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Going to Extremes: How Like Minds Unite and Divide

3.61  ·  Rating Details  ·  105 Ratings  ·  12 Reviews
Why do people become extremists? What makes people become so dismissive of opposing views? Why is political and cultural polarization so pervasive in America?
In Going to Extremes, renowned legal scholar and best-selling author Cass R. Sunstein offers startling insights into why and when people gravitate toward extremism. Sunstein marshals a wealth of evidence that shows t
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Hardcover, 199 pages
Published May 1st 2009 by Oxford University Press, USA (first published January 1st 2009)
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Ldrutman Drutman
Mar 26, 2011 Ldrutman Drutman rated it it was amazing
Back in 2005, a trio of researchers conducted a little experiment on deliberative democracy. They assembled groups of six citizens and asked them to get together to talk about a few politically charged issues (civil unions, affirmative action, global warming). Half the groups were made up exclusively of political conservatives, and half were made up exclusively of political liberals. The result: in almost every group, the individuals took on more extreme positions after talking with the folks wh ...more
John
Aug 20, 2009 John rated it liked it
This is a book about people with views to the far right or far left. It cites some interesting studies on human behavior. For example, one study concludes that when people of one extreme or the other get together, they are even more extreme after they meet than they were before. The extremism feeds on itself and makes itself stronger. So when people on the right interact only with other people on the right, they go farther to the right; when people on the left interact only with other people on ...more
Tarmo Jüristo
Dec 02, 2012 Tarmo Jüristo rated it liked it
"Going to Extremes" is a slim volume on a huge topic. Why does it happen that when a bunch of like-minded people discuss something, they almost invariably end up, both personally and collectively, holding an opinion that is much more radical than what they started with? And what should we do with this knowledge?

I was really torn between 3 and 4 stars for this book. What tilted the final verdict towards a lower score was perhaps due to the book's brevity, which in itself may not be a bad thing fo
...more
James
Jan 14, 2010 James rated it really liked it
Very good book about how extremist view points and politics are formed by individuals and groups. This book provides basically an extended literature review of studies on group opinion formation, why individuals will do things that in normal circumstances would be abhorent, and also on writings on how to prevent extremism. He finishes with a few examples of when extremism can be good, such as the American Revolution and the Civil Rights Movement.

He digs into some of the gray areas and embraces t
...more
Shinynickel
Off this review:

Going to Extremes: How Like Minds Unite and Divide
Cass Sunstein (Oxford University Press)
In Going to Extremes, Sunstein lays out a simple argument based equally on social science, historical analysis, and an eye on current events: Like-minded people amplify their beliefs when they are together. This “group polarization” can be found everywhere from Al-Qaeda training camps to the self-selected enclaves of information and opinion to which we gravitate online. This phenomenon isn’t
...more
jennifer
Jan 18, 2015 jennifer rated it really liked it
Interesting! and scary. surprisingly, this helped me to better appreciate the never ending and seemingly counterproductive opposition within the US government. checks and balances is where it's at, yo.
Iso Cambia
Recommended in Peter Boghossian's "A Manual For Creating Atheists" (p. 62).
Jeevan Arakal
Aug 06, 2013 Jeevan Arakal rated it really liked it
This book will be a useful reading for those of us who want to understand the pursuit of human endeavors in group settings; it presents a nuanced view of the same and offers many interesting questions for researchers in varied academic disciplines. The book will be a valuable resource for those of us trying to understand how human beings go to extremes, pursue change and inhibit it, accommodate and stifle others and those looking for possible solutions to solve the riddle of “group polarization” ...more
Edward ott
Jan 23, 2014 Edward ott rated it it was amazing
An excellent look at how badly things can go with any group
Kim
Dec 28, 2009 Kim rated it really liked it
Serious treatment of an important problem. However, while the author made concrete proposals directed to the leadership cadre, he gives very little advice for instituting positive change from the bottom up, which is where such change must begin.
Paddy
Jun 30, 2009 Paddy rated it liked it
Recommended to Paddy by: Amazon
Not much original material here, mostly a re-stating of classic studies and theories. A good idea for a book but not really fleshed out.
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Cass R. Sunstein is an American legal scholar, particularly in the fields of constitutional law, administrative law, environmental law, and law and behavioral economics, who currently is the Administrator of the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs in the Obama administration. For 27 years, Sunstein taught at the University of Chicago Law School, where he continues to teach as ...more
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