The June 2000 American Economic Review has an article by
Blomberg & Harrington,  "A Theory of Rigid Extremists and
Flexible Moderates with an Application to the U.S. Congress".

They offer data showing a correlation between political
extremism and inflexibility in changing one's opinions.
They refer to a 1950 army survey with a correlation
between extreme views and holding those views strongly.
And they present new data on US congressfolk explaining
variance in ADA scores in terms of longer tenure and
being closer to the median view.

Their explanation is that opinion extremism and confidence
are initially independent, but those who are less confident
are more responsive to information, and thus move toward
some common value, while those who are more confident stay
put.  Harrington has a larger research program on the
evolution of flexibility and inflexibility
(see:  http://www.econ.jhu.edu/People/Harrington/)

Since some people on this list might be considered extremists,
what do you think of this explanation?  Are you extreme
because you are inflexible?

It bothers me that his results seem so symmetric - it should
be unusual for the ex post information to be smack in the
middle of the prior distribution.


Robin Hanson  [EMAIL PROTECTED]  http://hanson.gmu.edu
Asst. Prof. Economics, George Mason University
MSN 1D3, Carow Hall, Fairfax VA 22030
703-993-2326  FAX: 703-993-2323

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