Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Busy Brain Sloth

Onions at the farmer's market. I am interrupting the travel journal because I wanted to tell you all about something I learned in class the other day about the psychology of small groups. Irving Janis, in studying group thinking, determined that there is a typical suspension of critical thinking seen in highly cohesive groups, especially when they are under stress. The seven properties of this behavior are as follows: 1. Illusion of invulnerability. 2. Sense of moral superiority. 3. Suppression of doubt or disagreement. 4. Pressure for unanimity (punishable by scapegoating, etc.) 5. Rationalization of dissenting information. 6. Insulation from outside input. 7. The "risky shift." Under extreme stress the group may often make a wild, radical, stupid decision and consider any disagreement with that group decision not only incorrect, but immoral and a betrayal. Does this remind you of anyone????? Before you freak out, I am not Republican-bashing here. (And even if I was, let's all try to remember that this is Slothville, not Politicallycorrectville.) That is not the point I am trying to make. I think that this information is fascinating because I recognize the behavior in others and, I hate to admit it, in myself. I have a sense that we have all experienced some if not all of these properties in our own lives at some point. I have to admit, though that some of the numbered properties made me think of certain groups immediately - before my mind could even censor anything. #1 .......ok, well, this one really does remind me of the Bush Administration. #2, of course, makes me think immediately of the protesters in front of Planned Parenthood. #3 brings the Catholic Church to mind, but also the Patriot Act. #4 ....well, this is everywhere. PETA, the Klan, 8th grade, the university I work at, you name it. #5 .....Creationists. All the students at Bob Jones University. #6 immediately made me think of Mormons. They are discouraged from reading anything other than the Book of Mormon. All outside information is deemed dangerous and corruptive. If they go to college they usually go to Brigham-Young. #7 suggests a possibility of what the War in Iraq may have been. A stupid, wild, radical decision made under the extreme stress following 9/11. I'm not saying that's what it was, just throwing it out there as a possibility. Or maybe what I mean is that as a group, a cohesive, freaked out group, a lot of people supported that war and a lot of those people were, unfortunately, able to make it a reality. Not necessarily Bush and his peeps but perhaps all the people (including Kerry) who voted to give Bush the power to wage his war. Just a thought.

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