the Groupthink Game
Is the Bush administration suffering from a condition which
researcher Irving Janis has pegged "groupthink?"
Janis' research was published in 1982 and was based on his
study of the Watergate cover-up, the Bay of Pigs invasion,
the Japanese raid on Pearl Harbor, and the mid 60s escalation
of the Vietnam War. Janis considered groupthink to be an organizational
pathology a group mental illness that all too often
leads to disastrous outcomes.
Janis defined groupthink as "a mode of thinking that people
engage in when they are deeply involved in a cohesive in-group,
when the members' strivings for unanimity override their motivation
to realistically appraise alternative courses of action."
The goal of the group's decision-making then becomes unanimity
rather than the best solution.
Janis, with the help of other researchers in the decision
sciences, identified these eight classic symptoms of groupthink:
1. Feelings of invulnerability and excessive optimism.
2. Efforts to rationalize a course of action in order to
prevent reconsideration of basic assumptions.
3. An unwavering belief in their own morality, which paradoxically
allows them to ignore the ethical and moral consequences of
4. A strong tendency to equate dissent with disloyalty.
5. Self-censorship of any doubts or counterarguments in the
name of being a "team player."
6. An illusion of unanimity caused by the false assumption
that silence means consent.
7. The emergence of "mind-guards" members
who protect the group from any adverse information that might
shatter their illusions.
8. A strong tendency to view enemy leaders as evil.
Unfortunately for our country and much of the rest of the
planet, these symptoms seem to near perfectly describe the
attitude and actions of the Bush administration to date.
Just for kicks, memorize these eight classic symptoms of
groupthink and then play this little game, the Groupthink
Game. When Bush tells us the umpteenth time about the
"evil of the evildoers," shout back "Symptom
8!" When he says, "You're either with us or with
the terrorists," yell back "Symptom 4!" When
you hear endless talk about how much we value life, all the
while bombing hospitals and old-folk homes, yell at the top
of your lungs, "Symptom 3!" I could go on for pages,
but you get the idea.
My friends, we're in deep shit here. Add the group mental
illness of groupthink to the self-congratulatory hubris and
lack of wisdom and curiosity of the current pResident, and
you have a recipe for disaster on a biblical scale.
By the way, there is no known cure for groupthink.