The Down With GroupThink Manifesto

Have you ever wondered why so many people demand more services and lower taxes without noting a contradiction? Are you perplexed by the reality of a giant nation with two humungous groups of people that have eerily similar opinions on topics from economic policy to homosexual rights to war strategy? If so, you may be noticing a phenomenon more entrenched in the human psyche than war or hating taxes.
It’s called GroupThink. It is a phenomenon by which many different people hold essentially the same viewpoint on one or many issues, and/or act in very similar ways. It is the result of many people almost believing something as individuals, realizing they haven’t quite proven or thought through their belief, and finally finding that other people say that belief is justified and deciding it must therefore be justified. It is what your mother warned you about when she asked whether seeing your friends jumping off a bridge was reason enough to jump off a bridge. In generous words, the result of many people coming to a consensus. In unkind words, a herd mentality.

Groupthink is the basis for our political and social systems and this is natural. We may have moved from emperors and kings to presidents and prime ministers but we still ask for unitary leaders who can convincingly tell us the “right policies.” If there were no parties, perhaps nothing would get done, a common weakness in the more multifarious parliamentary systems. Perhaps we are not “civilized” enough to operate in such systems. Maybe we are too stubborn to find policy consensus and first need to find ourselves the best ideological groups.
Whatever the case, GroupThink strengthens ideas without those ideas having to be defended. When a doctrine is supported primarily by the number of people who adhere to it rather than the reason for its existence, it is harder to question that doctrine because its supporters will reflexively question you while rattling off any number of explanations not their own. It is precisely in this instance that it is important to send the masses who hold the doctrine aloft in search of answers to questions about that doctrine…hopefully bringing the doctrine to ground.

This because progress has never been sparked by conformity to old doctrines. We would not have grassroots campaigns if there had not once been a movement against the idea that only the wealthy should be able to vote. We would not wear jeans if there had not once been a movement against the idea that our wardrobes should consist almost entirely of suits. We would not have science without the idea that any idea can be proven wrong. And in ten years we will have some new social norm or law or breakthrough or general societal understanding that would not have been possible without a break from one of today’s comfortable ideas.

Therefore, a blog dedicated to fostering thought on all issues, promulgating interesting ideas that have yet to become factory farmed, and learning to think about mass-produced opinions.

P.S. I would like to impress upon all comers that I want individuals of many political/religious/societal/etc… beliefs to visit this blog and offer their opinions. I have a definite area of residence on the political spectrum and many opinions on many topics but I believe strongly in learning from one another and being open to the idea that you could be wrong. So please don't ignore this site if you disagree. At the very least, we’ll both know what we’re up against.

I can't understand why people are frightened of new ideas. I'm frightened of the old ones.
John Cage
US composer of avant-garde music (1912 - 1992)

The problem is never how to get new, innovative thoughts into your mind, but how to get old ones out. Every mind is a building filled with archaic furniture. Clean out a corner of your mind and creativity will instantly fill it.
Dee Hock

It is not worth an intelligent man's time to be in the majority. By definition, there are already enough people to do that.
G. H. Hardy
English mathematician (1877 - 1947)

Men fear thought as they fear nothing else on earth -- more than ruin -- more even than death.... Thought is subversive and revolutionary, destructive and terrible, thought is merciless to privilege, established institutions, and comfortable habit. Thought looks into the pit of hell and is not afraid. Thought is great and swift and free, the light of the world, and the chief glory of man.
Bertrand Russell
British author, mathematician, & philosopher (1872 - 1970)

Don't worry about people stealing an idea. If it's original, you will have to ram it down their throats.
Howard Aiken
US computer scientist (1900 - 1973)

The human mind treats a new idea the same way the body treats a strange protein; it rejects it.
P. B. Medawar
British (Brazilian-born) anatomist (1915 - )

To be conscious that you are ignorant is a great step to knowledge.
Benjamin Disraeli, Sybil, 1845
British politician (1804 - 1881)

In all affairs it's a healthy thing now and then to hang a question mark on the things you have long taken for granted.
Bertrand Russell
British author, mathematician, & philosopher (1872 - 1970)

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