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I'm trying to mentally describe someone who seems that they don't believe the opinions they say, but only say them on platforms because they know they will get a massive amount of support and praise for holding such a, typically common, belief.

This person may try to start an argument on the winning side when nobody was debating in the first place.

Ex. A man goes on Facebook and writes "Irish people are people, too!". They get unanimous support and praise because their claim is nearly universally supported by friends, but there was no reason to even bring it up as there was no clear indication that Irish people were not being treated as people, or he may have made up a figurative scenario. He may not even care about these imaginary people he described, but he knows people will agree with him and pat him on the back for having the moral high ground, and nobody can tear him down because his viewpoint is so not at all controversial.

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I believe that the word you are looking for is demagogue.

Here is the entry:

demagogue: a person, especially a political leader, who wins support by exciting the emotions of ordinary people rather than by having good or morally right ideas

  • That is the word! +1 :) Wonderful. I learned this now. – Maulik V May 19 '17 at 12:42
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With the utmost caution against bringing any actual political discussion into this, here are a few possibilities:

  1. Populist

This would describe, in particular a politician, a person who says whatever it takes to get the popular support of the masses. This does not quite get into what you are saying.

  1. Virtue signaling

This is a neologism, and is a loaded term that may offend certain people or imply you have specific political beliefs. This refers to the practice of people openly espousing popular "correct" beliefs in order to demonstrate that they are "good people".

  1. Shit-stirrer

Maybe not quite what you need. Someone who goes to places where this is no trouble, then makes trouble for the sake of making trouble.

  1. Agitator

In a similar vein, a person who just wants to create trouble. It implies that they "agitate" other people to become emotional like they are, for the purpose of perhaps forming a mob or achieving a political/social goal.

  1. Slacktivist

Another neologism, also be careful how you use this. Someone who spends a lot of time talking about and supporting the "right" political causes, but doing very little actual activism.

  • Virtue signalling is the best descriptor so far, thanks very much! Is there a similar word or idea to describe "virtue signalling" if the act in question is not necessarily virtuous nor a political belief, just a common opinion? For example, if I said "Breaking Bad is such a good show" simply because I know a lot of people will defend or agree with me? – Feeble Minded Man Mar 8 '17 at 21:35
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You can use the term, "hypocritical" which means to state something the person does not practice or follow, themself.

  • 1
    Will you please provide a link to a resource to support your claims? A dictionary, a book... – virolino Apr 22 at 5:29

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