Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Quote of the Day: Groupthink

 

“If everybody is thinking alike, then somebody isn’t thinking.” — Gen. George S. Patton

Yesterday YouTube suggested that I would like The Mark Steyn Show Climate Change Forum, so I watched it. Whether it’s creepy that YouTube put this video at the top of my feed the day after I had been writing on Ricochet about climate change in general and the website of a panel member in particular, I’ll leave for others to decide. The panel discussion included a lot about how difficult it is for people to speak up or challenge the uniform thinking of their peers.

I experienced this type of censorship, or rather self-censorship, while working for a government consulting firm at the beginning of the Obama administration. While the company started hosting lunches to encourage dialogue on climate change, it simultaneously crafted a company stance designed to improve its marketability for contracts. Once it was clear what the company was selling, I learned very quickly that speaking up in disagreement would be pointless or worse, detrimental to my career prospects. I ended up quitting rather than be subject to constant propaganda with no welcome outlet for debate or dialogue. It’s not that I “deny the science” or whatever the latest accusation is, but I have long thought that CO2 emissions receive too much focus and land-use changes are not sufficiently considered. I could write a lot more on this topic, but that’s for another post.

This is about how our thinking is social, and yet we cannot simply rely on what everyone else is thinking. Other examples of groupthink must include the mainstream news coverage of the 2016 presidential election, and even the 2012 election coverage on conservative news and commentary sites. In the spring of 2016, I warned a friend that it wasn’t a good idea for the Huffington Post to have relegated all Trump coverage to the entertainment section, since it would leave them vulnerable to underestimating his actual political influence. I doubt she read many sources beyond HuffPo, and she was very shocked (traumatized?) when Trump won.

Patton obviously understood that leaving your ideas unchallenged made you weaker, creating real danger. Today there are many topics that people don’t feel free to discuss, especially if they would face hostility at work or at school. There are also assumptions people make about what everyone else thinks because confirming or disconfirming those assumptions would require wading into unpleasant conversations. Is this a timeless human problem or a problem that has gotten worse in recent years?

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  1. Arahant Member

    Lilly B: Is this a timeless human problem, a problem that has gotten worse in recent years?

    Pretty much timeless, although it is less prevalent in freer societies or organizations. The culture either supports or dissuades one from indulging in human nature too much.

    • #1
    • December 4, 2019, at 10:10 AM PST
    • 9 likes
  2. SpiritO'78 Member

    I watched a little of that Steyn show format as well. They need to figure out a way to make this climate change realism (or whatever you call it) seem more interesting. Those interviews are so boring I can’t imaging people not versed in the science would want to stick with it. I love Mark but his show is too long and he has a tendency to drone on. 

    • #2
    • December 4, 2019, at 10:12 AM PST
    • 6 likes
  3. Lilly B Coolidge
    Lilly B

    Arahant (View Comment):

    Lilly B: Is this a timeless human problem, a problem that has gotten worse in recent years?

    Pretty much timeless, although it is less prevalent in freer societies or organizations. The culture either supports or dissuades one from indulging in human nature too much.

    You’re so quick on the draw that you quoted my post before my (almost immediate) correction! 

    I think seeking government contracts discourages free thinking. In the end, it was way worse for my career to quit than to stick around a parrot the company line. But luckily, it was also the best choice for my family, life, and ultimate happiness. 

    • #3
    • December 4, 2019, at 10:39 AM PST
    • 6 likes
  4. Seawriter Contributor

    One more in my list I have to mark as used.

    • #4
    • December 4, 2019, at 10:52 AM PST
    • 5 likes
  5. Gumby Mark (R-Meth Lab of Demo… Thatcher

    I’ve seen it happen in my business career with team’s working on a project. Sometimes you have a dominant personality or everyone just accepts a starting premise without anyone willing to question it. Or everyone wants to show they are onboard with the boss’s great new idea.

    Today, with social media, I think it even more difficult to stand up against the onslaught if you deviate from groupthink. And it’s not just the onslaught – it can affect your career and job opportunities.

    • #5
    • December 4, 2019, at 11:18 AM PST
    • 6 likes
  6. Lilly B Coolidge
    Lilly B

    Seawriter (View Comment):

    One more in my list I have to mark as used.

    I hope it hasn’t been used before. I didn’t go back into the archives. I think you mean that you had thought of using it in the future, so sorry to steal your opportunity. Of course, your commentary would make it completely different and new, I’m sure.

    • #6
    • December 4, 2019, at 11:54 AM PST
    • 1 like
  7. Vectorman Thatcher

    Lilly B: There are also assumptions people make about what everyone else thinks because confirming or disconfirming those assumptions would require wading into unpleasant conversations. Is this a timeless human problem or a problem that has gotten worse in recent years?

    We all make assumptions about others based on experience. A friend and his wife came from the South, and he was an officer in the Navy. You would expect both of them to be at least moderate or conservative. After 3 years of discussing business issues at the Defense Companies we worked at, I find out that they are really very liberal, and his wife showed me her Hillary hat after the election. Our friendship was more important than politics, as it should be.


    The Quote of the Day series is the easiest way to start a fun conversation on Ricochet. There are many days available on the December Signup Sheet, including 3 next week! We even include tips for finding great quotes, so choose your favorite quote and sign up today!

    • #7
    • December 4, 2019, at 12:03 PM PST
    • 4 likes
  8. Seawriter Contributor

    Lilly B (View Comment):
    I hope it hasn’t been used before. I didn’t go back into the archives. I think you mean that you had thought of using it in the future, so sorry to steal your opportunity.

    It has not been used. I have a file of quotes I draw from. After I use them I make the text red, so I do not reuse them. If someone else uses them first, I make the text dark red.

    It is first-come, first-serve, or as they say in academia, who publishes first gets the credit.

    • #8
    • December 4, 2019, at 12:12 PM PST
    • 5 likes
  9. Lilly B Coolidge
    Lilly B

    Vectorman (View Comment):

    Lilly B: There are also assumptions people make about what everyone else thinks because confirming or disconfirming those assumptions would require wading into unpleasant conversations. Is this a timeless human problem or a problem that has gotten worse in recent years?

    We all make assumptions about others based on experience. A friend and his wife came from the South, and he was an officer in the Navy. You would expect both of them to be at least moderate or conservative. After 3 years of discussing business issues at the Defense Companies we worked at, I find out that they are really very liberal, and his wife showed me her Hillary hat after the election. Our friendship was more important than politics, as it should be.


    The Quote of the Day series is the easiest way to start a fun conversation on Ricochet. There are many days available on the December Signup Sheet, including 3 next week! We even include tips for finding great quotes, so choose your favorite quote and sign up today!

    I assume people I meet where I live are progressive or liberal and don’t need to discuss politics. Some of my favorite people are super progressive, but I know we agree on what’s important in everyday life. 

    • #9
    • December 4, 2019, at 12:54 PM PST
    • 4 likes
  10. Stad Thatcher

    Lilly B: The panel discussion included a lot about how difficult it is for people to speak up or challenge the uniform thinking of their peers.

    It’s not difficult at all. The problem are the consequences, such as losing one’s job, membership in professional organizations, and shunning by peers and family.

    • #10
    • December 4, 2019, at 1:37 PM PST
    • 3 likes
  11. Lilly B Coolidge
    Lilly B

    SpiritO'78 (View Comment):

    I watched a little of that Steyn show format as well. They need to figure out a way to make this climate change realism (or whatever you call it) seem more interesting. Those interviews are so boring I can’t imaging people not versed in the science would want to stick with it. I love Mark but his show is too long and he has a tendency to drone on.

    I find that people who are used to doing radio do drone on. Also, statisticians and meteorologists are not likely to be born entertainers. But I multitask when watching or listening to long-form panel discussions, so I usually find some nugget interesting. You’re right that the emotionalism of climate change hysteria is more interesting than an esoteric discussion of data manipulation.

    • #11
    • December 4, 2019, at 1:39 PM PST
    • 1 like
  12. Arahant Member

    Lilly B (View Comment):
    You’re so quick on the draw that you quoted my post before my (almost immediate) correction!

    Gotta be fast around here. 😉

    • #12
    • December 4, 2019, at 2:14 PM PST
    • 3 likes
  13. The Reticulator Member

    Arahant (View Comment):

    Lilly B (View Comment):
    You’re so quick on the draw that you quoted my post before my (almost immediate) correction!

    Gotta be fast around here. 😉

    Pretty sure Arahant has one of those fast gaming computers for Ricochet, with lots of cores and side processors to do everything at once.

    • #13
    • December 4, 2019, at 2:22 PM PST
    • 4 likes
  14. CarolJoy, Above Top Secret Coolidge

    SpiritO'78 (View Comment):

    I watched a little of that Steyn show format as well. They need to figure out a way to make this climate change realism (or whatever you call it) seem more interesting. Those interviews are so boring I can’t imaging people not versed in the science would want to stick with it. I love Mark but his show is too long and he has a tendency to drone on.

    Those are good points. With so many people excited about doing podcasts, including some very dynamic teenagers, the public has a large variety of people to choose from.

    So the internet makes it hard to watch people who complain, and who drone. Steyn doesn’t complain, as others sometimes do. But he does drone.

    The complaining is worse. I hate having someone tell me to watch such and such a podcast and then during the opening six minutes, the presenter whines about how they had to do another podcast.

    No they didn’t. They could simply have their podcast announce “Presenter so and so is on vacation today.” And then play 15 minutes of music of their choice.

    • #14
    • December 4, 2019, at 3:15 PM PST
    • 2 likes
  15. CarolJoy, Above Top Secret Coolidge

    I am sorry to learn of your need to exit from the company that I assume you once enjoyed being so much part of.

    Your situation is not very different from that of countless other individuals. Some had, like you, had the misfortune to think outside the newly established “science” of Global Climate Change. Other individuals thought outside the box with regards to the the Genetically Modified seeds, crops and foods industry.

    The pesticide and Big pharma industries are also tending toward being science-y rather than having actual science as the guiding point. Those individuals who are employed by the industries and who are more curious and more meticulous than the industries’ other employees often are forced out.

    During the time of the BP Oil Spill, in the Gulf of Mexico, BP wanted to use a product its scientists had developed that would “safely clean up the impact of the oil spill.” EPA scientists were charged with putting fish inside tanks and administering the product, called Corexit, at suitable proportions to determine if the product would impact marine life.

    The scientists ran their studies for six weeks, and it was concluded that the marine life was still rather healthy and not affected. The project was then announced as being concluded.

    However one scientist held on to his fish and kept them an additional four weeks. At the end of his study, all the fish had died. Corexit was clearly not as safe as the first study indicated. One or two M$Media outlets ran his story. I have no idea if he was able to hang on to his position at the EPA or not.

    I once conceived a doctrine that I entitled “The Sterritt Doctrine of Normalcy.” It stated that once a phenomena was so deeply entrenched inside a society that its effects were normal, then there could be little objection to the phenomena.

    So for instance, in some mythical land, if only 20% of the countryside was infused with pesticides, it would be easy to realize the consequences of those pesticides. But once 82 to 99% of a nation’s countryside was treated with pesticides, for a long enough period of time, then how could anyone measure whether a population’s health was affected by those items or not?

    Of course, theoretically speaking, a greenhouse or protected bit of land could be utilized to be the test subject to then be blasted with pesticides, and then test subjects like butterflies or frogs could be examined to note if their health had suffered, or if there were birth defects. Except this type of thing is not usually undertaken unless there is a reason to do it, and if everyone agrees that there are no abnormalities abounding in the human population due to pesticides, then why would it be done?

    • #15
    • December 4, 2019, at 4:07 PM PST
    • 3 likes
  16. Stad Thatcher

    The Reticulator (View Comment):
    Pretty sure Arahant has one of those fast gaming computers for Ricochet, with lots of cores and side processors to do everything at once.

    I sure as heck have one . . .

    • #16
    • December 5, 2019, at 7:23 AM PST
    • 1 like
  17. Stad Thatcher

    CarolJoy, Above Top Secret (View Comment):
    During the time of the BP Oil Spill, in the Gulf of Mexico

    Despair, Inc. used to sell a tee shirt that said:

    BP: We bring oil to your shores.

    Shoulda bought one while I had the chance . . .

    • #17
    • December 5, 2019, at 7:24 AM PST
    • 2 likes
  18. Lilly B Coolidge
    Lilly B

    CarolJoy, Above Top Secret (View Comment)During the time of the BP Oil Spill, in the Gulf of Mexico, BP wanted to use a product its scientists had developed that would “safely clean up the impact of the oil spill.” EPA scientists were charged with putting fish inside tanks and administering the product, called Corexit, at suitable proportions to determine if the product would impact marine life.

    I remember the Corexit issue, but haven’t followed it and wonder what there impacts currently stand. 

    I once conceived a doctrine that I entitled “The Sterritt Doctrine of Normalcy.” It stated that once a phenomena was so deeply entrenched inside a society that its effects were normal, then there could be little objection to the phenomena.

    So for instance, in some mythical land, if only 20% of the countryside was infused with pesticides, it would be easy to realize the consequences of those pesticides. But once 82 to 99% of a nation’s countryside was treated with pesticides, for a long enough period of time, then how could anyone measure whether a population’s health was affected by those items or not?

    Of course, theoretically speaking, a greenhouse or protected bit of land could be utilized to be the test subject to then be blasted with pesticides, and then test subjects like butterflies or frogs could be examined to note if their health had suffered, or if there were birth defects. Except this type of thing is not usually undertaken unless there is a reason to do it, and if everyone agrees that there are no abnormalities abounding in the human population due to pesticides, then why would it be done?

    This is an interesting issue, especially when people are exposed to chemicals from so many differences sources. There are certainly studies of pesticide impacts, but using rodent exposures as proxies. One of things that keeps coming up is the finding that testosterone levels in human males are deceasing. There are so many variables that it’s hard to point to one culprit. 

    • #18
    • December 5, 2019, at 7:37 AM PST
    • 1 like