The Overton Window is a theory that has been used as a powerful tool to shape and manipulate public opinion. It was developed by Joseph P. Overton, a political scientist and senior vice president of the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. The Overton Window is a framework used by governments, media outlets, and other powerful entities to social engineer society by influencing how we think, act and behave. The Overton Window is a powerful tool that affects us all and has the potential to shape our society in ways we may not even be aware of. By understanding how it works, we can become aware of its influence and take steps to protect ourselves from its manipulation.
What is the Overton Window?
The Overton Window is a theory that attempts to define what ideas or concepts are acceptable to society at a given time and which ones are not. It identifies a range of ideas that are acceptable to society, and outside of that range are ideas that are not acceptable to society.
Origins of the Overton Window
The idea of the Overton Window comes from a paper written in 2001 by Joseph P. Overton. The paper was titled “The Case for Radical Change” in which Overton outlined his theory that there is a narrow window of accepted political ideas, and outside of that window are ideas that are considered politically unacceptable. This paper was written as a political challenge to those who believed that there were no ideas that were too radical or extreme to be accepted by society. This theory is often used by politicians, media outlets, and others in powerful positions to manipulate public opinion by controlling what is socially acceptable. This can be used to push people towards particular political positions or to enforce current political ideologies on a population.
The Overton Window Theory
According to the Overton Window theory, there is a limited range of political ideologies that are generally accepted by society. Political ideologies that are not acceptable exist outside of that window. On one end of the window of acceptable political ideologies is a very extreme ideology, and on the other end of the window is a very radical, extreme ideology. Anything that is politically acceptable falls within that window.
The goal of those who employ the Overton Window theory is to move the window of political ideas further toward their own ideology by moving the other end of the window further away from the most extreme acceptable ideology. The idea is to move society towards a more extreme version of an ideology that is politically acceptable. Politicians and media outlets often use this theory to push the political conversation toward an ideology they believe is more desirable or effective.
How the Overton Window is Used
The Overton Window theory can be used to shift the social and political conversation in a more desired direction or a particular political ideology. The goal is to shift the window of political ideas in a certain direction over a period of time. This is achieved by suggesting ideas or concepts that are at the extreme end of the window of political ideas that are acceptable to society. These ideas may seem very radical or extreme when they are first suggested, but they will eventually become accepted as the political conversation shifts toward that extreme idea.
Unfortunately, this method can be abused through the gradual destruction of human moral principles. And the most incomparable thing is that most people can’t even imagine something like this could occur. They naively believe that they make their own choices and make informed decisions.
Stages of the Overton Window
For every public problem, there are so-called windows of opportunity:
Let’s imagine that the Overtone window is being used for legalizing cannibalism and analyze all the stages based on this ‘hypothetical’ example.
Imagine that a TV host of some popular show suddenly speaks out about cannibalism as something quite natural. Of course, this is simply unthinkable! The reaction of society will be so violent that such a host will certainly be fired from their job and perhaps even incur some form of legal consequence for violating a particular law on human rights and freedoms.
However, if the Overton window were to be used for the legalization of cannibalism, what would it look like?
Stage 1: Unthinkable
Of course, for the initial perception, the idea of cannibalism looks in the eyes of society simply as a monstrous obscurantism. However, if you constantly touch this topic from different sides through the media, people will imperceptibly get used to the very fact of the existence of this topic. Nobody talks about accepting this as the norm.
This is still unthinkable, but the taboo has already been lifted. The existence of the idea becomes known to the broad 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.
Stage 2: Radical
So, the complete ban on discussing the topic has been lifted, but the idea of cannibalism is still categorically rejected by the population. Periodically, in one or another TV program, we hear statements related to the topic of cannibalism. But this is perceived as the radical nonsense of lonely psychopaths.
However, they are starting to appear on the screen more often, and soon the public is already watching whole groups of such radicals gather. They organize scientific symposiums where they try to explain cannibalism as a natural phenomenon of ancient tribes from the point of view of formal logic.
At this stage, the Overton Window is in the most crucial stage. Instead of the concept of cannibalism, they begin to use the correct term – anthropophagy. The meaning is the same, but it sounds more scientific. Proposals to legalize such a phenomenon, which are still considered unthinkable and radical, are being made.
The principle is imposed on people: “If you don’t eat the neighbor, then the neighbor will eat you.” No, no, cannibalism is out of the question at the present civilized time! But why not create a law on the permissibility of anthropophagy in exceptional cases of hunger or for medical reasons?
If you are a public figure, then the press will regularly ask you questions about your attitude to such a radical phenomenon as anthropophagy. Evasion of the answer is considered limited and is strongly condemned. In the minds of people, a database of reviews of various representatives of society about cannibalism, as such, is accumulating.
Stage 3: Acceptable
By this stage, the topic has been discussed for a long time, everyone has already gotten used to it, and no one is shocked when they hear the word “cannibalism.”
Increasingly, you can hear reports that anthropophiles were provoked to some action or supporters of the moderate cannibalism movement are going to a rally.
Scientists continue to produce delusional claims that the desire to eat another person is inherent in nature. Moreover, at different stages of history, cannibalism was practiced to one degree or another, and therefore this phenomenon is peculiar to people and is quite normal.
Sane representatives of society who don’t support cannibalism are exposed in a bad light as intolerant people, haters of social minorities, and so on.
Stage 4: Sensible
The fourth stage of the Overton window concept leads the population to perceive the reasonableness of the idea of anthropophagy. Entertainment TV programs come up with funny stories related to cannibalism. People laugh at it as something ordinary, although they still see it as a little strange phenomenon.
Respectable representatives of society divide the topic into unacceptable, acceptable, and quite reasonable elements. The process of legalizing anthropophagy is discussed.
Stage 5: Popular
Now the Overtone window has almost achieved its goal. Moving from the rationality of cannibalism to an ordinary standard, the idea that this phenomenon is very acute in society begins to be planted in the mass consciousness.
Tolerance and the scientific background of this issue are no longer in doubt. Some public figures speak with a neutral position: “I’m not like that myself, but I don’t care who eats what.”
A huge number of television products appear in the mass media that “cultivate” the idea of eating human meat. Cannibalism becomes a mandatory attribute of the most popular movies.
Statistics are also connected here. You can regularly hear in the news that the percentage of anthropophiles inhabiting our planet turned out to be unexpectedly large. Various tests are offered on the Internet to check the latent tendency to cannibalism. Suddenly it turns out that one or another popular actor or writer has a direct relationship with anthropophagy.
The topic finally comes to the fore of the world media by the type of issue of homosexuality in our time. This idea is taken into circulation by politicians and businessmen and is used to achieve personal benefits.
The question of the influence of human meat on the development of intelligence is seriously considered. It will be noticed that the IQ of cannibals is significantly higher than that of ordinary people.
Stage 6: The Political Norm
The final stage of the Overton Window is a set of laws that provide cannibals with the free use and dissemination of human-eating ideas. Any voice raised against total madness will be punished as encroaching on freedom and human rights.
The concept of the depravity of those who oppose anthropophagy is being massively implanted. They are called misanthropists and people of limited mental range.
Given the boundless tolerance of modern society, various movements will be established in defense of cannibals. The issue of protecting this social minority is becoming urgent.
No one, not even religious people, can find the strength to resist the madness supported by the law. From now on, eating a human being is a political, current norm of life.
Dangers of the Overton Window
The Overton Window is a very powerful tool that can be used to shape and alter public opinion. It is often employed by those who are in positions of power and who want to push society toward a certain ideology. It can be used to manipulate public opinion and to create a false consensus.
When the Overton Window theory is used to shape public opinion, only a very small percentage of society usually controls the direction of the conversation. This may create a false consensus or opinions of the majority when in fact, the opinions of the majority were never really fully taken into consideration.
Ways to Protect Yourself
The hardest thing in life is to be yourself. As you may have noticed, the Overton window is aimed precisely at stimulating the subconscious foundations of human life. We are afraid of appearing abnormal in a society where new ideologies are constantly imposed on us. We do not dare to object to a deliberately false statement if it is supported by the majority. All this does not allow us to go beyond the “normality” in the eyes of other people.
However, it is no wonder if, in the near future, a person who does not accept cannibalism will be considered abnormal! So wouldn’t it be better now that we have learned what an Overton window is to start thinking independently and not mindlessly consume the information that various media outlets prepare for us?
It is impossible to be good for everyone in the same way as it is impossible to be normal for everyone. And if the concept of tolerance goes beyond common sense in society, wouldn’t it be better to stay with common sense?
The Overton Window theory has been used to shape and alter public opinion for many years. It is important to be aware of the Overton Window and its influence. Be critical of political ideologies and ideas that are presented to you, and do not allow yourself to fall victim to the manipulation of the Overton window.