Groupthought for the Day



It seems wherever you look in the skeptiverse, ‘Groupthink’ has gone absolutely ape-viral! All the most skeptical skeptics have caught the Groupthink! meme, and if you’re not talking about GROUPTHINK then, frankly, you should feel intense social shame. You’ve obviously been living in a cave, and I suggest you go back there.

It’s not our job at CliScep to do your homework for you. So if you still don’t know what Groupthink™ is—hint: it’s only the hottest meme on the Intertubez right now—I’m not going to walk you through it.

I probably couldn’t if I wanted to. Some people (*cough*) just weren’t meant to grasp certain concepts.

No offense, but wouldn’t you be happier among your own kind?

Everyone: please raise your hand if all these jokes about Groupthink® are going over your head. Be honest. There’s no wrong answer.

Just one? Fair enough. All right, now would the individual with her hand up please be a dear and… [makes buggering-off motion using ambulant fingers]?

OK, we’ll just wait while our… no, that’s the entry, dear—the exit door’s the other way… wait while our friend colleague conspecific contemporary figures out the difference between PUSH and HSUP. [General hooting.]

Othered by her own hopelessly helpless cluelessness! Talk about awkward.

All right, now that we’re rid of the, shall we say [inaudible due to snickering] element , erm… good meeting, Group.

We’re adjourned. Solid work.

Oh! Don’t forget to bring those sharpened pottery shards for next time. We have a very special guest coming in who’s going to try to explain all about the etymological link between ostrakoi and climate ostriches, only to be ostracised mid-lecture in a humorously brutal fashion. It’s always our most popular session, so, as they say: be there or beware. Because no absence goes unnoticed.

All right, simmer down over there—it sounds like someone’s guessed the name of this year’s invitee—yes: it’s Dr Victim Venema [sic], OK, all right? Well done. So we’re going to need to be on our best [inaudible due to widespread hatred] ….give him a warm Group welcome.

It doesn’t work if they suspect.

Come on, disperse already. Save the venom for your homework. Remember: you’re all expected to be putting in Two Minutes Hate ter in die, with meals.

Religiously. That’s Latin for t.i.d.

Go home, people. What are you milling around here for? You do have robust identities and self-images independent of Group, don’t you?



  1. I think I’m going to have to disagree on this one.

    If you’re wondering what to do with your pottery sherd, look up Aristides the Just. I’m following his example and banning myself from the conversation.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Brad, doesn’t seem as if you’re on a recruitment drive for your latest Konsequenzen. What are your entrance requirements (apart from laughing at your “jokes”)?

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Ron,

    that cartoon is unrealistic, almost to the point of cartoonishness. In a real courtroom situation, civil or criminal, the first thing the D.A. would do is subpoena the 900-lb gorilla as an independent witness to the elephant’s presence. While no gorilla can be compelled to give testimony that might incriminate himself, unless he’s actually married to the elephant he’s required (on pain of contempt of court) to say under oath whether the elephant’s version is correct to the best of his knowledge.


  4. Brad, are you claiming that we have not evolved very much from the apes? That we must rely on testimony from a gorilla? What’s he going to do, point to symbols on cards? At least a chimp would have some fun with it. You see why we don’t take group thoughts from you Brad, since you are so obviously not a joiner! A further comment (h/t Tom Segalstad)

    Liked by 1 person

  5. An example of highly harmful groupthink within a profession, and the wider implications in a population of emergent cultural adherence to the emotive narratives which enabled both examples, are depicted in the DVD ‘The Nazis: A warning from history’.

    The first is the self-motivation of local doctors regarding the killing of disabled children. Armed with sanction from Hitler regarding only the single case of one father who had sent a written plea asking permission to euthanize his disabled baby, chief of the chancellery Philipp Bouhler instigated a pseudo-legal system requiring 3 doctors to fill in a form agreeing to the euthanizing of disabled babies. According to the DVD, the system extended and evolved (lower thresholds, increase from babies to young children, to less young children) over the years largely through the actions of the doctors themselves. There was no further involvement from Hitler, and the doctors eventually dispensed with Bouhler’s forms too. They simply decided themselves who to kill, and put ‘measles’ or some such on the death certificate, and went ahead, thousands and thousands of times. Within visionary cultural systems that dominate or override the law, schemes with radically different morality can self-establish at frightening speed. These doctors had groupthought themselves into the position that they were cleansing and improving the race, i.e they thought they were doing great net good. The system was never ordered from the top.

    The second is revealed by the astonishment of US researchers who worked through all the papers of a captured Gestapo regional HQ, decades later. They’d expected a huge staff and a population heavily suppressed from the top. What they actually found was an incredibly small staff and a population that very effectively ruled themselves through fear. Earnest letters of denouncement poured into the Gestapo HQ every day; with most of the job done for them, agents merely drove round to net up the worst ‘offenders’.

    The warning in the DVD is that these and many other terrible things are *not* exceptional in any way, and not constrained to history. They could happen again at any time from a newly emergent culture, because we are no less susceptible to emotive cultural influences than ever we were, and the terrible things happened more as bottom up from ordinary people than top down from an all-powerful leadership. Both the leadership and the grass-roots adherents emerged on the back of highly emotive narrative during a very confused and difficult time in Germany, which allowed the resultant culture to get its boost.

    Liked by 5 people

  6. I’m thinking of becoming a Groupthink groupie and going to see them play at Wembley and trying to worm my way backstage to scream my approval of such communally aligned cerebral cortexes (cortices?). I wouldn’t miss Groupthink Floyd hammering out ‘Comfortably Numbskull’ at Wembley for all the world.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Groupthink swallows university departments whole. With a lack of diverse thought, university academic staffing levels reduced to bare minima with heads of departments sometimes the only groupenthinker needed to teach entire undergraduate cohorts. Classes of several hundred not unusual, but topics also restricted to groupthinken exercises. Minor universities being examined for takeover opportunities by providers of kindergarten services (now renamed studengarten centres). Society moving towards a “gentler, more agreeable, reputable, and respectable future”. What’s to argue with?

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Brad,

    It takes a lot to get a reference in the INDEX of Dr. Mann’s “THE MADEHOUSE EFFECT, How Climate Change Denial Is Threatening Our Planet. Destroying Our Politics, and Driving Us Crazy.”

    Dr. Mann’s seminal work, which would have been written in Latin and been dog eared by the leaders of the Enlightenment, make that the Spanish Inquisition, is being updated currently.

    I hope to see your name in the Index of the next addition. Contacting a cartoonist to work with to generate a caricature of your mug for inclusion in the graphics of the next edition of the work seems like an activity you might want to schedule this month.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Here’s an example slightly less extreme than Andy West’s – so far. The French government has just outlined a sixty point plan to eliminate Islamic radicalisation. Fine, who could be against that? Except that France has already tightened their anti-terrorist laws four times in the past five years, with the result that grannies have gone to prison for the crime of sending money to their daughters who have been stupid enough to get themselves inseminated by French Daesh / ISIS fighters. No one was ever prosecuted for having a child by a Nazi war criminal, I think.

    The plan covers prisons of course, but also schools, with a special programme to counter “complotisme” or conspiracy theorising. No more speculating in history lessons that not everything your government tells you is necessarily so. Any kid complaining that today’s freezing temperatures suggest that global warming is not all it’s cracked up to be will be under suspicion. I’d go into more detail but I intend to apply for French nationality soon, and – well – France is a great country, we’re all agreed about that.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Alan,

    What’s to argue with?

    Normally I’d say: the brain, or ratiocinative faculty.

    But in these days of Global Dimming and Hemispheric Dhimmitude, anteropaleontologists project said organ will soon be reduced to a vestige of its current calorie-wasting glory, as the great human hobby of argumentation can safely be outsourced to a single subspecies, homo academicus sholkaskiyus.


  11. Beth, I Liked your New Yorker cartoon because I didn’t want to be the only person in the room who didn’t get the joke. In so doing I inadvertently individuated myself because nobody else is pretending to understand it. D’oh!


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