Consider the following model.

        If you are ignorant it's reasonable to adopt what you perceive as the
consensus view but unreasonable to hold that view firmly since you
haven't investigated the issue in any depth.

        If you investigate the issue (you receive a series of signals) it may
turn out that the consensus view appears to be correct or it may turn
our that it appears to be incorrect in which case you are buffeted by
the signals towards an extreme.  As you are pushed towards the extreme
your views become firmer since they are the result of cumulative

        It thus happens that everyone at the extreme is firm since they have
received many signals pushing them to that extreme.  Some people in the
middle who have received middle signals are firm but many people are in
the middle because they are ignorant and simply adopt the consensus view
as the best first approximation.  Thus, a positive correlation between
extremeness and firmness.    

Dr. Alexander Tabarrok
Vice President and Director of Research
The Independent Institute
100 Swan Way
Oakland, CA, 94621-1428
Tel. 510-632-1366, FAX: 510-568-6040

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