I was pondering the application of what has been termed “groupthink” to various disastrous events in history—the Bay of Pigs, the Iraq War, the Titanic, the Edsel—and by extrapolating I think I see one real danger for the Republican Party … one which is actually easy to rectify. I’m speaking of Grover Norquist’s Pledge which all Republicans have taken insisting that, under no circumstances, will they raise taxes on the Federal and even on the State level.

This pledge is a fine example of groupthink and it is leading to a disaster.

First, anyone taking a pledge to an individual who is totally outside of the government is clearly accepting a treasonous position. Our elected government is pledged to the support of the people and the Constitution of the United States. If, as it certainly appears, a government representative takes a pledge that overrules his governmental responsibilities, that representative is failing to uphold the Constitution and is by definition showing loyalty to someone outside of the government and therefore is committing what is defined as a disloyal, treasonous act.

When does “We the people” mean Grover Norquist?

Continue reading “Groupthink”

The Just-World Fallacy

With the recent openness from Mitt Romney discussing the 47% of US citizens who do not pay taxes, I decided it might be a good time to review the Just-World Fallacy. I think it is important to an understanding of what Romney and the Republicans believe.

According to David McRaney in You Are Not So Smart, the fallacy is abstracted like this:

The Misconception:  People who are losing at the game of life must have done something to deserve it.

The Truth:  The beneficiaries of good fortune often do nothing to earn it, and bad people often get away with their actions without consequences.

Continue reading “The Just-World Fallacy”

You Are Not So Smart

I have  mentioned before that Skeptic Magazine is part of my regular reading (See earlier post). Skeptic also provides a regular online version with automatic mailings. Recently I was poking around the Skeptic site and discovered that Skeptic supports a series of podcasts on topics that interest thinking people—Skepticality. I believe there are almost 200 podcasts available.

Listening to a recent podcast interview with David McRaney, the author of the weblog on WordPress called You Are Not So Smart, speaking about all the ways we lie to ourselves. One statement from McRaney struck me:  if you’re looking for patterns in the world, you are not so smart. Then I learned that McRaney has collected many of the subjects from his weblog and published a book called (naturally) You Are Not So Smart. I was so fascinated by the discussion that I got online and downloaded the book to my iPad (from iBooks, of course). I have only started reading and I recommend everyone get a copy. McRaney writes easily and makes things obvious. He uses many examples that help understanding the subjects but doesn’t spend so much time in his explanation that the reader gets lost or confused. Logic can be fun!

I have already shared some of the knowledge I received from the book and the list of chapters might pique your interest further. First the specifics:

Your Are Not So Smart:  Why You Have Too Many Friends on Facebook, Why Your Memory Is Mostly Fiction, and 48 Other Ways You’re Deluding Yourself by David McRaney (Dutton, 2011).

Table of Contents

  1. Priming
  2. Confabulation
  3. Confirmation Bias
  4. Hindsight Bias
  5. The Texas Sharpshooter Fallacy
  6. Procrastination
  7. Normalcy Bias
  8. Introspection
  9. The Availability Heuristic
  10. The Bystander Effect
  11. The Dunning-Kruger Effect
  12. Apophenia
  13. Brand Loyalty
  14. The Argument from Authority
  15. The Argument from Ignorance
  16. The Straw Man Fallacy
  17. The Ad Hominem Fallacy
  18. The Just-World Fallacy
  19. The Public Goods Game
  20. The Ultimatum Game
  21. Subjective Validation
  22. Cult Indoctrination
  23. Groupthink
  24. Supernormal Releasers
  25. The Affect Heuristic
  26. Dunbar’s Number
  27. Selling out
  28. Self-Serving Bias
  29. The Spotlight Effect
  30. The Third Person Effect
  31. Catharsis
  32. The Misinformation Effect
  33. Conformity
  34. Extinction Burst
  35. Social Loafing
  36. The Illusion of Transparency
  37. Learned Helplessness
  38. Embodied Cognition
  39. The Anchoring Effect
  40. Attention
  41. Self-Handicapping
  42. Self-Fulfilling Prophecies
  43. The Moment
  44. Consistency Bias
  45. The Representativeness Heuristic
  46. Expectation
  47. The Illusion of Control
  48. The Fundamental Attribution Error

There’s also a great bibliography if you want to go even deeper into some of these subjects.