Did you ever notice the strong urge to conform when in a group?
When you’re in a group you rationalize other people’s ideas, don’t offer alternatives and supress you doubts to sustain the harmony withing the group. This all can lead to a really bad decisions.
Irving Janis discovered this phenomenon when reasearching the Bay of Pigs Invasion, where president Kennedy tried to overthrow Fidel Castro the president of Cuba with 1400 paramilitaries and failed miserably. Before the invasion certain people had objections to the plan, but they were all fully ignored by the Kennedy team.
All these smart people from the Kennedy White House and they were still fooled by Groupthink to plan something that nearly led to nuclear apocalypse.
Another example is Pearl Harbor. The United States had intercepted Japanese messages and discovered that Japan was arming itself for an offensive attack somewhere in the Pacific. Washington then warned officers at Pearl Harbor, but his warnings were not taken seriously.
The Navy and Army in Pearl Harbor also exchanged rationalizations about why an attack was unlikely. Some of them included:
“The Japanese would never dare attempt a full-scale surprise assault against Hawaii because they would realize that it would precipitate an all-out war, which the United States would surely win.”
“The Pacific Fleet concentrated at Pearl Harbor was a major deterrent against air or naval attack.”
“No warships anchored in the shallow water of Pearl Harbor could ever be sunk by torpedo bombs launched from enemy aircraft.”
Prevention measure can be spliting the group into pairs and discussing the issue togerther once in a while, and allowing outsiders to present their opinions throughout the process. And then take some time off and return to the problem later when your mind is not clouded with emotions.
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