Political extremism spreads like cancer on democracy. A few malignant cells infect others till the body dies. Watch for these symptoms.

Trygve Olson has trained thousands of activists in forty countries with International Republican Institute (IRI) to build democracies. As a Senior Lincoln Project Advisor, he now trains Americans about political extremism.

How do people become extremists? What are symptoms of this political cancer? How can it be fought? How can the others be trained to identify and counter political extremism? This blog covers:

  • The four stages by which people turn into political extremists
  • How to train others on spotting and countering political extremism
  • How to give better Powerpoint presentations with an onscreen teleprompter
  • Slides, script and video clips of “Faith or Fear: The Steps To extremism”

Faith or Fear: The steps to extremism

The foundation of political extremism lies within events causing distress like the pandemic. Political extremism in a society results from credible individuals — politicians, media, or pundits for example — who take advantage of this distress by providing cognitively simplistic answers to achieve their objectives.

Four stages of extremism

  1. Psychological distress: Events such as the pandemic, unemployment, poverty that increase people’s need for answers.
  2. Simplicity: It is human nature to want simple solutions. They provide stability and certainty when confronting complex problems.
  3. Overconfidence: The point of becoming an extremist occurs when individuals become overconfident in their perceived truths from cognitively simplistic answers — even when facts and sometimes they themselves realize the answers might not be true. Those succumbing to…
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