Group Think -The Herd Mentality

Group think is a danger to critical thinking. There is an old but worthwhile statement:

“When everyone thinks alike, no one thinks very much.”

It has much truth to it. Critical thinking by its very nature questions ideas, opinions, and thoughts of yourself and others. It uses internal and external reflection.

There are three reasons it can be tough to escape this mentality. They are:

1. The group think mentality is present every day from many sources. Radio, television, news papers, magazines and the Internet all reflect the current so called norm of thinking.

Too many times opinions are stated as fact by self-proclaimed experts. They cater to the most uninformed.

Unfortunately, many people don’t question what they hear, nor do they question the source of information before repeating it as gospel.

2. The problems of the world are complex. For the non-critical thinker the world is a much simpler place to live.

3. The drive for acceptance from others is a strong motivating factor. Thinking outside the group can be uncomfortable. However, it is necessary for the critical thinker.

Becoming a critical thinker takes conscious and constant diligence. A critical thinker continually asks the questions:

• Does this make sense?
• If so, why?
• If not, why not?

Here is an example:

David Crockett was best known for his adventures in the wilderness and fighting at the Alamo. He also served as a Congressman where he was known as an honest and conscientious man.

During the time of his tenure in Congress a law known as the Indian Removal Act in 1830 was being debated. This was a proposed law that would relocate the Five Civilized Tribes of Native American tribes living east of the Mississippi River to further west.

It was favored by many who would gain access to lands inhabited by these tribes. They influenced many congressmen.

David Crockett was one of the few in Congress who spoke against the Indian Removal Act. It was passed after a bitter debate in Congress by a small margin and then signed into law by Andrew Jackson.

The relocation of the five tribes had many hardships. It became known as: “The Trail of Tears.” Thousands of Indians died during the forced relocation.

David Crockett was a strong critical thinker who followed his own beliefs and values. He couldn’t be bribed to support any measure he thought was wrong. His celebrated motto was:

“Be sure that you are right, and then go ahead.”

Crocketts Cap

Return from Group Think to Problem Solving Techniques