Who Is A Nuance Extremist?

The term I accidentally heard on a Swedish podcast is a dominant obstructor of progress



Photo by BenMoses M on Unsplash

Menacing title, isn’t it? What quality or state of being is this? Who is a nuance extremist?

Let’s set the terminology right first. A nuance extremist is not just somebody who has trouble making a decision.

Case one

Dad sets out to buy a new phone for himself. He spends months scrutinizing the comparison tables between different devices and analyses the hardware from all possible angles. The big question of an Android vs. an iPhone occupies his days and nights. His browser tabs are causing his laptop to shriek STOP! Several months go by, and dad cannot make up his mind.


Dad might have a degree of obsessive-compulsive disorder. But he is not a nuance extremist.

Case two

We are going to take quite a leap here. So, please buckle up!

A man is listening to a debate between a historian who is documenting Germany under Nazi rule and a far-right white supremacist. The historian brings facts and statistics about the atrocities committed. However, the white supremacist, unable to compete with accurate historical records, claims that the matter is not that black and white. Because you cannot only look at the wrong things, you should also consider that Hitler was a vegetarian and a painter. He also loved his dogs.

After the debate, you ask the man what he thinks. The man mumbles for a while and admits that there are, indeed, different shades of grey. He cannot decide!


We have a nuance extremist.

So, who is a nuance extremist?

In both cases, our protagonists cannot make up their minds. But there is a subtle difference here.

Being undecided per se is not necessarily a bad thing. It is, to an extent, entirely rational. There are many forks on everybody’s road about which we should stop and wonder.

The problem starts when somebody’s undecidedness and inaction have the potential to ruin other people’s lives. A dad who…