- 出版社: OUP USA; Reprint (2011年4月28日)
- 平装: 208页
- 语种： 英语
- ISBN: 0199754128
- 条形码: 0884925588184
- 商品尺寸: 20.8 x 1.5 x 13.7 cm
- 商品重量: 218 g
- ASIN: 0199754128
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Going to Extremes: How Like Minds Unite and Divide (英语) 平装 – 2011年4月28日
"A path-breaking exploration of the perils and possibilities created by polarization among the like-minded."―Kathleen Hall Jamieson, co-author of unSpun and Echo Chamber
Cass R. Sunstein is the Administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs in the Obama Administration and the Felix Frankfurter Professor of Law at Harvard University. He is the author of many books, including the New York Times best-seller Nudge (with Richard Thaler), Infotopia, Republic 2.0, Worst-Case Scenarios, Radicals in Robes, Why Societies Need Dissent, and Democracy and the Problem of Free Speech.
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If you would like to see the same thesis (how we get into cognitive opposition with each other and lock in) treated from a broader perspective (politics, business, marriage, family) try Mistakes Were Made but Not By Me (Carol Tavris, Elliott Aronson.)
Much of what SUNSTEIN says is very interesting (albeit not that new, see SHERMER Why People Believe Weird Things: Pseudoscience, Superstition, and Other Confusions of Our Time or SUROWIECKI The Wisdom of Crowds): far from being fearless rational machines, humans are delicate psychological complexes very sensitive to social pressures - simple conformism quickly veers toward extremism. The group is the social unit within which this phenomenon occurs. The smaller the group - the faster the shift towards extremism. The opening up of the group by social and political means is SUNSTEIN's method of choice to combat extremism.
So what happened in Ireland? I'd venture that it was not enhanced deliberation that changed people's mind, but something more fundamental. People were confronted with the consequences of their intended actions. They knew that this time around they'd risk expulsion from the EU, should their assent fail to materialise. The consequences were hardly foreseeable, but ominous, and they felt the risk not worth taking.
Opinions come cheap. We can have many, often even extreme opinions. We can become radical in our views when inside a group. But in the end, what counts is not what we think, but what is done. And before acting we must confront the likely consequences of our actions. At which point we may quickly change our mind - individually or collectively. Extremism, in my view, is very much evidence of dissonance between opinion and consequences. Simply being in a group exacerbates the problem: there consequences diffuse and dissipate. Combating extremism might then be also or foremost a matter of reducing this dissonance by improving the feed-back and accountability mechanisms to the individual and the group (juries award horrific damages because the award does not come out of their pockets; murderers often kill because they expect to get away with it).
On how to do so SUNSTEIN is mostly silent. Worse, he does not even put it at the centre of the discussion, though it should be at least at par with better deliberative structures (SUNSTEIN mentions `consequentialism' at pg. 132, but it is just a deliberative tool).
A good point (though one that gets lost under the heading: "Good extremism") is that new ideas have a greater chance to emerge in small groups. Just as allopatry brings forth speciation, isolated groups can generate a variety of novel ideas, some good, and many bad. Once they stand, they must be subjected to general deliberation and eventual vetting. Minorities are a dynamic and disruptive element in society.
SUNSTEIN discusses the MILGRAM and Stanford experiments at length. I'm not sure that they tell us anything. They are akin to disabling a car's steering wheel and brakes in order to prove that the car is dangerous when in motion. In any psychological experiment reality is replaced by the artificial and very summary experimental framework. The participant is asked to adopt and adapt. Having been asked to forego his moral compass, why are we surprised that he has none?