Groupthink

We like to think that we are individuals, that we are rational, heuristic and logical. We like to believe that we weigh up evidence and make choices based on sound factual choices.

Unfortunately this is not how human beings work – particularly at this time when life is so complicated that not one single human being, no matter how clever, can possibly understand what is going on in the world. We are all semi-experts in a number of aspects and masters of none.

The reality is that humans are not rational; we are emotional. We buy into a view based on our gut feeling.

Having made that choice we then live in a bubble. We surround ourselves with like-minded people, tune in to news that reinforces our views, read books and interact with information that reflects our views and become more and more convinced of our position because our ‘group’ all thinks alike.

This ‘Groupthink’ is how all human beings operate.

Because these choices are not rational it is extremely hard to change anybody’s mind with ‘facts’. They have already chosen the ‘facts’ they are willing to believe. They search for evidence to support their emotional view and reject any ‘facts’ that do not support their group.

Hence we end up with Trumpists, Environmentalists, QAnon, Democrats, Republicans and all manner of conspiracy theory believers and cultists.

Thus we have newspapers and news channels, websites and internet propaganda, that feed their selected groups with the things they want to hear.

Groupthink is impervious to rationality.

Nobody is immune to Groupthink.

6 thoughts on “Groupthink

  1. Well said, Opher. Groupthink is one of the big problems of our age. Do you have any suggestions as to how to solve it?

    (I’m working on the problem. But it has many facets, and groupthink is only one of them).

    1. No – I really don’t know how to solve it Neil. I think it’s embedded in human psychology. It has become much more obvious because social media has used its algorithms to bolset it into something much bigger. It’s become a giant manipulating machine that people like Trump and Farage are using to their own advantage.

      1. But some of us are naturally immune to groupthink. I am one; Tubularsock, as he shows in his comment above, is another. Should we try to develop a vaccine against groupthink? And if so, into which orifice should it be injected?

      2. In your imagination. Nobody is immune to groupthink. The people that think they are immune simply do not recognise which group they are influenced by.
        I’m not sure if one can choose. If it’s personality or early influences. But, what is obvious, is that we all ‘choose’ our groups – some more consciously than others. Nobody is without bias. Recognising that is the first step to understanding.

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