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Pluralistic ignorance and the last best hope on earth

The broader psychological principle at work here is “pluralistic ignorance,” in which individual members of a group do not believe something but mistakenly believe everyone else in the group believes it. When no one speaks up, it produces a “spiral of silence” that can lead to everything from binge drinking and hooking up to witch hunts and deadly ideologies.

Fortunately, there is a way to break this spiral of ignorance: knowledge and communication.

This is why totalitarian and theocratic regimes restrict speech, press, trade and travel and why the route to breaking the bonds of such repressive governments and ideologies is the spread of liberal democracy and open borders. This is why even here in the U.S.—the land of the free—we must openly endorse the rights of gays and atheists to be treated equally under the law and why “coming out” helps to break the spiral of silence. Knowledge and communication, especially when generated by science and technology, offer our last best hope on earth.

Source: How Skeptics Can Break the Cycle of False Beliefs in Scientific American

Pluralistic ign…

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