In our information age, when technological progress has become the measure of success, and moral standards and high concepts of eternal values have faded into the background, one cannot but pay attention to such a thing as the Overton window. In this article, we will try to describe as clearly as possible the essence of this phenomenon and its terrifying destructive potential.
The Overton window (also sometimes referred to as the window of discourse) is the concept of having limits on the acceptable range of public opinions regarding public morality. This is a theory with the help of which any idea can be planted in the minds of any, even a highly moral society. The boundaries for accepting such ideas are described by Overton's theory and are achieved through sequential actions consisting of clear steps. Below we will dwell on each of them in detail. The Overton window got its name in honor of the American sociologist Joseph Overton, who developed this concept in the mid-90s. Using this model, Overton proposed to evaluate the judgment of public opinion and the degree of its acceptability. In fact, he simply described a technology that has been operating since ancient times. It's just that in our digital age it has acquired detailed forms and mathematical accuracy.
With the help of this theory, absolutely any idea can be implanted into the consciousness of even the most orthodox society. It is done in several steps. A blatant example of it is euthanasia. The idea of mercy killing is not new. The invention of morphine in the 19th century to kill pain led society to believe that a less painful death was possible. But until the 20th century, most health organizations worldwide opposed voluntary euthanasia. However, in the 20th century, especially in its second half, people could observe how the Overton window operates in terms of changes in societal attitudes towards euthanasia. Numerous articles began to appear in the media that terminally ill patients, instead of suffering for a long time, have the right to choose a quick and painless death. Pro-euthanasia movements started to appear. Naturally, society did not immediately accept these attempts by the supporters of painless killing to prove their point of view was correct. But over time, they have achieved some success, and what was considered impossible 100 years ago is now the norm in six countries of the world - Belgium, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Canada, Colombia, and Spain. In some countries, such as Israel, Italy, Sweden, and some US states, passive euthanasia is allowed. In the Netherlands, euthanasia is allowed for children from 12 years of age (patients between 12 and 16 years of age require the consent of their parents). In Belgium, all people regardless of age are allowed to seek euthanasia.
Unfortunately, this means that there will be cases of completely groundless killings, including minor children. In 2012 in the UK, two philosophers ostensibly specialized in bioethics, Alberto Giubilini of the University of Milan and Francesca Minerva of the University of Melbourne and the University of Oxford, published an article in the Journal of Medical Ethics advocating killings of infants, including healthy ones. The article caused a scandal, but that was 10 years ago. What reaction will it cause in 10, 20, or 50 years? It is definitely worth reflecting on.
Speaking of which, if you want to discover whether you have critical-thinking skills, are sure that you have free will, and thus are immune to different kinds of propaganda, we suggest you take this Free Will Vs. Determinism test.
It works pretty simply. After all, the technology of social programming has been around for a long time. It is no coincidence that Nathan Rothschild, the founder of the Rothschild dynasty of billionaires, said: "Who owns the information, he owns the world". The great and the powerful of this world have always concealed the true meaning of certain events caused by artificial means. For example, one fine day, in some underdeveloped country, a foreign benefactor appears, who, with the help of billions of dollars in his funds, promotes some crucial reforms supposedly, but as a result of this, the country comes to default, and all its assets end up in the hands of the benefactor. Amazing "coincidence", isn't it? So, the window of discourse is divided into six stages, thanks to which public opinion is painlessly changed to the diametrically opposite one. The essence of the concept is that everything happens imperceptibly and seemingly in a natural way, although in the reality of facts it is done artificially. Using the Overton window, one can legalize anything. The topic of social programming is as old as the world, and the ruling classes of the world's elite are well aware of this.
But let’s take a look at Overton's technology's principle of operation using the example of cannibalism. Imagine that one of the TV hosts of some popular show suddenly mentions cannibalism, that is, the act of consuming a person as food, as something completely natural. Of course, this would be simply unthinkable! The reaction of society would be so violent that such a TV host would for sure be fired and maybe even prosecuted for violating one or another law on human rights. However, if the Overton window is triggered, then the legalization of cannibalism will seem like a standard task for a well-functioning technology.
Of course, initially, society perceives the idea of cannibalism as monstrous obscurantism. However, if this topic is often discussed through the media from different angles, people will get used to the very fact of the existence of this topic. No one is talking about accepting this as the norm. It is still unthinkable, but the taboo has already been lifted. The existence of the idea becomes known to the masses of people, and they no longer associate it exclusively with the wild times of the Neanderthals. Thus, society is ready for the next stage of the Overton window.
So, the complete ban on discussing the topic has been lifted, but the idea of cannibalism is still categorically rejected by people. From time to time, in one or another TV and Youtube video, we hear ultra-left statements related to the topic of cannibalism. But this is perceived as a radical delirium of lonely psychopaths. However, they begin to appear more and more often on the screens, and soon the public is already watching how whole groups of such radicals gather. They organize scientific symposiums, where, from the point of view of formal logic, they explain cannibalism as a natural phenomenon for ancient tribes. Various historical precedents are offered for consideration, such as, for example, a mother who, saving her child from starvation, gave him her blood to drink. At this stage, the Overton window is at its most critical stage. Instead of the concept of cannibalism, they begin to use the politically correct term - anthropophagy. The meaning is the same, but it sounds more scientific and less intimidating. People read or hear about proposals to legitimize this phenomenon here and there but still consider them radical and unthinkable. The principle "If you don't eat your neighbor, your neighbor will eat you" is being imposed on people. Of course, in the present civilized age, cannibalism is out of the question. But why not create a law on the permissibility of anthropophagy in exceptional situations - for example, during hunger or in special medical cases. If you are a public figure, media representatives will regularly ask you questions about your opinion on such a radical phenomenon as anthropophagy. Evasion answering is being strongly condemned. In people’s minds, a base of opinions of the most diverse members of society on cannibalism as such is accumulating.
The third step of the Overton window takes the idea to an acceptable level. The topic has been discussed for a long time, everyone is already used to it, and nobody has cold sweats anymore when they hear the word “cannibalism”. Increasingly, people hear the news that anthropophagi have been provoked into some kind of action, or that supporters of the "moderate" cannibalism movement are organizing a rally. Scientists continue to produce delusional assertions that the need to eat another person is inherent, especially since in different periods of history cannibalism was practiced to one degree or another, therefore this phenomenon is allegedly characteristic of people and is quite normal. The sane representatives of society are presented in a bad light as intolerant, backward people, haters of social minorities, and so on.
The fourth step brings the population to the perception of the rationality of anthropophagy. If one does not engage in cannibalism too much, it is quite acceptable. Entertainment shows with funny stories related to cannibalism appear on TV and Youtube. People laugh at this as something ordinary, albeit a little weird. The issue acquires many directions, types, and subspecies. Reputable members of society break the topic into unacceptable, acceptable, and reasonable elements. The process of legitimizing anthropophagy is being discussed.
In the fifth stage, the window of discourse has almost achieved its goal. Moving from the reasonableness of cannibalism to a standard phenomenon, the idea that this problem is very acute in society is being implanted in the mass consciousness. Tolerance towards this issue and its scientific background are no longer doubted by anyone. Independent public figures speak from a neutral position: “I am not like that, but I don’t care who eats what”. Many television products appear on social media, which cultivate the idea of eating human meat. Cannibalism is present in the most popular movies. It also includes statistics. People can regularly hear in the news that the percentage of anthropophagi inhabiting the Earth turned out to be unexpectedly large. Various tests are offered on the Internet to check for a hidden tendency to cannibalism. Suddenly it turns out that this or that popular actor or writer is directly related to anthropophagy. The topic finally comes to the forefront of the world media. Politicians and business people take it into circulation, and famous people speculate on it for personal gain. The question of the influence of human meat on the development of intelligence is considered. It is noted that the IQ of cannibals is significantly higher than that of people who do not eat human meat.
The final stage of the Overton window is a set of laws that allow cannibals to freely use and spread ideas of eating human meat. Any voice raised against this madness will be punished as an infringement of human rights. The concept of the depravity of those who oppose anthropophagy is being massively implanted. Everybody calls them misanthropes and limited people. Various pro-anthropophagy movements are being started. It becomes necessary to protect this social minority. At this stage, society is bloodless and crushed. No one finds the strength to resist the law-supported madness. From now on, cannibalism is a politically valid norm of life. The Overton window worked perfectly.
Some may wonder, "Can Joseph Overton's concept work for good purposes?" Maybe the answer can be positive. However, if you are a realist, your thought will not go in this direction. There is not enough time to describe the global historical processes that confirm the destructive essence of this theory. In this case, the question arises - is it really all over, and have we finally and irrevocably fallen for the hook, line, and sinker of our own technologies? Is the world conspiracy theory inexorably confirmed? As one wise man said, “The world government certainly exists. But these are not politicians known to us, but a non-personified power of money”. So is it possible that one day, some billionaire will want to use the Overton window to pull off an insane fraud with the public consciousness, and we will not be able to resist him? It is advisable to start thinking for yourself instead of mindlessly absorbing the information that various media are “cooking” for us in the Overton kitchens. If societal concepts of tolerance go beyond common sense, isn't it preferable to still have common sense? It is more than ever essential to understand that exactly where the border between good and evil is practically absent, the Overton window has every chance of implementing its destructive ideas.