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    I think this concept may be fundamental in explaining the mecanics of cohesion and division in society. This could help understand why politics tend to get more and more divided. Especially on the internet, but also IRL, people tend to confirm their ideas rather than confront them to different ones, as first observed by C. Wason (Peter C. Wason, « On the failure to eliminate hypotheses in a conceptual task », in Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 1960), and confirmed since. Or, one could argue, that reinforcing one's ideas (the ideas of a person or a community), building a shield of protective arguments around them, rather these arguments are solid and rationnal or just every means possible to deter ennemy attacks, is comparable to building evermore steps further away from people attacking these ideas, trying to change or oppose them.

    When it comes to people who have radicalized themselves to the point that they refuse to accept reality, in the sense of something we all agree to build from (global warming is real and manmade, there no such thing as "races" in humanity, if it's raining it is not not raining etc.), one could say they have build not inferential steps but an infertential wall. Conspiracy theorists for instance, or at least some of them, share some mecanims with people suffering from schizophrenia, in the sense that they will actually take arguments against their position as reinforcing this very position that is being contradicted, thinking that counterarguments are just trying to prevent them from discovering the truth, or that all people disagreeing with them are part of the conspiracy. It is as if they are building new steps when one tries to cross the already existing ones.

    Nevertheless, this grim presentation of mine shouldn't undermine the one great thing about this concept of inferential distance, that is, if this distance can be divided into steps, we can all reach for each other, even people that are staircases away.