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Wednesday, June 23, 2010

I am an Extremist

People accuse me of taking extreme or radical views. I agree, I am an extremist. And? So? So what? I do not understand what the problem is. I call this fallacy the fallacy of extremism. The fallacy says that extremism is always bad therefore one who is an extremist is committing some error. There are two major problems with this fallacy. One is that it is self-defeating. One who has the view that extremism is always bad has established an extreme position. Second the fallacy never explains why extremism is bad. There are plenty of subjects which are quite extremist but people never complain about for their extremism. Mathematics, for example, is an extremist subject. The standard of proof needs to be complete with all the important steps filled in. No mathematical statement will ever be accepted if this cannot be accomplished. The standard in science is also very extreme, it is fair to say that scientists are extremists. But so what? Scientists need to carefully review all of their experiments numerous of times. They cannot once moderately say "well, perhaps this time we should just call it a theory". There is nothing wrong with extremism in and of itself. The problem is when the extremists try to push their own views onto everyone else in a coercive manner. When it comes to skepticism I am an extremist as well. But again, I ask, what is the problem? I know it is very popular in college, among teenagers, and online discussions to take the more moderate position and say that all forms of extremism are bad. However, I still do not see why I should take moderate positions simply because they are moderate?


  1. I think we find that most things in life are just not black and white (at least that's what I've learned from my limited experience)

    Therefore extremism is perhaps not as realistic as a more moderate approach.

    But I guess theoretically extremism with a strong justification would be just as legitimate as a moderate approach.

  2. It has nothing to do with black and white. It has to do with taking a very rigid position regarding something.

  3. Rigid positions tend to come out of reasoning in a vacuum rather than out of experience or empirical reality. That's why extremists tend to be wrong.

  4. "Tend to be wrong" is not a criticism of the extemist. I can say that people who have opinions tend to be wrong also. Most people who form opinions end up being wrong. To conclude from this that we should not form opinions because most opinions tend to be wrong is a bad conclusion to come to.

    As I said science is extremism. Mathematics is very extremist. But mathematicians are not wrong in their conclusions. My entire point is that extremism in and of itself is not a problem. I think of myself as an extremist when it comes to trying to figure out the truth. But I do not see this as a vice or anything wrong with it.

  5. I don't agree that science or math are extremist so maybe we're just arguing definitions.

  6. Why is science or math not an extremist subject? Mathematicians never ever say to themselves, "well maybe this time we should accept this conjecture as a theorem even though we have some questionable steps". That would be a moderate stance because sometimes science or mathematics would give in. However, luckily for us this is not how science or mathematics works.

    A skeptic is an extremist. A skeptic will not accept some beliefs under any circumstances if they have no been demonstrated to him. That is a rather extremist position. But so what? Where is the problem with skeptical extremism? None.