Fallacy of moderation

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A good moderate compromise position between Obama and the GOP would seem to be halfway between the two of them -- which (in the last panel) just happens to be approximately where the GOP was originally standing (in the first panel).
1. One side offers an absurdly unethical and pointless position.
2. The other side objects.
3 & 4. A "sensible centrist" offers a compromise which, while precisely halfway between the two positions on a quantitative level, is hardly any more ethical or reasonable.
This is another way of expressing The Parable of the Killer of Hundreds and the Killer of None, and see also Both Sides)


The fallacy of moderation is a logical fallacy which occurs when one assumes that the truth, or a reasonable position, must lie approximately midway between two opposing opinions. It is also known as False Compromise and The Golden Mean Fallacy.

The fallacy of moderation is related to the technique of moving the fulcrum and the Overton window [W] concept in political theory [W].

Common phrases that imply this argument include:

  • "There are two sides to every argument." (implication: both sides are equally valid)
  • "Where there's smoke, there's fire." (implication: someone wouldn't make an argument if there wasn't some merit to it)
  • "Everyone's entitled to their opinion." (implication: this disagreement is a matter of opinion, and not one that can be settled objectively)






Dr. Kevin Barrett said:

In court, for example, psychopaths can tell extreme bald-faced lies in a plausible manner, while their sane opponents are handicapped by an emotional predisposition to remain within hailing distance of the truth. Too often, the judge or jury imagines that the truth must be somewhere in the middle, and then issues decisions that benefit the psychopath.

...but only some of it, so that's okay.