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Dr. Goodword
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Postby Dr. Goodword » Tue Jan 29, 2013 9:45 pm

• groupthink •

Pronunciation: grup-thingk • Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun, mass (no plural)

Meaning: Yale psychologist Irving Janis originally defined groupthink as "a mode of thinking that people engage in when they are deeply involved in a cohesive in-group, when . . . strivings for unanimity override . . . motivation to realistically appraise alternative courses of action." In other words, the surrender of independent thought to group dynamics.

Notes: Groupthink is not evil; it is an attempt by members of a prestigious group to contribute to consensus, as well as to protect themselves by siding with the majority. However, it often leads to bad decisions. It is generally accepted as a major factor in President Roosevelt's ignoring evidence of the impending attack on Pearl Harbor, and in President Kennedy's miscalculations in invading Cuba. More recently it has been suggested that it was a factor in the miscalculation of weapons of mass destruction and Al Qaeda activity in Iraq.

In Play: Since the noun think means "one instance of thinking", groupthink, a mass noun, is not the best of terms. It was selected, no doubt, for its scary association with Orwell's doublethink and goodthink in the novel 1984, a novel much better known before that date. The sentiment is one long associated with the thought conformity of committees: "A camel is a horse designed by the groupthink of a committee."

Word History: The word think comes from Old English thencan (þencan) which originally meant "to seem", a sense that was preserved until Shakespeare's time in the word methinks "it seems to me". Its origin is Proto-Indo-European tong-/teng, which rarely appears outside the Germanic languages. We find it only in Albanian tangë "resentment" and Tocharian, a dead language, tunk "love". The origin of methinks can be seen in such expressions as "Him thought that in his depth of sleepe he saw A Souldier arm'd" (Thomas Heywood 1635). In other words, "It seemed to him that . . . ". From this example it is easy to see how the sense "it seems to me" could slip into "I think".
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Philip Hudson
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Postby Philip Hudson » Wed Jan 30, 2013 12:22 am

Could our government use a little groupthink to pull us out of this morass of stymiedity (If stymiedity isn't a word, it should be.)? Nah!
It is dark at night, but the Sun will come up and then we can see.

Perry Lassiter
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Postby Perry Lassiter » Wed Jan 30, 2013 2:07 pm

One groupthink might work, but currently Washington has two groupthinks, which equals train wreck.

A good current example is the bipartisan group of Senators proposing immigration reform. That's healthy groupthink. Can the House do likewise? I suspect another imminent trainwreck.

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Postby LukeJavan8 » Wed Jan 30, 2013 3:02 pm

I think of politicians who retire to join "think tanks",
and my mind immediately goes to "cess pool".
-----please, draw me a sheep-----

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Postby MTC » Wed Jan 30, 2013 4:59 pm

groupsink: the quaqmire into which groups sink after engaging in groupthink, e.g., Vietnam, Iraq, etc.

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