A Scale Without Gravity

In a recent conversation I cheerfully announced that as some people feel more strongly about the subject under discussion than I do and others feel less strongly about it, I just assume that I’m at the happy medium.

This is a very comfortable notion: that as long as some people are more rabidly nationalist/political and a few people are more indifferent, I must be at the exact ideal level of patriotism. Or because at least a few people think I am too lax about enforcing a standard and a few other people think I am too strict, I must be the one who’s right – the one everyone should imitate. It works for nearly every situation.

The logical fallacy of this assumption should be obvious. Even allowing that different approaches can be more effective in different situations, this model guarantees that in any given situation most people are going to be further from the ideal than others. And it’s not inconceivable that the person who is “more” or “less” (who probably also has people who are “more” or “less” than they are) is the one who’s right. While it is comforting in such a case to think that there are people who are more wrong than I am, it doesn’t change the fact that I’m wrong.

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