Monday, August 23, 2010

Group Think

"If you don't read the newspaper, you're uninformed. If you read the newspaper, you're mis-informed." - Mark Twain

I had an interesting exchange with a friend of childhood friend on Facebook. My friend is a highly educated (and from the best of the best) woman of a certain age, as are her friends. I would describe my friend, going solely on her political postings (and those of her friends, a great many of which describe themselves as "Left" and/or "Liberal" and/or "Democrats") on Facebook, as very, if not extremely, aligned with the Left. (I enjoy political debate with my friend's friends as they are cordial and polite when engaged - something of a rarity on the Web, I find.) It is also worth noting that the "meat" of the argument of my co-responent was not made in haste - they thought about my response for an evening before responding themselves.

Still, I felt like I was in a debate from the 1980's movie, "Ground Hog's Day", where Bill Murray wakes up each morning only to find that its February 2 over and over again with each person EXCEPT him replays their part exactly.

Most of what I heard was right out of the Media. Whatever the media said about an event, well, that's the way it was. Since this individual is A Liberal/Democrat (self-described on FaceBook) from California, the media spiel (schpiel?) comported with the established political view of that regions's media.

Think about it. Does the media CHALLENGE their readers and viewers with ANYTHING?! NAFC. The media is not there to offend their customer, they are their to package the news in such ways that affirms their readers. It then follows that over time this affirmation would lead to a positive, or self re-inforcing, feed-back loop. People that tend to tune into the loonies of MSNBC and rest of the MSM will be every bit as affected as the people that that tend to tune in to the loonies at FOX News.

But neither of the major political persuasions of our time seems to see it this way. They seem to see it as, "Duuugh! Those people are sooooooo stuuupid!" (attempt at California accent), and then as proof of their morally and intellectually superior position(s), people on both sides will run off with material and "data" (lolololol!) regurgitated from the media serving their persuasion.

This is merely an observation of mine that has been percolating in the background until a hammer hit the bell during my recent Facebook experience, but as proof I will offer the support and resistance of BOTH sides to the recent Healthcare legislation:

The Legislation is over 1,000 pages of the most daunting, complex, boring, mean-spirited, torturous, convoluted BULL SH*T since Mein-Kampf... and while I have read the 57 page summation and have given a great deal of time and effort to Congressman Brady's published FLOW CHART of the legislation, I am only about 25% through the legislation itself (painful does not begin to describe the reading) - and, if I do say so myself... I am a gifted career-analyst! Its what I do! And I've made millions at it! Sorry, but if I am having a difficult time understanding the complexities of this with all of my experience, I sincerely doubt your local Congressman or Rachel Maddow or Glen Beck have any grasp whatsoever!!!

Yet your average highly educated, highly intelligent individual... having taken ZERO time to read the legislation... having no background in economics, whether self-taught for formally trained... not being informed about most things, whatsoever, other than what their media outlet tells them to believe... will absolutely take a crystal hard position on the matter to the point of anger. Is this not the definition of insanity? Is there any wonder as to the state of the body politic? People that are in perpetual frantic state between all of the complexities of our society are so sure of a proper course, and are as equally confident that a government agency will be able to run with the task... never mind government's track record... that they are willing to give up rights and liberties to permit the government to "make life fair"? It seems that that is indeed the way it is...

At this moment, I am absolutely sure that I am one of the few, remaining normal people left. And I feel confident about that. Wanna know why? Because I am absolutely, positively sure that I do not know what is best for everybody in every circumstance! That people can, and should, interpret their own environment, their own lives and circumstances, for themselves... and that they can do it better then I can. What a f****ing concept, huh??!!

I have come to the conclusion that one of the greatest dilemma's facing our society at this time is GROUP THINK. The inability to question the group's assertions and conclusions. Look at the Supreme Court... Yea, there is a Right and Left... yet all of these people come from the same 5 Law Schools.... and most hail from the Coasts... are there really no smart people from Duke, Auburn, Vanderbilt, University of Virginia....?

Our country's finances have placed us on a road to disaster... a disaster that could include a Constitutional Crisis complete with bloodshed... and worse... yet our political participants never seem to see their own hand, and their responsibility, in it. Why? Perhaps because the T.V. told them so.


"The mark of an immature man is that he wants to die nobly for a cause, while the mark of a mature man is that he wants to live humbly for one." - William Stekel




37 comments:

Joseph said...

At this moment, I am absolutely sure that I am one of the few, remaining normal people left.
Take comfort in the fact that we can congregate in a few rare places on the web, for now.

On the point of Ground Hog day do remember that Bill reached the point where he even tried death to get out of the repeated insanity although I haven't reached that point yet. :)

Long live Punxsutawney Phil!

Mayberry said...

Group think IS the problem! When we ceased to be individuals, we ceased to be Americans. Government "education" has been steering us toward the herd mentality for generations, as have most institutions of "higher" learning... If you haven't read it yet, check out Tom Baugh's "Starving the Monkeys". I think you'll find it most imformative...

Donal Lang said...

When you say 'group think', do you mean like Republicanism? Or 'Living the American Dream?

I still hold the view, expressed here before; 80% of people are sheep. I'm willing to accept I may be wrong in that, it might be 95%!

But hey, it makes it even more fun being a wolf!

Greg T. Jeffers said...

Donal:

Of course those are examples of "Group Think", so are the Boy Scouts, NAACP, Redneckism, Feminism...

Me thinks... What sets Group Think group's apart is the degree to which each group wishes to IMPOSE its will, or view point, and how much FORCE they are willing to engage to do so.

Stephen B. said...

I have to echo what Joseph said.

I have often wondered where I'd be now in my understanding of our energy, economic, and social predicament without the existence of the Internet, and particularly web blogs.

What would I know of Peak Oil, of real economics (not the stuff I took in college, which was but the beginning of my real education in the subject), of modern politics? Would I have ever met or read people such as Astyk, Simmons, Jeffers, or Bob Waldrop locally?

Perhaps without the Internet I'd have made better use of books and magazines and local sources of knowledge, but those sources, particularly books, by and large, do not serve up information in the timely manner needed as of late. Perhaps the major Boston newspapers and other media wouldn't have deteriorated so much without Internet competition. Maybe I would have found more information resources locally within my own town. I'm not sure.

But I'm very happy I've had sources such as The American Energy Crisis to share thoughts with other informed people.

I fear I'd be far more unprepared for what we see coming without the Internet of the past 12 years or so.

What's also amazing is that so many people have access to the same Internet we all do and yet when I talk to these other people, so many seem to be as uninformed as ever. (Yes, there danger of a certain arrogance on my part here.)

Now, as for how much longer we have this medium available to us.....?

bureaucrat said...

GROUPTHINK is what happens when people are just fine with things as they are, and most people are indeed fine with things as they are. Most are employed or are getting a government check. Most will live another day, they aren't drowning in depression, they eat and watch movies and wake up the next day and do it all over again.

When the time comes for energy to be a immediate newsworthy item, have you no faith that the media will be on it like mayonnaise on pickles? Have you not witnessed the last 20 years of CNN? When there is something to tell the people, it will be broadcast by the minute. Look at 9/11. They are out there (underfunded tho they are) -- just waiting.

For the time being, all is fine. We continue to be awash in everything (the result of a deflationary depression). The Mexican gulf oil production is dropping, the Nigerian oil production is likely dropping, the Venezuelans peaked in the 1970s, the Saudis have at best flatlined .. and yet every single gas station is full, the grocery stores are full, and you can get a house or a storefront for nickles.

Give it time. Wait for something to happen. Or you run the risk of ending like Simmons did .. crying wolf.

Anonymous said...

Bur,

Groupthink is what happens when people are told the same lies again and again until their eyes glaze over. You made a comment about the skewed distribution of wealth in the US, and immediately went off about redistribution of income. As I browsed the Internet this morning, I came across at least a dozen articles that did exactly the same, as if income and wealth were one and the same. They are not, but an argument is built for higher taxation and bigger government from that false premise. You parrot it just as you have been trained to do. We are all victims of this to some extent. It is pervasive. It is much harder to reject the lies that we know to be fact.

Regards,

Coal Guy

PioneerPreppy said...

Group think is really just what effects a person for the moment.

So many people who are branded with the "sheeple" mark are simply those without the time or need to look into things these days. So very many people out there are afraid to look. My girl friend is a good example of this, she will not watch or read "news" because honestly she is afraid of what she will find out.

Old men still think they are living in the 50's because nothing has happened to them to make them think otherwise. Happily married men will still apply outdated notions until they are drug through a family court. Government employees will promote the system till the cows come home. A domestic violence counselor will tell you DV is everywhere while a teacher will insist they build the future.

In that regard I agree with Bur but there is also alot to what Coalguy says as well. The media by presenting half truths will reinforce some views on those who have not been forced to find the truth yet. For instance that old video of the black guy with the sidearm a few months back that all the liberal media played over and over...up to the part it showed he was black anyway.

Unless the horse is thirsty leading it to water will not make it drink I guess.

bureaucrat said...

Bloomberg -- The biggest U.S. petroleum stockpiles in two decades are leading oil bears to predict further price declines that may lead OPEC to restrict production.

Inventories of crude and fuel products rose to 1.13 billion barrels last week, the highest level since the Energy Department began keeping combined weekly data in January 1990, according to a report Aug. 18. Oil has fallen 11 percent since reaching a three-month high on Aug. 3.

bureaucrat said...

I just calls them as I sees them, Carbon. :) Just maybe, sometimes the same thing also gets repeated cause it is just plain true.

Dextred1 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dextred1 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Fatkitten said...

Mr. Jeffers: Please do not make the association with the US health care plan and Mein Kamf. It is very offensive to Jewish people because it makes a mockery of what really happened in the Holocaust. And the right wing media is just as guilty of brainwashing in this country as the left wing media. Rupert Murdoch who owns Fox news is a ruthless power hungry tyrant who should not even be allowed in this country. By comparing Obama to Hitler you are lowering yourself to the level of Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck.
You are better than that. Show a touch of class. Obama may be many things but he is not a genocidal maniac. Socialism means government ownership of property and resources. Individual property ownership is 90% of the law in the US. Presidents come and go but that will not change.

Greg T. Jeffers said...

Fatkitten:

F**k off.

Greg T. Jeffers said...

Fatkitten:

Sorry, what I meant to say was REALY, REALY, REALY F**K OFF!

WTF are you talking about? WHat comparison between Obama and Hitler? My allusion to the quality of writing between Mein Kampf and the Legislation?

Don't you f**king dare try to censure me with your silly attachments.

Dextred1 said...

Jeffers,

hahaha. We must of been thinking the same thing.

Mayberry said...

Greg, you took the words out of my mouth! Though I pretty much had the same reaction to "If you think you’re free from group think I will call you a liar." from Dextred. I follow no one...

PioneerPreppy said...

Heh!!!

If this is just me being biased please let me know but it just seems those on the left get more outraged and indignant and fail to see when something is just complete turn around.

Like the code pink woman throwing the huge fit when protesters showed up in front of her house. I mean how could someone who does what she does not expect that?

Maybe that question is off topic but I think it kinda fits.

Anonymous said...

Seems like someone hit a nerve. You might want to think twice about allowing an open forum if you don't really want any debate

Dextred1 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mayberry said...

Blogs I "follow" mean nothing. I read them, and form my own opinions. Next....

Dextred1 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mayberry said...

It might be articulated by others, but I've come to my own conclusions. I have taken others' ideas and opinions, processed them myself, and formulated my own. That does not equal "group think". Heh, I'm at odds with virtually every "group" out there! In some ways...

Dextred1 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Greg T. Jeffers said...

Anon @ 5:17:

Hit a nerve? Jag-offs with that "gotcha" bullsh*t mentality should eat s*** and drop dead. This is a forum for intelligent discussion, not another PC trap...

Have something to say? Have at. Nobody died and left me in charge of everything intelligent... but try that Leftie, P.C. censorship B.S. and I will absolutely tell you to F**K OFF.

Dextred1 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dextred1 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dan said...

Dex,

When you see someone else on the right track, go with it. Pick it up, expand on it, and make it your own. It is the western way. One of the reasons the US used to lead the west is because we embraced the best ideals, without regard to origin, to a greater extent than anyone else; then trimmed the fluff off them, expanded on them and made them our own. What you are describing is totally different from groupthink.

Also, has anyone else notice how neat and totally encapsulated the arguments, articles, books, etc. are. The bill is over 2K pages, probably half graft, with god only knows how many independent variables. Yet it can be totally explained in fewer than 2K words. Once you move beyond one independent variable things start to get messy fast.

Dextred1 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dextred1 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dextred1 said...

My point was that group think by definition is a highly cohesive group of individuals that relegate non-conforming ideas to the back ground. In this case we are talking more about propaganda because of the amount of people involved. Even liberals often have very different opinions on things. Propaganda makes people temporally or permanently lose their moral barring, something like the Nazi‘s. They lose the ability to critically think because of the constant misinformation they are being fed. I did a terrible job of explaining what I was thinking earlier. But really the two ideas are closely related, with propaganda leading to a type of general group think. These benign thoughts are passed into the culture to slowly change opinions such as what mayberry was talking about in the school setting.

Anonymous said...

Dex,

That's what I was getting at too. The "truth" is becoming whatever gets repeated the most on TV.

Regards,

Coal Guy

Dextred1 said...

Coal Guy,

The thing people miss about it is that it is constantly pounded into them. Everyone thinks they are impervious to this type of thing, but we are all buying into it somewhat. I am reminded when Jeffers was talking about the Amish and how they had no guile (this is a good thing). That is in direct conflict with many of the leftist do-gooders I come into contact with. Not only do they have "guile" by the ton, that is many times all they have. No deep thoughts, no morals, no thinking, just flat reflexive opinions based on the scantest of knowledge.

PioneerPreppy said...

Why I admit TV likes to spread it's group think it is also telling that CBS, NBC and CNN rating have fallen so low.

People must be rebelling against their groupthink.

Anonymous said...

Research has shown that people will disregard whatever doesn't agree with their beliefs (regardless of political stripe). It is almost as if they literally can not see or hear reality that contradicts thier views.

Anonymous said...

Right this is called the confirmation bias.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Confirmation_bias

Thus most forums such as this and other 'debates' often are just recapitulations of the same author's pre-existing ideas and biases. I find that on most blogs I basically can read a few posts and find the same ideas over and over again. To me Bur is a great example, half of the posts are just him repeating himself and spewing the same stuff over and over again, and others as well.

I find I learn little from blog debates, beyond learning about the person behind the comments--which is something I could care less about, but people do love to argue, unfortunately it just leads most people to digging in deeper.

I would say most people fall into "niche-think" and reinforce their biases--they typical CNN-Liberal/Fox-Republican and their associated talking heads to feed into the viewers ego's and pre-existing ideas is just bias reinforcement to make themselves feel good.

Fare thee well
-Meiyo

Greg T. Jeffers said...

Meiyo... Meiyo...

Me thinks it unfair to lump everyone here in with Bur...

Recognizing that everyone of us is susceptible to "group think" or re-enforcement of our bias is the first step to thinking somewhat more outside of the group...