AGW, then they, by default as consumers, have the power to act. All the tools that generate CO2, do so on the demands of this majority. (If the power stations do not have customers they will not exist, and thus no CO2).
Secondly, and this is the terrifying aspect of ‘majority’ rule, what would happen when the majority makes a decision which affects a minority? I leave it up to the reader to fill in some examples, which exist today, and have existed in the past.
When one succumbs to majority rule, facts are irrelevant, and the outcome is invariably unpleasant.