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  1. In 1972 social psychologist Irving Janis coined the term "groupthink" to describe a psychological phenomenon in which a person accepts irrational decisions in the name of group loyalty. Put another way, some collectives make bad choices when their members value group harmony over expressing unpopular positions. This is particularly the case when the most vocal elements are also the least intelligent. While the basic idea sounds plausible, I'm troubled by its usage. Janis used it to attack major military decisions, such as the Bay of Pigs invasion and not protecting Pearl Harbor in WW2, which he considered monumentally stupid and clear examples of "groupthink" at work. It seems like the word "groupthink" is typically used to disrupt or stop consideration of other explanations for such bad decision-making. In fact the label "groupthink" is applied based on an assessment of the final outcome and not on the persuasive arguments and choices made by those originally involved in the decision. And if someone begins talking about those arguments and choices, he is accused of wasting his time on "groupthinkers." It smells like an anti-concept to me. There is also this belief that engaging in debate with "groupthinkers" is not productive. But this assumes that all of the members in the opposing group are happy with their group. I submit that the most intelligent ones are probably not very happy if they have to submit to the dumb ones. And it might be worth trying to find and recruit them.
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