Problem of Groupthink

The problem of groupthink happens in all closed systems. The people prevail upon one another to think the same way, and as a result of all thinking the same way arrive at the same errors. As they persecute people for thinking in any different way, they exclude crucial perspectives that have the capacity to check those errors. And the result, in all cases, is disaster.

We see that in a glaring example with the media in 1998, when it created a groupthink that attempted a coup against a legitimately elected president who had 70% public support, and then attacked an independent magazine called the Salon for "violating unspoken rules of media" with its revelation of the affair carried out for four years by Clinton prosecutor Henry Hyde. The "unspoken rules" here of course are the groupthink itself - the groupthink that decided it had the right and the power to depose one of America's most successful president against Constitutional law and against the will of the electorate. Whenever one sees "unspoken rules," what one sees is groupthink that seeks to bludgeon everyone into compliance with itself. And it becomes one's duty before democracy and freedom to destroy such groupthink.
Another obvious example of groupthink, that has had more disastrous results, has been found in people who claim that the economical-political infrastructure is "the real world" or even "reality," and that the world in which it exists is neither of the preceding. As people associate this entity with "reality," they become oblivious to the rest of reality - such as, for example, the reality of the planet in which this infrastructure exist. The results of this groupthink are obvious, and direct function of the mentality contained within it. If thisinfrastructure is "real world" and the whole of "real world," then it must take a lunatic to think of reality as having any existence outside of it, whether it be the biosphere, the climate, or even the solar system and the universe outside of it. Unfortunately for those who believe this and now for everyone else, the planet is real world also, and one without which the infrastructure would have no existence. This oversight in the definition of what is real world, and what is reality, has been the direct flaw in thinking responsible for the present climatic catastrophe.
Further examples of groupthink can be seen in professions, communities, and religions worldwide. The history of psychiatry shows going from one trend to another, with its concepts of what is health and what is sickness changing constantly as a result of the ideological underpinnings of the psychological thought of the time. Scott Peck, who was a Protestant, had a very different definition of what's wrong with the world than did Erich Fromm, Rollo May, Wilhelm Reich or Sigmund Freud. His influence was formative to psychiatry's errors in 1980s and 1990s, as it went from the humanistic purpose of uncovering and making the most of people's potential to suffocating and oppressing the same. As purpose of psychology became to bring about "social adjustment" and refer to anything else as a disease or a personality disorder, was completely left out of consideration the quality and the character of what it is to which the adjustment is forced. The predictable and inevitable result, once again: Perpetuation of groupthink, regardless of its actual character; silencing of all voices that had any capacity for checking it or showing its errors or its effects on the world and on the people inside of it; and unchecked, all-ensnaring, all-controlling perpetuation of whatever Big Lie bears the name of "sanity" and "reality" in the place and the time. The Big Lies including, but not being limited to, the following: that "real world" and "reality" do not include the reality of the planet and its inhabitants; that responsibility means poisoning the planet and having a $10 trillion debt; that "family values" is about working to create the end of the world before one's grandchildren have reached maturity; that character and loyalty and integrity is about never questioning anything one is told especially the preceding; that caring about such things is "whining" or "blaming" and not caring about them is personal responsibility; or that it is mental health to practice such beliefs and mental illness not to.
In closed communities such as the small towns, the groupthink becomes the law, the sanity, and the reality, unto itself. With all external scrutiny as to its practices of human and civil rights, as well as Constitutional law, silenced under the name of "getting government off people's backs," the communitarian usurpation becomes not only formative but absolute. The result is neither greater freedom, as promised, nor an improvement, as promised, in people's character. The result is severe degradation of both the preceding; a destruction of all meaningful freedom and human rights; a subversion of the police and the social services to hide, silence, and destroy the minds and the lives of its victims; and the worst of abuses and corruption growing up under the banner of "family" or "community" values and under the banner of "freedom," entraining in people the mental habits of conmen, liars, bullies, rapists, and murderers, and using personal and community loyalties to maintain these habits and pass them on under the name of "values," "tradition," "community," and "what this country really is about."

In the courts, we see a very similar problem. Manifestly fraudulent concepts such as the Parental Alienation Disorder (PAS) not only find their way into the system, but become the staple of the system, with all discussion of it silenced and prosecuted. People with no professional training, under the CAFCASS system, are authorized to make fraudulent diagnoses and decide lives of children. Corrupt lawyers and corrupt judges with money signs in their eyes in UK use the fallacious "Munchausen By Proxy" syndrome to tear babies from their mothers' breasts and sell them for $5,000 a piece to adoptive couples that are corrupt enough to take part in such a despicable scheme. The children then are adjudicated to being brought up by the most corrupt of all possible people, whether they be men who would use a racket such as PAS to silence the facts of their violence and sexual abuse toward their children, couples who would take children away from their mothers and buy up government agents to help along, or government entities that take part in these and related rackets. The groupthink is allowed to grow and reach such manifestly monstrous dimensions because the courts are left to make their own decisions without scrutiny by free press and by the people at the receiving end of these decisions, who are discredited, silenced, have their children taken away from them, or go to jail for speaking.

The groupthink happens to businesses; to governments; to professions; to countries; to regions of countries; to towns, villages, cultures, subcultures, even such organizations as NASA, where everyone knew about the impending Challenger disaster but nobody dared to speak up. A classic example of where this leads at the national level is the Emperor of China telling the English monarch that his "celestial empire" had everything that it needed, and that there was nothing that the pathetic island of England could offer it. Another is the Reagan Administration being so packed with narrow-minded loyalists that it acted as if it did not realize that it was creating a climate disaster and a public debt crisis; the even more obvious example being the Bush Jr. administration that not only added hugely to these problems but created tons of others at the top. Much of the time groupthink hurts others; at times it hurts also the people who are partaking of it. China would not have gone down the ruinous road that it did following its rejection of English offers of trade if it had made more intelligent decisions, and Republicans would not have gone down in the flaming defeat that it did in 2008 if they likewise had thought and conducted themselves more intelligently. There are some who think that the root of all wrong is sin, and others who think that the root of all suffering is desire; but these examples prove that the root of most man-made wrong in the world is bad thinking. Groupthink is a very serious and pervasive example of bad thinking, and one which must be rigorously checked if similar and worse situations are to be avoided.
There are people who claim, for example, that the Roman Empire was undone by its "decadence." The truth is that it too was undone by bad thinking. In 20 AD, Hero of Alexandria invented the steam engine. The Romans thought that it was uneconomical because slave labor was cheap and abundant enough for them. Had they exercised more foresight, they would have industrialized 1800 years early, created war machines that would have made mincemeat of any invading army, and been able to end the institution of slavery in which lived three-quarters of the population and which was the rightful ongoing source of hate and resentment against the Roman Empire and against "the world." The world would be speaking Latin to this day, and Romans would not be remembered as brutes but as creators of a great civilization.

In religions, the groupthink is at its most severe, with results of the worst sort. Religions come to believe that they are superior to "the world" - meaning of course the rational world, with such concepts in it as science, democracy, knowledge, human rights, women's rights and free speech - and then use the mechanisms of democracy that have allowed them freedom of religion to subvert this same democracy and deny everyone else not only freedom of religion and freedom from religion, but also every other right and liberty given to them by the same democratic system that they abuse for imposition of apocalyptic totalitarianism. Using fdenunciation of true scientific knowledge, family pressure, community pressure, fake psychology, spiritual fraud, and threats of eternal damnation, they then maintain this apocalyptic totalitarianism, with predictably destructive economic, political and social policies as its effect. In the same way as Hitler used the mechanisms of German democracy to impose totalitarianism, so do such groups as Islamists and Christian Coalition in the societies they inhabit. We have seen the direct results of both - the first with Taliban, the second with Bush, Blair and Howard governments - and both have been equivalently disastrous for their countries and for the world.
To an Islamist or a Christianist, anyone who is not a part of the cult is a sinner, a heretic, a savage, a false prophet or an enemy; anyone who is born into it is, to them, a horrible traitor and sinner if they ever leave it or get other thoughts into their heads than what the cult forces therein. All influences not of the cult are attacked and destroyed as far as is possible in the time and the place. The awakenings of intelligence, passion, or anything else that has the potential to lead the person away from the cult's and mind control, are seen as a threat, and the person is dealt with through demonization, brutality, brainwashing, entrapment in deliberately impossible situations, and whatever other forms of ensnarement, mind-destruction or life-destruction whose burden it is to "prove" the party line is thought up by the members of the cult and the scientists, psychologists, business people, judges, doctors, policemen and politicians whom they coopt. The cults thus become immune to checks on their groupthink, whether they be external to the cults or internal to them, and the work of deception, fraud, and ensnarement of people into apocalyptic totalitarianism can go on unchecked from either within or without - until, once again, the groupthink becomes so big as to project its anti-life ideology on the whole of the universe and work for a cataclysmic destruction of life on Earth before their grandchildren have learned how to read. At which point it becomes threat to life of people outside of it as well as to life itself, and the world has a choice either to follow the cult's line and bring about an artificial Armageddon, or to reject the cult's line and work to create a livable future for humanity - a future that extends to all of humanity, whether or not they believe in a pedophilic tyrant who bedded a nine-year-old girl at age 84 being the rightful source of theological and moral instruction for all mankind; an omnipotent entity that was not adequately omnipotent to beget more than one son and no daughters and needs mere humans to fight his wars; it being part of "celestial Empire" and "divine moral order" of Confucianism to see "a wife taken is like a pony bought: mine to ride and whip as I will" and to make the son of a robber also be a robber; ugliness being brought into existence by conceiving of beauty and not by failure to strive for it; world being brought into being by a cow and 150 million people being rightfully damned to horrific existence for the terrible sin of being born in a wrong family; woman and nature and "flesh" as being the source of all evil and the people believing such things as not; all creations of nature and works of humanity being "hubris" or "sin" and wanting everyone who is not oneself to burn in hell for eternity as being neither; brutality, degradation and abuse against wives and children being "family values" and being good to one's wife and children as being unmanly or unpatriotic or against God; AIDS being "God's way of controlling the homosexual population" and 9-11 having happened because "God took away protection from USA because of feminists and liberals"; science and democratic government as being error and sin and people claiming such things while benefiting from science and using the democratic institutions to practice their apocalyptic totalitarianism as being neither of the preceding; it being "morals" and "family values" and "spiritual truth" to wish and work for an Armageddon before one's grandchildren have reached maturity; the carbon emissions climate change crisis being result of the sins of "humanity" - meaning the liberal influence that knew and talked about it for 30 years, and not the Republican Christians who aggressively denied it for that long; or the world being 6,000 years old and ending at year 1000 - then year 1900 - then year 2000 - then year 2012 - and extending into however long people believe such things.

Right now, the groupthink of some of these entities is becoming apparent enough to call, and the groupthink of some others are threatening the survival of humanity and of life on the planet. Which means that it becomes a vital necessity to show these mentalities for what they are and for what are their effects as the logical and inevitable fruition of the belief mechanisms contained within them. With these exposed, there is greater chance at clarity and at better thinking and better decisions. Which means that there is a greater chance that the children being born now will live to see maturity and a sustainable livable world for generations to come.


Cold North Wind said...

Oh yes- shades of 1984. Groupthink. Truly excellent and thoughtful article. Thank you !!!!

e said...

Intellectual inbreeding