The Importance of Inoculating Against Groupthink

Gustave Le Bon
quoted in Source

Groupthink is a Mass Contagion Disease

One of the first scholars of “groupthink” was Irving Janis, a research psychologist at Yale and professor emeritus at UC Berkeley. Janis wrote more than a dozen books, including “Groupthink,” and “Victims of Groupthink.” It is instructive to examine a summary of his conclusions from studying the phenomenon.

… what Janis more generally showed through each of his carefully researched case studies was how this form of collective human psychology operates according to certain clearly identifiable rules. Janis several times set out lists of the ‘symptoms of groupthink’, and his lengthy study included much analysis of its other attributes. But for our present purpose, we can draw out from his work three characteristics of
groupthink that are absolutely basic and relevant to our theme. I carefully use here the phrase ‘draw out from’ because Janis himself nowhere explicitly states that these are the three basic rules of groupthink. But they are implicit in his analysis throughout the book, and form the core of his theory as to how groupthink operates.

The three rules of groupthink

Rule one is that a group of people come to share a common view or belief that in some way is not properly based on reality. They may believe they have all sorts of evidence that confirms that their opinion is right, but their belief cannot ultimately be tested in a way that confirms this beyond doubt. In essence, therefore, it is no more than a shared belief.

Rule two is that, precisely because their shared view cannot be subjected to external proof, they then feel the need to reinforce its authority by elevating it into a ‘consensus’, a word Janis himself emphasised. To those who subscribe to the ‘consensus’, the common belief seems intellectually and morally so self-evident that all right-thinking people must agree with it. The one thing they cannot afford to allow is that anyone, either within their group or outside it, should question or challenge it. Once established, the essence of the belief system must be defended at all costs.

Rule three, in some ways the most revealing of all, is a consequence of that insistence that everyone must support the ‘consensus’. The views of anyone who fails to share it become wholly unacceptable. There cannot be any possibility of dialogue with them. They must be excluded from any further discussion. At best they may just be marginalised and ignored, at worst they must be openly attacked and discredited.

Dissent cannot be tolerated.

Janis showed how consistently and fatally these rules operated in each of his examples. Those caught up in the groupthink rigorously excluded anyone putting forward evidence that raised doubts about their ‘consensus’ view. So convinced were they of the rightness of their cause that anyone failing to agree with it was aggressively shut out from the discussion. And in each case, because they refused to consider any evidence that suggested that their two-dimensional ‘consensus’ was not based on a proper appraisal of reality, it eventually led to disaster. __ Groupthink PDF

The document linked above summarizes Janis’ research in the context of the enterprise of global catastrophic climate alarmism, which exhibits a large number of the attributes of groupthink which Janis elaborated back in the 1970s.

It is No Coincidence that “Groupthink” Takes on Orwellian Overtones When Examined Closely

Every Dangerous Child should read George Orwell’s classic novel “1984.” No modern person can claim to be educated without having read that work.

Irving Janus borrowed from the tone of “1984” when he coined the term “groupthink.” Orwell coined similar descriptive terms such as “crimethink,” “doublethink,” and “newspeak.” But it was the imagined society portrayed within the novel which illustrates the concept of groupthink so clearly and graphically.

Dangerous Children Must Be Inoculated Against Conformist Groupthink As Thoroughly As Possible

In order for the child to approach his potential in various aspects of personal growth and achievement, he must be able to stand on his own with sufficient grit and personal competence so that he will not be tossed about by the winds of public opinion or peer influence.

Again, take the example of groupthink in global climate catastrophism:

We are discovering in today’s university atmosphere of antagonism against free and open expression and dialogue, that it is only the youth who already possess substantive values who are able to stand up against the ubiquitous postmodern indoctrination.

What is true for ordinary children and youth is particularly true for Dangerous Children, who are trained in a wide range of potentially lethal skills. Such children must be highly conscientious, with stable and mature systems of values which they call their own.

Without high levels of conscientiousness or solid, stable, self-made systems of values, it would be irresponsible to train the child to be Dangerous.

The Contrarian Way

Contrarianism is the characteristic of “going one’s own way,” without regard to the direction of the larger herd. And that is a signal characteristic of the Dangerous Child — although he would never broadcast such an inclination to the public. It is his broad competence which gives him the confidence to take that stance.

As we say, there are no secret handshakes, no special tattoos, no identifying rings or pendants or styles of clothing, to identify a Dangerous Child. You may be living next door to one.


Jordan Peterson’s 12 Rules: Antidote to Chaos

All children should be trained along the lines of Peterson’s 12 rules, but Dangerous Children in particular. This valuable book unlocks a treasure trove of deep learning and insight which required Peterson decades of study and struggle to uncover and elucidate. Writing the book only took a few years. Doing the painful and bloody work required to be able to write the book took decades.

The book is something to read, ponder, and read again. Parents who take the time and trouble to do so will be much better people for themselves, their partners, and their children. But it is children themselves — and especially Dangerous Children — who stand to reap the greatest harvest from internalising the dynamic storm of principles hidden behind the rules.

The following rules will appear meaningless to someone who has not read the book. But to anyone who takes the trouble to read and re-read Peterson’s book, the rules are saturated with the deepest of meanings.

Rule 1 Stand up straight with your shoulders back

Rule 2 Treat yourself like you would someone you are responsible for helping

Rule 3 Make friends with people who want the best for you

Rule 4 Compare yourself with who you were yesterday, not with who someone else is today

Rule 5 Do not let your children do anything that makes you dislike them

Rule 6 Set your house in perfect order before you criticise the world

Rule 7 Pursue what is meaningful (not what is expedient)

Rule 8 Tell the truth – or, at least, don’t lie

Rule 9 Assume that the person you are listening to might know something you don’t

Rule 10 Be precise in your speech

Rule 11 Do not bother children when they are skate-boarding

Rule 12 Pet a cat when you encounter one on the street

Part clinical psychologist, part philosopher, part popularizer of obscure gems of experience and covert iron bulwarks of reality, Peterson is only 55 years old. He is just now bursting into the global intellectual limelight.

For anyone else from his relatively humble background, such a “coming out” into the treacherous world of modern fame would be potentially devastating. But if you look carefully at all the decades of blistering mind-toil Peterson has done arriving at this point in his life, it will be easier to see the solid bedrock beneath his thinking.

Peterson has largely been in the news for his blazing, outspoken opposition to much of the far-left political agenda, which he characterises as totalitarian, intolerant and a growing threat to the primacy of the individual – which is his core value and, he asserts, the foundation of western culture. __ Guardian

If you have not watched Peterson’s interview with feminist Cathy Newman on BBC, it is worth a look. It has already received almost five and half million views on Youtube, and that number is rising quickly.

Ms. Newman tries repeatedly to put words into Peterson’s mouth, and is soundly rebuffed and corrected each time. Peterson comes across as cool under fire because he himself has fought internal battles over these issues of far greater ferocity than any firepower that a mere feminist could mount.

Children need to be prepared in advance for the hostility they will face from a radical leftist zeitgeist at all levels of society and education. Jordan Peterson’s 12 Rules is a powerful tool to aid that preparation.