Tag: mob mentality

Groupthink Is a Threat to Justice and Reason

By Joshua D. Glawson | United States

In the world today, it seems as though there are more people who identify with one group or another. All the while, they attempt to dispel any criticisms of that particular group. We see groups with extra protections under various laws such as “hate crimes,” for example. Also, the State often grants special rights to various groups, such as “gay rights” and “women’s rights.” These protections and positive claims rights came about as a consequence of groupthink, collectivism, and variants of so-called “social justice.”

Of course, this is not to say that these groups, or others, do not deserve rights. Rather, the point of Justice is that all are equal under the law and have the same negative claims rights as others. When everyone is equal, there is no need to specify additional rights for any specific group. Thus, adding classifying terms to “rights” and “Justice” negates the purpose of both. Without any modifiers, equality under the law guarantees Justice.

Throughout history and today, there have been many situations where groups, majorities, or the judicial system itself have hurt individuals. Even when the innocent face negative impacts, there is no need to provide extra rights for them or their groups. There should, instead, be a movement to correct the imbalance and enforce equal rights. Providing extra weight for the side of the proverbial scales that someone is robbing is a dangerous idea. When you add to one, you must either take away from another or grant extra rights. Regardless, equality fades, and with it, so does Justice. When an unjust act occurs, it is brought before the law to help determine retribution for the losses or grievances as a cost to the offending party. This, of course, brings the scales of Justice back to an even keel.

What is Groupthink?

As people continue to scramble for their identity found within a group rather than by themselves, they neglect their very own person and trade it for a herd mentality. This, in turn, leads people to form collective beliefs and partake in groupthink.

‘Groupthink’ is a word that social psychologist Irving Janis coined in 1972. Dr. Janis provided eight symptoms of what he determined to be ‘groupthink’ that are as follows:

  1. Illusion of invulnerability –Creates excessive optimism that encourages taking extreme risks.
  2. Collective rationalization – Members discount warnings and do not reconsider their assumptions.
  3. Belief in inherent morality – Members believe in the rightness of their cause and therefore ignore the ethical or moral consequences of their decisions.
  4. Stereotyped views of out-groups – Negative views of “enemy” make effective responses to conflict seem unnecessary.
  5. Direct pressure on dissenters – Members are under pressure not to express arguments against any of the group’s views.
  6. Self-censorship – Members do not express doubts and deviations from the perceived group consensus.
  7. Illusion of unanimity – Members assume the majority view and judgments to be unanimous.
  8. Self-appointed ‘mindguards’ – Members protect the group and the leader from information that is problematic or contradictory to the group’s cohesiveness, view, and/or decisions.

A Destroyer of Justice

Much like Orwell’s 1984, the concept of ‘groupthink’ arouses the mind to do one of two things. First of all, it can dismiss correct claims when one already has a particular groupthink and blind faith. This idea, called Identity-Protective Cognition, is often observable across the spectrum of ideas.

Alternatively, ‘groupthink’ can spark the awareness of the reader to be self-critical and skeptical of our own place in the world as an individual, while pushing to rid him or herself of the mob mentality. As social creatures, we often rely on groupthink, as it is a lazy way of finding knowledge and belonging. However, it is a philosophical sloth, detrimental to logic, rational thinking, and Justice itself.

Groupthink robs the individual of their Reason, as it relies on subjective beliefs of elites and majorities. Groupthink also robs the individual of exploring and growing, as it limits the interactions and thought processes of what one can and cannot explore. A species of collectivism, groupthink breeds the “us versus them” mentality over truth and Justice. In turn, this acts as a conduit of human and social regression, rather than flourishing and progress.

How to Avoid Groupthink

In order to best combat ‘groupthink,’ the individual must self-assess and question him or herself. This is especially true when red flags of collectivism and groupthink arise. As the study of methodological individualism demonstrates, through and through, only the individual acts and only the individual thinks. To rob yourself of your own individualism and capacity to Reason by granting it to the sporadic oscillations of groupthink is the antithesis of what it means to be a person. Simultaneously, it obliterates the very Justice that the groupthink mob falsely claims it fights for.


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Sexual Assault Claims Are Turning into Witch Trials

By Jack Parkos | United States

The term “witch hunt” has been popular ever since the 1692 Salem Witch Trials. Through history, it often describes cases in which either the public or authorities ignore the principle of innocent until proven guilty. Most popularly, the allusion links the witch trials to the McCarthy-era politics of the American 1950s. When linking the two, most make a clear distinction that such mob mentality is severely detrimental and that society should never revert to such a thing again. However, it seems that it now is coming back into American politics.

The Modern American Witch Trials

What is the new witch hunt? Sexual assault allegations. Recently, Christine Ford, and now another woman, Deborah Ramirez, have accused Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault. Kavanaugh has denied both incidents and refuses to back down. Yet, many senators are still calling for him to withdraw before anyone finds him guilty. It seems very clear, thus, that those particular senators are not giving him a fair treatment. We simply do not know the facts of the case yet.

It is easy to observe that in specific crimes regarding sexual assault, different people hold drastically different standards for both the accuser and accused. A high-school civics course will teach the idea of innocent until proven guilty in the court of law. Yet, as the #MeToo movement continues, many are ignoring this critical principle. It is particularly interesting how many of his Democratic opponents are members of the party that overwhelmingly supports social justice, but at the same time, are now denying due process and equal treatment under the law.

Sexual assault, without a doubt, is a serious and deeply-running issue in American society today. Those who are guilty should not go without consequence. But, especially due to the gravity of the issue, they should first go through a fair and legal system.

All It Takes

Just a single accusation of sexual assault may cost someone his or her social life and reputation. Many employers will fire workers over as much. The claim could be completely false and without evidence, but this is inconsequential in an era of mob mentality. The similarities to Salem are horrifying. All it takes is one blasphemous claim to influence the life of an individual and the broader political realm.

Suppose that Ford had accused Kavanaugh of another crime, like theft. Most likely, the justice system would treat him more fairly than in the case of a sexual assault. In this case, innocent until proven guilty would maintain. Why is this not the case for sexual assault and misconduct cases?

Of course, sexual assault is considerably different from theft. It is more deeply personal and to many, more serious as well. However, this is not how the rule of law works. All individuals have the same due process rights, no matter the crime. Legally, the Bill of Rights guarantees this, and morally, it is simply wrong to assume guilt without evidence. Admittedly, the Kavanaugh case is beyond the statute of limitations, but the moral point still stands.

Innocent Until Proven Guilty

Society should apply this principle equally. If all people have this right in the legal system, why not in the court of public opinion? This essential idea should not falter based on a different setting.

The public does not know all of the facts of the case and has not seen all of the evidence yet. Thus, it is wrong to jump to conclusions in any way. We must not call “liar” to the accuser nor must we call “guilty” to the accused. Kavanaugh may be guilty, and Ford may be a liar. To assert either at this point in the game is incredibly unfair and illegitimate. Without the evidence, nobody can suggest so with any degree of certainty. Hence, both parties should receive the same treatment: innocent until proven guilty. Neither side should allow political, personal, or partisan goals to interfere with the virtue of American justice.


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Twitter’s Terrible Mob Mentality

By K. Tymon Zhou | United States

A defining characteristic of mobs is their irrationality. Self-awareness is lost in an all-consuming group identity. They readily apply double standards without a second thought. Most mobs are monstrous mayflies, spreading disaster momentary.  Unfortunately, a mob mentality can morph into a corporate culture. Such is the terrible tale of Twitter and Candace Owens.

Candace Owens, a conservative activist at Turning Point USA, had her Twitter account banned for 12 hours. Why? Mimicking The New York Times writer Sarah Jeong, Owens made defamatory statements:

Such statements are shocking.  One can readily understand why Twitter would ban a user who made such statements. However, Owens stated she simply used black where Jeong used white. Her intent was clear: to criticize Jeong. Nevertheless, Twitter, falsely detecting hate, banned her. To their credit, Twitter apologized. This begs the question: why wasn’t Jeong similarly banned? The answer lies in the psychological origins of mob mentality and Twitter’s corporate culture.

Mobs are a catastrophic case of conformity.  In 1951, Solomon Asch, a psychology professor at Swarthmore College, conducted a classic experiment on conformity.  During the experiment, students were presented several lines and were asked to compare a line.  Asch separated the students into groups of eight with seven being willing confederates with him. The confederates would give an incorrect answer before the unaware participant. However, thirty-two percent of participants agreed with the incorrect majority.   In mobs, individuals who would otherwise challenge the mob’s flawed assumptions bend to the majority’s will. Asch’s experiment presented only peer influence. In reality, mobs present even greater pressure such as damaging a dissident’s career.   This results in even greater conformity under such conditions.

A corporate culture can similarly create conformity. If a corporate culture is dominated by a particular ideology, individuals from opposing ideologies feel less comfortable sharing their views. Such is the case with several technology companies such as Apple and Facebook. In a survey by the Lincoln Network, sixty-six percent of conservatives and libertarians in these companies shared that they would feel uncomfortable sharing their political views with their colleagues. By way of comparison,  only thirty percent of liberals felt similarly.  This liberal corporate culture can lead to poorly informed decisions such as whether or not to ban an individual from using Twitter. Mo Nohrai, a former Twitter content agent, describes this process:

…if they said this is: ‘Pro-Trump’ I don’t want it because it offends me, this, that. And I say I banned this whole thing, and it goes over here and they are like, ‘Oh you know what? I don’t like it too. You know what? Mo’s right, let’s go, let’s carry on, what’s next?

The response of “Mo’s right, let’s go” echoes Asch’s line experiment. In a corporation dominated by liberal ideology such as Twitter, questioning a ban would likely go unrewarded. It would result in exposing political views, something many conservative and libertarian employees find uncomfortable. Instead, they are placed with a stark choice: conform and succeed or dissent and be isolated. Faced with such a choice, remaining silent seems the preferable option, allowing double standards to emerge.

What can Twitter do to resolve this conflict? Altering a culture presents no easy task. By making the banning process more sophisticated, Twitter can avoid embarrassing mistakes such as Owen’s. By decentralizing this process, Twitter could remove the pressure to conform to a content agent’s position.  In any case, substantial reform is needed to control Twitter’s mob mentality. Through such efforts, Twitter can regain its rationality and become the open forum it needs to be.


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Even Roy Moore Has the Right to Due Process

Dylan Schultze | USA

As of thus far, whether or not Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore is guilty of sexually assaulting a 14-year-old girl years ago has not been objectively proven, one way or another. Nobody knows if any of the men who have recently been accused of rape, harassment, assault, or misconduct are guilty, except for those who have admitted it, of course. For some, the evidence is stacked pretty high, but we still cannot assume their guilt without irrefutable evidence.

The purpose here is not to defend predators or to pretend like men aren’t capable of great evil. Any individual has the capacity to commit an egregious act against a fellow human being. However, in this Salem-like witch hunt of sexual abusers, we are losing sight of a core principle that sets America apart from many other nations: Each one of us is innocent until proven guilty.

While we all want to hold anyone accountable for any crimes he or she may commit, we should not become so blinded by our own fear and lust for vengeance that we stop seeing the humanity in others and the rights they have as citizens of this great nation. To allow accusation, rumor, and innuendo to rip people from their jobs and drive them from the circles of respectable society is to allow for mobs to rule with torches and pitchforks.

In particular, I am concerned by the accusations against men in positions of power, because it is set against a backdrop of political hostility towards men in general. Again, this is not a defense of the guilty, or even a criticism of those who want to take steps to bring the guilty to account, legally. However, we must realize that how we are going about it is uncivilized and threatens to rip apart civil society.

Already, we have a culture that is anti-man. Masculinity is dubbed “toxic.” Men on college campuses are fighting for their right of due process, and often aren’t allowed their own spaces without being called sexists, whereas in may cases, women are given exactly these realms.

As an example of society;s current double standard, I will take a recent case from a local elementary school, in which a 7 year old boy elbowed a girl in the rear after she kicked him between the legs. Unsurprisingly, the boy, a mere seven years old, was written up for sexual harassment, while the girl received no punishment. Squabbles between small children will always exist in a free society, and to punish one and not the other, simply based on gender, is an abhorrence.

Clearly, if we are now going to demand that men lose their livelihood and reputations over a potentially-true accusation, if we are going to begin treating mere news reports, second-hand stories, and unproven allegations as fact, we lose one of the core tenets that makes America a free society. In doing so, we become a nation ruled by mob mentality, a nation seeking instant verdicts in the court of public opinion, desiring instant action and instant punishment over true justice.

Clearly, we cannot allow this process to continue, and must slow down and allow due process to take place. Investigate instead of accuse. Consider instead of condemn. Let justice rule instead of vengeance. Otherwise, we all lose. If the rights of the few are sacrificed to feed the mob, the rights of the many will follow.

Innocence must be cherished and accusers must not be treated as if they’re infallible; their words must not immediately become judge, jury, and executioner. The assumption of innocence must remain of greater value than the passions of the plaintiff.

“Is the accuser always holy now?”, Arthur Miller writes in The Crucible. “Were they born this morning as clean as God’s fingers? I’ll tell you what’s walking Salem — vengeance is walking Salem. We are what we always were in Salem, but now the little crazy children are jangling the keys of the kingdom, and common vengeance writes the law!” America has taken leaps and bounds forwards since this dark era. Let us not return to it once more.

(Image Credit: www.slate.com)