Cheat-Seeking Missles

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Incestuous Amplification

My post of a couple days back, Beware of Goring, described Al Gore's pressure tactics on scientists who opposed his stand on global warming, as well as the herd mentality among global warming scientists. As could be predicted even with a flawed global warming computer model, it drew a series of oh-so-typical comments from a leftist/warmie hothead.

Said leftist/warmie, Nordie, made such ludicrous and ignorant statements as:
  • "And how come no scientists have spoken out, disproving the global warming scientists?"
  • "There's no debate in the peer reviewed scientific journals. The only 'debate' comes from oil-funded scientists who are paid to keep you stupid. It's evidently working."
My friend Neil got a chuckle out of all this and called it a fine example of "incestuous amplification." Fortunately, he also sent along a link to Word Spy, which tells us:
incestuous amplification n. The reinforcement of set beliefs among like-minded people, leading to miscalculations and errors in judgment.
Cass Sunstein provided further nuance in an 2003 LATimes piece titled "The Power of Dissent," which is no longer available on line:
In a nutshell: Like-minded people, talking only with one another, usually end up believing a more extreme version of what they thought before they started to talk.
You might also call it egocasting or mindblindness.

The global warming advocates are certainly guilty of incestuous amplification, and do a very good job of illustrating Sunstein's proposition that it drives the herd to more extreme beliefs than each individual held before gathering into their milling herd.

Another example: Bush Derangement Syndrome. The poor prez gets more stupid every time the herd gets together -- without even opening his mouth!

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