The Truth About Extremism

Cass Sunstein brings new meaning to the expression ‘digging your heels into the ground.’ When people sit down to talk things over, he writes in his new book Going to Extremes, they generally drift towards the extreme sides of their own arguments. Sunstein, legal scholar and Obama’s nominee as regulatory czar, doesn’t discuss his own boss in the book, but, as Slate points out, analyzes the extreme behaviors of groups with whom he’s intimately tied. According to Slate, Sunstein argues that “Ideology, it turns out, is not just a matter of opinions or positions—it is a predisposition to receive some kinds of evidence and not others.” But it’s a general walk-through of examples, Slate writes, rather than a fleshed-out study, concluding: “The book is less a fully mustered argument than a collection of write-ups of half a dozen research projects clustered around the social dynamics of extremism.”