Thursday, December 26, 2019

Group Think

The "normal" behavior of humans is highly situational. These men are business owners and executives during the work week.

"I work with a    pick one*    and they are not a thing like you say."
*Social Justice Warrior, Global Warming Alarmists, Muslim, Catholic, Conservative, Main Stream Media reporter, Evangelical Christian....

A piece that has been missing in the dialog, such as there is, between conservatives and liberals is that human behavior is VERY situational. The behaviors you see at work or in other social settings are not a good predictors of how they will behave in other settings. That is, most people are oblivious to the markers and consequences of Group Think.

Markers of Group Think
Type I: Overestimations of the group — its power and morality

  • Illusions of invulnerability creating excessive optimism and encouraging risk taking. Impeachment anybody?
  • Unquestioned belief in the morality of the group, causing members to ignore the consequences of their actions.
Type II: Closed-mindedness

  • Rationalizing warnings that might challenge the group's assumptions.
  • Stereotyping those who are opposed to the group as weak, evil, biased, spiteful, impotent, or stupid.
Type III: Pressures toward uniformity

  • Self-censorship of ideas that deviate from the apparent group consensus.
  • Illusions of unanimity among group members, silence is viewed as agreement.
  • Direct pressure to conform placed on any member who questions the group, couched in terms of "disloyalty"
  • Mindguards— self-appointed members who shield the group from dissenting information.   -Wikipedia

Consequences of Group Think
The consequence of Group Think is that a sixteen-year-old boy, naked except for magical symbols painted on his torso, will run into machine gun fire.

Group Think is a form of metaphysics. In metaphysics, magic fails because the user did not believe enough, that is, the victim is always blamed for failure. To doubt or challenge the group orthodoxy is to plant the seeds of failure. Therefore, the group trapped in Group Think must not have a Plan B or carry a 72 hour bag or make alliances with other groups.

Armor against Group Think
  • Affirm that an optimal or near-optimal solution is more important than the illusion of perfect unanimity.
  • Affirm that the decision making process is based on rationality rather than emotion. Don't dismiss data that supports a different course of action.
  • Structure the decision making process so lower-status members are not intimidated. For example, have each member write down their preferred course of action and list the two main reasons why they prefer that action. Then report out lowest-status to highest to minimize ditto-heads.
  • Hardwire additional decision points into the process to make adjustments as additional data becomes available. The act of programming those additional points into the process is to recognize that the group might not be infallible and that optimal solutions sometimes have curved paths.
  • Include diversity around the table. 
The armor is not perfect. Groups can still get sucked into Group Think. But at least the group has a fighting chance to succeed.


  1. I watched group think at work last night. My wife and I had dinner at my sister and her husbands house. Also present were 2 of my adult children. My sister, her husband and my son engaged in a loud “ oh my god the orange man is bad and all those fools who believe in him are a bunch of racist tools” they think they are liberals but, in fact are very close minded. On the other hand my wife and daughter are truly liberal and vote for the person not the party and accept that people who vote and live differently may have honorable reasons for doing so. There was no chance that an intelligent conversation would occur so I stayed quiet. Its funny but I get their mind set, until I was about 50 I was a hard core lefty, then I started going to a conservative church. I thought republicans were soulless b@$tards and they thought I was merely uninformed. I came to realize these folks were truly good people and not the @&$#%’s I had always thought. I still disagree with my conservative friends about unionism and to a certain degree about the role of government in peoples lives, but I think they are merely misinformed.

    1. I don't remember the exact number, but Jesus compared humans to sheep something like forty times in the Gospels. I get that. Our view of reality is shaped, to a very large degree, by the flock/herd we run with.

      Liberal/Conservative is an occupational hazard.

      In a perfect world, people in the social sciences would spend half a year trying to make a 120 year old Mosin-Nagant rifle into a minute-of-angle shooter or some other purely objective task.

      An alternative would be to find a task where the secondary effects negate or poison the primary effects. One example might be attempting to lose weight by fasting without increased exercise. Long term, the body's basal metabolic rate resets to the lower intake. It becomes "thrifty".

      In a perfect world, engineers, farmers and miners would have to work with troubled youths who will only "perform" if they feel some degree of bonding with the adult.

  2. Shriners, like all the other masonic groups, are not above having fun, and are dedicated to the causes that improve the lives of children. Widows and orphans homes, vision care, language therapy, and crippled childrens/burn hospitals. AND they are non-denominational, and world-wide.


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