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What is Groupthink?

(1) groupthink (noun) : a pattern of thought characterized by self-deception, forced manufacture of consent, and conformity to group values and ethics (Source: Merriam-Webster Dictionary) (2) Groupthink is a psychological phenomenon that can occur in groups of people. Rather than critically evaluating information, the group members begin to form uic! opinions that match the group consensus. "roupthin! seems to occur most often #hen a respected or persuasive leader is present, inspiring members to agree #ith his or her opinion. (Source:

Examples of Groupthink
$. %&R"' %()*+ ', *-. +'(*- /&%$,$% &fter 0orld 0ar $$ anthropologists discovered that an unusual religion had developed among the islanders of the +outh /acific. $t #as oriented around the concept of cargo #hich the islanders perceived as the source of the #ealth and po#er of the .uropeans and &mericans. *his religion, !no#n as the %argo %ult, held that if the proper ceremonies #ere performed shipments of riches #ould be sent from some heavenly place. $t #as all very logical to the islanders. *he islanders sa# that they #or!ed hard but #ere poor #hereas the .uropeans and &mericans did not #or! but instead #rote things do#n on paper and in due time a shipment of #onderful things #ould arrive. *he %argo %ult members built replicas of airports and airplanes out of t#igs and branches and made the sounds associated #ith airplanes to try to activate the shipment of cargo. &lthough the e1istence of the %argo %ult only became !no#n after 0orld 0ar $$ the cult had developed long before, #hen the .uropeans first arrived in the area in ships. *here #ere legends among the islanders of their distant ancestor-god having 2ourneyed to the #est and promised to someday return. *he 0est #as thought to be the land of the dead. 0hen the /ortuguese and 3utch came into the area of the +outh /acific they came from the #est and they #ere pale s!inned 2ust as the islanders #ould have e1pected people coming from the land of the dead to be. *he .uropeans of the time also did not #or! but sent messages #hich led to the arrival of #onderful things as cargoes from ships. &t some point the notion developed among the %argo %ult members that cargoes #ere being sent for them by their long dead ancestors but those cargoes #ere being intercepted by the .uropeans. *his idea #as confirmed in the strongest possible #ay for one islander during 0orld 0ar $$. -is name #as 4ateri and he had learned to read and #rite some. 'ne day he #ent into the office of military post and sa# stac!ed up bo1es labeled Batteries. 'bviously those bo1es #ere his5 $n addition to ceremonies at the replicas of airports in the 2ungle there #as another interesting type of ceremony. $slanders #ould build a hut in the forest and the cultees #ould bring money and leave it in the hut in e1pectation that it #ould gro#. +ometime replicas of briefcases #ould be used to hold the money. (nfortunately the money #ould often be stolen from these 2ungle ban!s leaving the islanders even poorer than they #ere before. *he %argo %ult had a name for the deity in heaven. -e #as called 6ohn ,romm. $t is not certain ho# this name arose but uite possibly it #as from &merican soldiers identifying themselves by their place of origin: i.e., $ am 6ohn from $ndiana or $ am 6ohn from 7inneapolis. +ome clever business began mar!eting products under the name 6ohn ,romm. ,or e1ample, soap bars #ere labeled 6ohn ,romm +oap. 0hen it #as a choice bet#een ordinary soap and "od8s soap, it #as no contest. $t #as clear #hich one #ould get you heavenly clean. 4ecause the %argo %ult diverted people from productive and re#arding activities it #as discouraged by the authorities. $n 9e# "uinea the &ustralian authorities enlisted the aid of the son of a famous #arrior to discourage the %argo %ult. -e #as effective and as a re#ard the &ustralians gave him a trip to +ydney. 0hile in +ydney this

man visited an anthropological museum. *here he sa# the sacred cult ob2ects of his people on display. 0hen the man returned to 9e# "uinea he spread the #ord that the source of the &ustralians po#er #as that they had stolen the sacred art of his people and built a temple to house it. & ne# cult developed around this idea. (Source: !argo
!u"ts o# the South $aci#ic% by &hayer Watkins' San (ose )ni*ersity -http:++,,,.s-su.e.u+#acu"ty+,atkins+cargocu"t.htm)

$$. &+%- %'9,'R7$*: .;/.R$7.9* (+')'7'9 &+%-) 4&%<"R'(93 = &$7+: *o determine #hether a ma2ority can influence a minority even #hen the situation is unambiguous. &sch uestioned the results of 7uzafer +herif (1>?@) and other researchers e1ploring #hat #ould become termed informational influence, reasoning that the participants probably conformed because the stimulus #as ambiguous. &sch aimed to find out if the effects of ma2ority influence that had previously been found in such situations are so great that they are still present #hen it is apparently obvious that the ma2ority have responded incorrectly. /R'%.3(R. (7.*-'3): &sch set up a situation in #hich A male student volunteers all sat loo!ing at a display. $n turn, they had to say out loud #hich one of the three lines &, 4, or % #as the same length as a given stimulus line ; Bsee belo#C. &ll but one of the participants #ere confederates of the e1perimenter, and on some DcriticalE trials the confederates #ere instructed unanimously to give the same #rong ans#er on 12 of the 1F trials. *he students al#ays gave their ans#ers in the same order and the one genuine participant #as the last (or the last but one) to offer hisGher opinion on each trial. *he performance of participants e1posed to such group pressure #as compared to performance in a control condition in #hich there #ere no confederates. $n all 12? genuine participants #ere tested. ,$93$9"+ (R.+()*+): 'n the 12 critical trials #here the confederates gave the same #rong ans#er, the genuine participants also gave the #rong ans#er on ?H.FI of these trials. *his should be compared against an error rate of only J.AI in the control condition - in other #ords, control group participants ans#ered correctly over >>I of the time #hen there #as no social pressure.) 2@I of the participants never gave a #rong ans#er on any of the trials. 7any of the participants #ho had given #rong responses admitted they had yielded to ma2ority influence because they didnEt #ant to stand out. $ndividuals #ho gave only correct ans#ers said either that they #ere confident in the accuracy of their o#n 2udgement or focused on doing the tas! as directed (ie: being accurate and correct). %'9%)(+$'9+: & ma2ority can influence a minority even in an unambiguous situation in #hich the correct ans#er is obvious (as #as sho#n by the almost perfect performance in the control condition). &sch sho#ed convincingly that group pressures to conform in terms of ma2ority influence are much stronger than had been thought previously. -o#ever, on about 2G? of the crucial trials, the genuine participant gave the correct ans#er, so many people managed to resist ma2ority influence. *he participants #ere perceived to be responding to #hat #ould be termed normative influence. (Source: /ntegrate. Sociopsycho"

$$$. +&R$9 "&+ &**&%<+ 4: *-. &(7 +-$9R$<:' (+(/R.7. *R(*-) R.)$"$'(+ %()* (7arch 2J, 1>>@) +everal pac!ages of deadly sarin gas are set off in the *o!yo sub#ay system !illing t#elve people and in2uring over @,JJJ. +arin gas #as invented by the 9azis and is one of the most lethal nerve gases !no#n to man. *o!yo police uic!ly learned #ho had planted the chemical #eapons and began trac!ing the terrorists do#n. *housands of chec!points #ere set up across the nation in the massive dragnet. *he gas attac! #as instituted by the &um +hinri!yo (#hich means +upreme *ruth) cult. *he +upreme *ruth had thousands of follo#ers all over 6apan #ho believed in their doomsday prophecies. 4ecause it claimed the personal assets of ne# cult members, the +upreme *ruth had #ell over a billion dollars stashed a#ay. +ho!o &sahara, a forty-year-old blind man, #as the leader of the cult. &sahara had long hair and a long beard, #ore bright robes, and

often meditated #hile sitting on satin pillo#s. -is boo!s included claims that he #as the second coming of 6esus %hrist and that he had the ability to travel through time. 6apanese authorities raided the +upreme *ruth compounds across the country, but could not find &sahara. &t one camp at the base of 7t. ,u2i, police found tons of the chemicals used to produce sarin gas. *hey also found plans to buy nuclear #eapons from the Russians. *he police eventually located -ideo 7urai, one of the cult8s other top leaders, but #hen he #as being ta!en into custody he #as stabbed to death by an assassin #ho blamed 7urai for the poison gas attac!. +hortly after, the police found a hidden basement at the 7t. ,u2i compound #here other cult leaders #ere holed up, including 7asami *suchiya, a chemist #ho admitted ma!ing the sarin gas. +till, &sahara remained at large and the +upreme *ruth made four more gas attac!s on the sub#ays, in2uring hundreds more. &nother potential deadly chemical bomb #as defused in a sub#ay restroom. *he nation8s top police officer #as shot by a mas!ed terrorist, adding to the country8s unrest. ,inally on 7ay 1H, &sahara #as found in yet another secret room of the 7t. ,u2i compound and arrested. &long #ith scores of the other +upreme *ruth leaders, &sahara #as charged #ith murder. *heir doomsday predictions had finally come true, albeit on a much smaller and more personal scale than they had envisioned. (Source:

$K. *-. L6'9.+*'09 7&++&%R.M Background 'n 9ovember 1F, 1>AF, in #hat became !no#n as the L6onesto#n 7assacre,M more than >JJ members of an &merican cult called the /eoples *emple died in a mass suicide-murder under the direction of their leader 6im 6ones (1>?1-AF). *he mass suicide-murder too! place at the so-called 6onesto#n settlement in the +outh &merican nation of "uyana. 6ones had founded #hat became the /eoples *emple in $ndiana in the 1>@Js then relocated his congregation to %alifornia in the 1>HJs. $n the 1>AJs, follo#ing negative media attention, the po#erful, controlling preacher moved #ith some 1,JJJ of his follo#ers to the "uyanese 2ungle, #here he promised they #ould establish a utopian community. 'n 9ovember 1F, 1>AF, (.+. Representative )eo Ryan, #ho had gone to 6onesto#n to investigate claims of abuse, #as murdered, along #ith four members of his delegation, by 6onesto#n gunmen. *hat same day, 6ones ordered his follo#ers to ingest poison-laced punch, #hile armed guards stood by. Origins of the Peoples Temple /rior to the terrorist attac!s of +eptember 11, 2JJ1, the tragedy at 6onesto#n mar!ed the single largest loss of (.+. civilian lives in a non-natural disaster. *he megalomaniacal man behind the tragedy, 6im 6ones, came from humble beginnings. 6ones #as born on 7ay ?1, 1>?1, in rural $ndiana. $n the early 1>@Js, he began #or!ing as a selfordained %hristian minister in small churches around $ndianapolis. $n order to raise money to start a church of his o#n, the charismatic 6ones tried various ventures, including selling live mon!eys door-to-door. 6ones opened his first /eoples *emple church in $ndianapolis in the mid-1>@Js. -is congregation #as racially integrated, something unusual at the time for a 7id#estern church. $n the mid-1>HJs, 6ones moved his small congregation to 9orthern %alifornia, settling first in Red#ood Kalley in 7endocino %ounty. $n the early 1>AJs, the ambitious preacher relocated his organization8s head uarters to +an ,rancisco and also opened a temple in )os &ngeles Jim Jones: Rise of a Cult Leader $n +an ,rancisco, 6ones became a po#erful figure. -e curried favor #ith public officials and the media, donated money to numerous charitable causes and delivered votes for various politicians at election time. /eoples *emple ran social and medical programs for the needy, including a free dining hall, drug rehabilitation and legal aid services. 6ones8 message of social e uality and racial 2ustice attracted a diverse group of follo#ers, including idealistic young people #ho #anted to do something meaningful #ith their lives.

&s 6ones8 congregation gre# (estimates of the group8s size varyN a 1>AA e1pose by 9e# 0est magazine put the number of /eoples *emple members at 2J,JJJ), negative reports began to surface about the man referred to as L,atherM by his follo#ers. ,ormer members described being forced to give up their belongings, homes and even custody of their children. *hey told of being sub2ected to beatings, and said 6ones staged fa!e Lcancer healings.M,aced #ith unflattering media attention and mounting investigations, the increasingly paranoid 6ones, #ho often #ore dar! sunglasses and traveled #ith bodyguards, invited his congregation to move #ith him to "uyana, #here he promised them they #ould build a socialist utopia. Trou le in Paradise: Prelude to Jonesto!n $n 1>AO, a small group of 6ones8 follo#ers had gone to "uyana to establish an agricultural cooperative on a tract of 2ungle in the tiny nation of "uyana. ("uyana, #hich gained its independence from "reat 4ritain in 1>HH, is the only country in +outh &merica #ith .nglish as its official language.) $n 1>AA, 6ones and more than 1,JJJ *emple members moved to "uyana. -o#ever, 6onesto#n did not turn out to be the paradise their leader had promised. *emple members #or!ed long days in the fields and #ere sub2ected to harsh punishments if they uestioned 6ones8 authority. *heir passports and medications #ere confiscated and they #ere plagued by mos uitoes and tropical diseases. &rmed guards patrolled the 2ungle compound. 7embers #ere encouraged to inform on one another and #ere forced to attend lengthy, late-night meetings. *heir letters and phone calls #ere censored. 6ones, #ho by then #as in declining mental health and addicted to drugs, had his o#n throne in the compound8s main pavilion and compared himself to Kladimir )enin and 6esus %hrist. -e #as convinced that the government, the media and others #ere out to destroy him. -e also re uired /eoples *emple members to participate in moc! suicide drills in the middle of the night. "irstrip "m ush )eo Ryan, a (.+. representative from %alifornia, heard from some of his constituents that their family members #ere people being held against their #ill at 6onesto#n and decided to go there to investigate. Ryan arrived in "uyana in 9ovember 1>AF, #ith a delegation that included ne#s reporters and photographers, along #ith concerned relatives of some of the /eoples *emple members. 'n 9ovember 1A, the congressman and reporters #ere #elcomed to the 6onesto#n compound, to their surprise, #ith a dinner and evening of entertainment. 6ones even agreed to meet #ith reporters. -o#ever, during the visit, some /eoples *emple members as!ed Ryan8s group to help them get out of 6onesto#n. 'n 9ovember 1F, Ryan and his group, #hich also included a small contingent of /eoples *emple defectors, left 6onesto#n. 0hile #aiting at a nearby 2ungle airstrip, they #ere ambushed by gunmen sent by 6im 6ones. Ryan #as !illed, along #ith a reporter and cameraman from 94%, a photographer from the +an ,rancisco .1aminer and a female /eoples *emple member #ho #as attempting to leave. #$$ %ie at Jonesto!n *he same day as the murders at the airstrip, 6ones told his follo#ers that soldiers #ould come for them and torture them. -e ordered everyone to gather in the main pavilion and commit #hat he termed a Prevolutionary act.P *he youngest members of the /eoples *emple #ere the first to die, as parents and nurses used syringes to drop a potent mi1 of cyanide, sedatives and po#dered fruit 2uice into children8s throats. (6ones had reportedly obtained a 2e#eler8s license at some earlier point, #hich enabled him to stoc!pile cyanide.) &dults then lined up to drin! the poison-laced concoction #hile armed guards surrounded the pavilion. 0hen "uyanese officials arrived at the 6onesto#n compound the ne1t day, they found it carpeted #ith hundreds of bodies. 7any people had perished #ith their arms around each other. 6im 6ones, age OA, #as found in a chair, dead from a single bullet #ound to the head, most li!ely self-inflicted. *he death toll at 6onesto#n on 9ovember 1F, 1>AF #as >J> people, a third of them children. & fe# people managed to escape into the 2ungle that day, #hile at least several dozen more /eoples *emple members, including several of 6ones8 sons, #ere in another part of "uyana at the time. (Source: