Belief is a powerful force in sociology. Belief runs our society, drives our economics, guides our education, defines our history, frame our present, and pave our future. What will happen if we drop a newcomer evolved to mirror others and who seeks social acceptance into a group that rationalizes conformity over truth?
This is a stand-alone post, which is a part of a series on social platforms and their arsenal of psychological tools.
Argumentum ad populum
We are the ingredients and the products of our society. A relation that forms a tight closed-loop and survives off each other. If a novice enters a society it becomes critical for her survival to accept it and get accepted by it. As she enters the society she will try to identify the society by observing its established beliefs. A very instinctive tool to find the truth, for an outsider, is popularity. It is a democratic signal of accepted voice in the community. If most believe in it; It must be the truth.
If it got a billion views, it must be right. If it is told by many, it must be the fact. If a song becomes popular, it must be good. In fact, popular songs encourage the industry to create similar songs. Clubs and venues spawn that play that kind of music, and the new music continuously gets produced to be played in those venues. It is a self-reinforcing cycle that works on the sheer argument of numbers.
If you really want to shock yourself, try to consider this fallacy along with the concept of herd mentality (people feel comfortable in following the masses). That is enough to give you a chilling picture of how effective is the role of media, and what harms are social media capable of inflicting. If you are bad at imagination, visit the wiki page of the fake news.
Okay! You are not one of the herd. You are not the one who is swayed by masses and you are wise enough to really know the truth. You simply choose to privately reject their false opinion and do not want to raise your voice and dully conform instead. Welcome to the realm of pluralistic ignorance.
Pluralistic ignorance is a situation where most people in a group reject an erroneous norm, yet incorrectly assumes that most others genuinely accepts it, and therefore publicly goes along with it despite private rejection.
The victims of pluralistic ignorance can see themselves as a deviant member of their peer group, an anomaly, an exception, someone who is not ‘in’ on the game, or as someone who is less knowledgeable than their peers. They develop the fear of resisting the assumed pretence and never publicly voice their opinion. This is how absurd policies and stupid mistakes never get corrected because we keep honouring our self-doubt and reinforcing them.
Break the ignorance and question of democracy!