What is Groupthink?
Groupthink is an interesting phenomenon which can occur when a group of people gathers to make a decision. Essentially, desires for group cohesiveness and a quick decision cloud the judgment of the people in the group, leading to a decision which is less than ideal. Social psychologists have studied groupthink extensively in an attempt to understand the warning signs of this phenomenon, and to develop methods for avoiding groupthink. Irving Janis was one of the first social psychologists to delve into groupthink, publishing a study on groupthink in the context of foreign policy decisions in 1972. He argued that groupthink was probably responsible for some of the more unwise decisions made by the United States government, backing up his claim with studies of group dynamics. Many studies of groupthink focus on foreign policy, since the groups who make these kinds of decisions tend to be classically pressured and very cohesive, setting up an ideal situation for groupthink.
Several things characterize groupthink. Members of the group tend to experience illusions of unamity, morality, and invulnerability within the group, meaning that they think everyone agrees, they are under the impression that their decisions are morally based, and they think that the decisions made within the group are always sound. Groupthink is also accompanied by self-censoring, in which members of the group stifle their opinions because they are afraid of controversy. The group often engages in heavy stereotyping of other groups and the situation they are dealing with, and there is often an immense pressure for conformity within the group. One of the hallmarks of groupthink is collective rationalization, in which the members of the group rationalize thoughts or decisions in flawed ways. This rationalization is often supported by so-called “mindguards,” who prevent contradictory information from entering the group discussion. As the members of the group work with incomplete information, high pressure, and a desire to conform, they come up with an idea which may not be balanced and well considered, like the decision to invade another country on the basis of flimsy evidence. There are a number of ways to avoid groupthink. Most importantly, the group must start out with no clear expectations and desires, and dissenting opinions must be encouraged, to the point of asking individual members of the group to argue against ideas as they are presented. Many organizations also break groups up into smaller committees which come back to the main group with their ideas, in the hopes of stimulating more discussion and creative ideas. In a situation where discussing decisions with people outside the group is feasible, people are encouraged to talk with people not in the group, to see whether their ideas will hold up in the outside world.
How often have I seen this happening in our organisation! The individual decisions of a few strong-willed people often pass off as group decisions merely because the so called leaders ,often self-appointed ,put down dissent by the simple method of shouting louder, using lots of fluffy unrelated data and oneupsmanship. In the group discussions held as part of the promotion process,several clear thinking people get left out because the other participants are brash enough to leave them no room for airing of their own views..The Management’s representatives ,who are supposed to evaluate the individual’s contribution get easily taken in by the apparent consensus that seems to be building up around the leader’s viewpoint and come to the facile conclusion that the aggressiveness of the so called leaders is really what they have to look for in the promotion process and end up rating them higher than the other participants who are considered "also-rans"
Language and self-awareness
tags: “inner speech”.”inner dialogue”
My own experience is that we do not talk to ourselves but merely comment on the course the mind is taking .There is a running commentary ,which goes on all the time .The commentary links up the different parts of the brain activity as we experience them and consolidates each cluster of related activities in a small capsule and makes us aware of it as an experience . There is a process of consolidation and arriving at an epigrammatic truth .Looked at this way the process takes place in language or a related brain activity and this way language helps in self-awareness.
Sunset for Ideology, Sunrise for Methodology?
Late 19th and early 20th century scholarship was dominated not by big ideas, but by methodological refinement and disciplinary consolidation.
the 19th and early 20th century, by contrast, took activities like philology, lexicology, and especially bibliography very seriously. Serious scholarship was concerned as much with organizing knowledge as it was with framing knowledge in an ideological construct.
I believe we are at a similar moment of change right now, that we are entering a new phase of scholarship that will be dominated not by ideas, but once again by organizing activities, both in terms of organizing knowledge and organizing ourselves and our work.
The new technology of the Internet has shifted the work of a rapidly growing number of scholars away from thinking big thoughts to forging new tools, methods, materials, techniques, and modes or work which will enable us to harness the still unwieldy, but obviously game-changing, information technologies now sitting on our desktops and in our pockets.
All of these things—collaborative encylcopedism, tool building, librarianship—fit uneasily into the standards of scholarship forged in the second half of the 20th century.
“Sunset for Ideology, Sunrise for Methodology?” by Tom Scheinfeldt
The process of knowledge aggregation through the open source technologies and use of new digital technologies is slowly taking place without our being aware of it always, except through the historians of science like this .But it is through the aggregation of individual bits of ideation that the process shall move forward .It is not merely the new tools or methodologies that shall take the humanity ahead in its journey towards mastering the world but the faster and more consolidated process of giving shape to new content developed through the innovative genius of the human mind .The role of methodologies is to facilitate giving shape to and bringing forth newer content which will add to the sum total of human knowledge.