The recent ruling of the Supreme Court on gay marriage has divided America right down the middle, more than even the debate of gun rights. It is bad enough that the Nine Kings can decide what is best for Americans, but far more dangerous is the widespread idea that the state can define marriage.
The left claims to desire the separation of church and state, but will not ask why the state must define marriage as long as it gives their vaunted government an excuse to persecute Christians. With leftist philosophies biased toward the interest of the group by its very nature, objective thinking has no room when the ends justify the means.
Many on the right are angry that marriage is not defined by the state as being between a guy and a girl, and desire state protection of religious traditions. Not all of them, as the right is quite divided between interpretations of the role of the state (that is between various types of conservatives and libertarians), but enough that they would rather fight each other, even as progressives move toward their endgame.
Few have questioned why the state should even define marriage. Even fewer see that it is forbidden. The 1st Amendment not only protects the freedom to practice religion, it also forbids the state from establishing it as a national law or entity. As long as most people think the state has the right to define who can marry who, the endgame will be a future where religion and sex are as forbidden as firearms and wealth.
Zombie fans will know this one, but the 10th Man concept from Max Brooks's World War Z -- where a tenth man must disagree with the other nine -- is does have a basis in truth. Groupthink can be destructiv
Reasons for Groupthink
Adolf Hitler and his inner circle seduced an entire nation with promises of racial purity and living space.
Lack of Objective Leadership
A leader who does not think objectively will imbue their personal beliefs on a group, either by accident or deliberately. The result is that most or all members will all think the same way.
When a group is heavily isolated -- either through lack of exposure or deliberate concealment -- its members will be shielded from other ideas, leading to one way of thinking.
High Threat Environments
An imminent threat can create this condition if a leader does not counter it. Goes hand in hand with lack of objective leadership. One extreme can create another in this situation.
Excessive Cohesion & Homogeneity
Cohesion is essential, but like success, too much of it can have a cost. If a group is extremely cohesive or homogenous, its members will have a strong bias toward one set of ideas and be resistant to alternatives.
Effects of Groupthink
Communism, as practiced by dictatorships of the proletariat, is a prime example of all of groupthink's effects.
Lack of Innovation
The definition of insanity is
doing the same thing over again and expecting a different result.
Despite Einstein's famous words, many governments, corporations and
movements insist on doing just that. The bigger the group, the less
adaptable it will be to changing conditions.
Complacency happens when a group has
runaway success, leading to a sense of infallibility and ignorance among
the group's members of the group's flaws.
Suppression of Individuality
The group's importance outweighs the
importance of its members. In extreme form, this leads to sacrifices for
the common good, but in mild form, can lead to exclusion of its
members, weakening it both quantitatively and qualitatively.
Suppression of Dissent & Close Mindedness
group that suppresses dissent will become close minded. Silence is
taken as agreement, and dissenting opinions are taken as a threat. In
extreme form, a group will believe its way of thinking applies to
everyone and may attempt to force their views onto others. Purges of the upper ranks of a group can also occur.
Reasons People Will Not Dissent
Every atrocity is the result of following orders, a condition that arises from groupthink in its extreme form.
Almost nobody wants the
responsibility for being wrong, so they will not take the chance. In mild form, the dissenting member will be excluded and cut off from support they might need. In extreme form, dissenters will be purged violently.
People will do some things because
everyone else does it. When aware of the wrongness of something, members feel they
have strength in numbers. Responsibility is also easier to bear when it
is shared (misery loves company).
Personal Gain & Self Preservation
There are also those who want to be
on the "winning team." These members may start out in
disagreement with the majority, but the more of the group's narrative
they are exposed to, the more they might start believing it. Others may join the "enemy of my enemy," also end up believing repeated lies, or at least idealizing their situation. Others still feel that they are a cog in a far bigger machine, and see the impossibility of challenging the official argument, even if they might actually have a good chance at winning. If aware of
the wrongness of their actions, they will force themselves to believe
the official narrative, to suppress their own guilt.
Screenshot from the movie version of World War Z, from Paramount.
As silence is often taken as agreement, encourage constructive criticism. This includes the questioning of orders.
The truth is often hard to accept, especially when it conflicts with a deeply held philosophy or the results of a group's actions were, or will be ugly. Most will deny, or rationalize. Members need to accept the truth, no matter how terrible it is.
Appoint a Devil's Advocate
At least one person must be tasked with the duty to disagree with the majority opinion, no matter what. This includes arguing in favor of an opposing point of view. The devil's advocate should be a different person each time.