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8 Reasons To Keep An Open Mind And Think For Yourself

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“When all think alike, no one thinks very much.” – Walter Lippmann, 2 times Pulitzer Prize winning American journalist

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Free-thinkers will all struggle at times to comprehend why mainstream viewpoints can remain unquestioned by those around them. Why people will aggressively push the dominant viewpoint even when it’s outdated, unhelpful, or even blatantly contradicted by evidence. Why these viewpoints leave no room for others to hold differing ones, and complete conformity is often the end goal, even though free-thinkers advocate individual freedom and choice.

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How can free-thinkers comprehend the static viewpoints many hold about the important issues that affect our lives? Issues that free-thinkers see as demanding continuous, rigorous debate and evaluation, and an openness to adaptation and change. Issues regarding lifestyles, food, the environment, animal welfare, nutrition, health, war, peace, human diversity, all manner of social systems, parenting, governments, politics, education, science, religion and spirituality.

Groupthink

I have found one of the most powerful influences in life is social system regulation and stability. When one person disagrees with us we can shrug it off, but when several people disagree with us the effect is very powerful, our ability to reality-test is being compromised. For asking as little as an open question or sharing an alternative viewpoint, others may automatically experience our actions as offensive, and we can be ostracised to the out-group of our society.

In 1972 social psychologist Irving Janis coined “groupthink,” a term that describes this phenomenon. The Psychologists for Social Responsibility summarise groupthink thusly:

“…[Groupthink] occurs when a group makes faulty decisions because group pressures lead to a deterioration of ‘mental efficiency, reality testing, and moral judgment.’ (Janis, 1972, p.9) Groups affected by groupthink ignore alternatives and tend to take irrational actions that dehumanize other groups.

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When pressures for unanimity seem overwhelming, members are less motivated to realistically appraise the alternative courses of action available to them. These group pressures lead to carelessness and irrational thinking since groups experiencing groupthink fail to consider all alternatives and seek to maintain unanimity. Decisions shaped by groupthink have low probability of achieving successful outcomes.”

8 Symptoms of Groupthink

(Janis, 1982, adapted from The Psychologists for Social Responsibility)

  1. Illusion of invulnerability – Creates excessive optimism that encourages taking extreme risks. Ignoring group and individual member vulnerabilities leads to incomplete and skewed risk assessments.
  2. Collective rationalization – Members discount warnings and do not reconsider their assumptions. Everything can be, and is explained away.
  3. Belief in inherent morality – Members believe in the rightness of their cause and therefore ignore the ethical or moral consequences of their decisions.
  4. Stereotyped views of out-groups – Negative views of “enemy” make effective responses to conflict seem unnecessary. Ad hominem attacks are a sign of this.
  5. Direct pressure on dissenters – Members are under pressure not to express arguments against any of the group’s views. Alternative viewpoints are automatically experienced as offensive and controversial.
  6. Self-censorship – Doubts and deviations from the perceived group consensus are not expressed.
  7. Illusion of unanimity – The majority view and judgments are assumed to be unanimous. Silence is taken as consensus.
  8. Self-appointed “mindguards” – Members protect the group and the leader from information that is problematic or contradictory to the group’s cohesiveness, view, and/or decisions. Organizations, astroturfers, and propogandists perform these roles.

Why Groupthink Has Gone Global

I believe numerous factors have contributed to the current dominance of groupthink. We live in increasingly competitive societies. Admitting to confusion or error exposes our vulnerability, and being vulnerable when we are surrounded by others seeking to one-up us in the hierarchy is often dangerous. We learn to fear our vulnerability and do whatever it takes to avoid it,  including seeking the safety of the group by complying with their dominant viewpoints, thereby avoiding the accountability of making errors.

We have social systems (parenting, education, work, law) which teach us that obedience, conformity, and fear of authority are valued over advanced ethical and moral reasoning, over free, critical, and creative thought. We are increasingly a global collective pulled from such differing lives, perhaps coaxing us into premature aggreeableness on many issues, just to feel some sense of connection, belonging, and safety. Finally, all manner of organizations and individuals have found their interests can be well served by fostering and harnessing the mechanisms of groupthink.

Overcoming Groupthink

So how can free thinkers exist in an age of global groupthink? The biggest lesson I am learning is to not fall victim to groupthink ourselves. All viewpoints can create groupthink if information sources and groups are too insular. To be comfortable evaluating the full spread of information requires that we are in touch with our human capacity for vulnerability.

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Vulnerability allows us to be accepting of the fact that trial and error and continuous revision and update are part of the process of authentic learning and quality decision-making. It’s knowing that we may be wrong and confused many times as we work it through, and that’s okay. Vulnerability allows us to harness the confusion conflicting information may cause in us to drive further learning, to go there, rather than being consumed by frustration, fear, and shame.

On communicating alternative viewpoints when I can feel I am being pressured into self-censorship by groupthink, I am finding it best not to use groupthink tactics myself. I try to present information as neutrally as possible, to source quality (groupthink-free) information, and to let arguments stand on their own merits rather than on manipulative, emotionally charged rhetoric. Overall, I try to be respectful of the vulnerability of other humans and their right to draw their own conclusions. In my own experience, fostering a sense of comfortability with vulnerability acts as a strong antidote to groupthink.


What are your thoughts about a concept like groupthink in the modern age? Are there other theories that explain this phenomenon well? Are there any methods that you have found useful to remain an active free-thinker and foster free-thought in your social group? I’d love to hear your views. Please comment below.


 

References
Janis, Irving L. (1972). Victims of Groupthink. New York: Houghton Mifflin.
Janis, Irving L. (1982). Groupthink: Psychological Studies of Policy Decisions and Fiascoes. Second Edition. New York: Houghton Mifflin.

If interested you can read more about Irving Janis and groupthink theory here. http://www.psysr.org/about/pubs_resources/groupthink%20overview.htm

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Attention Readers: We’ve Moved Our Journalism To The Pulse

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A large portion of our journalism that you’re used to seeing on our Collective Evolution platform has now moved over to The Pulse. We will be publishing most of our news articles there, while Collective Evolution focuses more on personal development.

You can follow The Pulse on Telegram, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.  

We’ve done this for a number of reasons, mainly due to the struggles we’ve had with regards to extreme censorship at Collective Evolution. We hope you join us over at The Pulse in our quest to keep doing what we do!

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Abductions & Car Vandalism – Startling Australian UFO Report Unclassified

Gautam Peddada

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An uncovered Australian report performed by their Department of Defence. “Scientific Intelligence — General — Unidentified Flying Objects” is trending again. Those who have done extensive research on UFOs will find the Australian version of disclosure to be far more intellectually honest than the American version. Albeit it was conducted decades ago.

According to ex-US intelligence official Luis Elizondo, the Defense Department’s Inspector General is presently conducting three reviews. The inquiries vary from the Department of Defense’s handling of UFO claims to Elizondo’s alleged whistleblower retribution. The open IG cases are crucial to Australia’s report because they establish beyond a shadow of a doubt that the US Department of Defense is being dishonest and shady when it comes to the UFO subject. For decades, Australia has been a loyal friend of the United States. Within Australia’s boundaries, they share a military installation (Pine Gap). When a close defense ally’s intelligence agencies determined that the US was not being intellectually honest in its approach, perhaps it is reasonable to conclude that there is more to the tale than the 144 incidents studied since 2004 by the UAPTF.

The CIA became alarmed at the overloading of military communications during the mass sightings of 1952 and considered the possibility that the USSR may take advantage of such a situation.

Australian UFO study.

According to the summary, OSI, acting through the Robertson-Panel, encouraged the USAF to use Project Blue Book to publicly “debunk” UFOs. In a tragic twist of fate, when Australian authorities sought explanations from the US Air Force, the allegation was debunked. The authors of the study were depicted as conspiratorial and even crazy by the US Air Force. Ross Coulthart reported this, and it may be heard in a recent Project Unity interview. Courthart is an award-winning investigative journalist who is drawn to forbidden subjects. He also stated on the same podcast that a senior US Navy official identified as Nat Kobitz told him that the US had been in the midst of reverse-engineering numerous non-human craft. According to his obituary, Mr. Kobitz was a former Director of Research and Development at Naval Sea Systems Command.

Continue reading the entire article at The Pulse. 

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PGA Tour To End COVID Testing For Both Vaccinated & Non-Vaccinated Players

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    The PGA Tour has announced that it will stop testing players every week, regardless of whether they have been vaccinated or not.

  • Reflect On:

    Are PCR tests appropriate to identify infectious people? Should people who are healthy and not sick be tested at all, anywhere?

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Take a moment and breathe. Place your hand over your chest area, near your heart. Breathe slowly into the area for about a minute, focusing on a sense of ease entering your mind and body. Click here to learn why we suggest this.

The picture you see above is of John Rahm, a professional golfer on the PGA tour being carted off the golf course after tournament officials told him he had COVID. He was healthy and had no symptoms, yet was forced to withdraw from the tournament. He was told in front of the camera’s, and a big scene was made out of the event. You would think something like that, especially when you are a big time sports figure, would be done behind closed doors with some privacy.

Earlier on in June a spokesperson for the PGA Tour said that more than 50 percent of players on the PGA tour have been vaccinated. Although it seems that the majority of players on the tour will be fully vaccinated judging by this statement, it does leave a fairly large minority who won’t be, and that’s something we’re seeing across the globe as COVID vaccine hesitancy remains high for multiple reasons.

We are pleased to announce, after consultation with PGA Tour medical advisors, that due to the high rate of vaccination among all constituents on the PGA Tour, as well as other positively trending factors across the country, testing for COVID-19 will no longer be required as a condition of competition beginning with the 3M Open. – PGA tour Senior VP Tyler Dennis

The tour recently announced that the testing of players every week will stop starting in July for both the vaccinated and the unvaccinated. This was an unexpected announcement given the fact that, at least it seems in some countries, vaccinated individuals will enjoy previous rights and freedoms that everyone did before the pandemic. Travelling without need to quarantine and possibly in the future not having to be tested could be a few of those privileges. Others may include attending concerts, sporting events, or perhaps even keeping their job depending on whether or not their employer deems it to be mandatory, if that’s even legally possible. We will see what happens.

Luckily for professional golfers, regardless of their vaccination status they won’t have to worry about testing positive for COVID, especially if they’re not sick. This is the appropriate move by the PGA tour, who is represented by their players and it’s a move that the players themselves may have had a say in. It’s important because PCR tests are not designed nor are they appropriate for identifying infectious people. A number of scientists have been emphasizing this since the beginning of the pandemic. More recently, a letter to the editor published in the Journal of infection explain why more than half of al “positive” PCR tests are likely to have been people who are not infectious, otherwise known as “false positives.”

This is why the Swedish Public Health agency has a notice on their website explaining how and why polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests are not useful for determining if someone is infected with COVID or if someone can transmit it to others, and it’s better to use someone who is actually showing symptoms as a judgement call of whether or not they could be infected or free from infection.

PCR tests using a high cycle threshold are extremely sensitive. An article published in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases found that among positive PCR samples with a cycle count over 35, only 3 percent of the samples showed viral replication. This can be interpreted as, if someone tests positive via PCR when a Ct of 35 or higher is used, the probability that said person is actually infected is less than 3%, and the probability that said result is a false positive is 97 percent. This begs the question, why has Manitoba, Canada, for example, using cycle thresholds of up to 45 to identify “positive” people?

When it comes to golf, the fact that spread occurring in an outdoor setting is highly unlikely could have been a factor, but it’s also important to mention that asymptomatic spread within one’s own household is also considerably rare. It really makes you wonder what’s going on here, doesn’t it?

Dive Deeper

Click below to watch a sneak peek of our brand new course!

Our new course is called 'Overcoming Bias & Improving Critical Thinking.' This 5 week course is instructed by Dr. Madhava Setty & Joe Martino

If you have been wanting to build your self awareness, improve your.critical thinking, become more heart centered and be more aware of bias, this is the perfect course!

Click here to check out a sneak peek and learn more.

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