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Groupthink. The Destruction of intellegence. What is Groupthink.

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Groupthink

The Destruction of intellegence


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What is Groupthink

  • Irvin Janus defines it 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

  • Origins

    • This term was coined by William H. Whyte in Fortune

    • Group think was is remincient of doublethink and duckspeak of George Orwell’s 1984


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Symptoms of Groupthink

  • Conditions

    • High Stress

    • Little hope for a better alternative

    • High Group Cohesiveness

    • Persuasive strength of the group leader


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Symptoms of Groupthink Cont'

  • Eight indicative Symptoms

    • Illusion of invariability

    • Unquestioned believe in groups’ morality

    • Collective Rationalization of decisions

    • Shared stereotypes of out-group, especially opponents

    • Self-censorship

    • Illusion of unanimity

    • Direct pressure for dissenters to conform

    • Self-appointed mind-guards, prevent neg. info.


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Symptoms of Groupthink Cont'

  • Seven Symptoms of Affects

    • Incomplete survey of Alternatives

    • Incomplete survey of Objectives

    • Failure to examine risks of preferred choices

    • Failure to reevaluate rejected alternatives

    • Poor information search

    • Selective Bias

    • Failure to work out contingency plans


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Prevention

  • Dissolve decision power

  • Appoint someone to disagree or Dissent Papers

  • Anonymity of suggestions

    • Preserves social capital

  • Have an inspector or outside role which individuals can appeal to

  • Consensus Decision Making

    • Group works in a less competitive situation to agree on terms


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Son Tay Raid

  • US special ops raid of a North Vietnamese POW camp

  • Bright leadership

    • Brigadier General Leyor Simons and Colonel Arthur D. Bull Simons

  • Perfect execution / Stupid mistake


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Son Tay Raid

  • Illusion of invulnerability

    • “Everything is going to work out all right because we are a special group.” - ““95 to 97 percent assurance of success”

    • They placed an exact estimate of assured success without thinking of their alternate outcomes

  • Inherent mortality of the group

    • We’re saving POWs how can it be bad

    • “How could anyone not approve this?” (President Nixon)


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Son Tay Raid

  • Collective rationalization

    • General Blackburn, General Bennett and Admiral Moore meet to decide if it is a go

    • Blackburn was the sponsor and felt the mission was the only option, but had fears that Bennett or Moore would feel different

      • Despite recent intelligence they felt the same.


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Son Tay Raid

  • Out-group stereotyping

    • Planners lamented the lack of HUMINT and over reliance on technical means

    • Yet they discarded all HUMINT that did not support a “GO” decision

      • Lucky Break assulting a secondary school

  • Self-censorship

    • Admiral Train admitted 12 hours before the raid they had almost indisputable evidence the campe was empty

      • A Four Star Flag Officer remained silent to be a team player


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Son Tay Raid

  • Illusion of unanimity

    • By remain silent the group interpreted it as agreement

    • If the fall out was bigger, like Watergate, there would have been more dissenters afterward

  • Direct pressure on dissenters

    • After being told the camp was empty by DIA Intelligence agents General Blackburn scolded them “How the hell can you make heads or tails out of the data

      • Shortly after they thought that the prisoners were moved back