Downward Spirals of Silence
This is a post put on another of my forums by a poster named Machlin.  Wish there were more posters like hir around.  (Hir is a non-gender pronoun, not an error in spelling)

The post:

There is something on Wikipedia labeled as "The Downwards Spiral of Silence" where people will doubt their own opinions if everyone else is silent on one side of an issue.

For instance, if you lived in Nazi Germany, and if every last one of a thousand of your friends villifies against Jews, you will decide that you must be crazy to contradict them, and you will finally rail against Jews as well. And your best friend who privately thinks that Jews cannot be all that bad will finally throw in the towel and concede that Jews are bad because she knows that you are wise and that you cannot be wrong. The silence all starts from fear, and people only hear one side of the story and never hear the other side of the issure to gain a more balanced viewpoint, and the downwards spiral of prejudice gets worse.
I remember during the McMartin trials (I lived in that town) no one dared express the opinion that the kids were being bullied and brainwashed into making false accusations. In that silence, that vacuum of information, the public opinion appeared to be unanimous of the McMartin's guilt, which made the silent ones all think that they were alone in their opinions, and thus made them tend to join the majority.

The term "Spiral of Silence" explains this, but there needs to be a term coined for the "Spiral of Injustice" which is related. When ambitious authorities, experts and technicians are under the impression that ALL the other authorities are 100% SURE of a person's guilt, and therefore doubt their own eyes and jump on the bandwagon to validate a consensus opinion or theory.(the nail that sticks up the most gets hammered down). And then this spiral goes around and around like and re-enforces itself.

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