Christopher Caldwell reviews the new book Going to Extremes.
(I guess it takes a Harvard professor to state the obvious and get paid for it — that is: people like to be around people who are like themselves and share their values. And if these values are sincerely and deeply held, they will resist being around people who don’t share them, too. Oddly enough!)
Sunstein is torn. The central insight of this book is that deliberation, far from bringing people together, can drive them to extremes. Bien-pensant campaigns of public information and “dialogue” therefore risk doing more harm than good. (…)
Sunstein refers to bad extremists as having a “crippled epistemology”: They know less than they think they do, and what they know is biased. But, really, the same might be said of Martin Luther King or Mother Theresa.