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>The Dangers of Group Decisions

>By Don White
Group Decisions Are Losers:
Groups usually make poor decisions. Recently, I read a story of the millionaires who are the group that advises Barak Obama. He’s starting to turn to them again. He usually flies almost alone, with only his family or staff, from one campaign destination to another, listening to music, reading, and writing his next speech.

But this last time he had a plane-load of old friends whom he considers his inner advisory group and he roved up and down the isles soaking in their spirit. Almost without exception, they are Chicagoans or Illinois people of high standing and influence in the country,old friends and supporters.

Admirable, right? But when you examine Barak Obama you find that he lacks the experience to make good decisions himself. As president, if he has to rely on others, which he will, he’s going to make a poor president. He has never served in the military and will make a poor commander in chief and a poor president, based on the fact that he has never done anything or run anything, never sponsored significant legislation either as a state representative or a Senator for two years.

I’m not spouting gloom for America and Obama just to be negative. This is not strictly my opinion either,this is the record. If you want further backup on that, I suggest you read Ronald Kessler’s excellent article about Obama’s public and private record recorded in NewsMax entitled “Obama’s Inexperience Tough To Ignore.”

President Kennedy had this same deficit. He was young and inexperienced, so he brought into the White House this huge think tank advisory group. All of us were unduly impressed by the names of Kennedy’s advisors. They included Theodore C. Sorensen, speech writer; Dean Rusk, Secretary of State; C. Douglas Dillon; Defense Secretary Robert S. McNamara; Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy; Postmaster General J. Edward Day; John A. Gronouski; Stewart L. Udall, Interior; Orville L. Freeman, Agriculture; Luther H. Hodges, Commerce; Arthur J. Goldberg, Labor; W. Willard Wirtz, and Abraham Ribicoff, Health, Education and Welfare; Anthony J. Celebrezze; and Adlai Stevenson, UN.

That was a high-powered think tank, each in every way as smart as they get. Obama, no doubt, will have a just as highly educated think tank; and so will McCain. But what kinds of decisions do they come up with when they act as a group, making decisions?

Usually, not so good. The Bay of Pigs could be used as an example. Committee decisions are usually poor. And early in an inexperienced president’s tenure, that’s the kinds of decision-making that takes place because he must lean on others heavily.

Stephen Leeb, in his book The Coming Economic Collapse, quotes social psychologist Irving Janis who wrote a book, Psychological Studies of Policy Decisions and Fiascoes.
Janis recounts how many of Kennedy’s advisers had misgivings about supporting the invasion of Cuba that turned out so badly. They realized that errors were likely being made, but the pressure to maintain group solidarity prevented those concerns from being raised and properly addressed. Leeb said that some group members, Robert Kennedy for one, actually tried to keep information from the president that might have alerted him of the danger.

“Janis concludes that the closed-mindedness, overconfidence, and pressure within the group to conform can lead to a deterioration of mental efficiency, reality testing, and moral judgment, which he calls groupthink.

A recent parallel to the Bay of Pigs incident was the U.S. government’s belief in the early 2000s that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction. Leeb said that claim was “laid to rest by America’s chief weapons inspector, David kay, in 2004.”

The Economist, in a special report on the Senate Intelligence Committee investigation into the intelligence failure, notes: “It diagonosed a severe case of ‘groupthink’: that is, that the spies were failing to test the general assumption that Iraq had a growing WMD program. To have done so would have been considered heresy, which may be why Hans Blix, chief UN weapons inspector, accuses America of positing ‘faith-based intelligence.’ “

In the next installment we shall discuss “Overcoming Psychological Barriers” that each of us have. We shall determine why civilizations go into decline and fail and what separates those, such as the Japanese and British, which face extinction but which find ways to solve their energy or other crises. We will talk more about the crisis of energy facing the U.S. today and why Democrats, in particular, seem reluctant to buy onto the idea that this crisis poses an immediate threat to America; why it has the capability of ending our nation as we know it in a short period of time, and why they believe, just as in the technology bubble of the late 1990s, this crisis will just go away; and why they would rather buy onto the idea that if global warming is not properly addressed, over a much longer period the world’s population could become extinct.

For my money, if you give me just one to five years and fail to drill for new energy and compare that to the hundred or so years that you have with the global warming threat, I take saving our nation first, then worrying about fixing global warming later with new technology, perhaps.
Part Two will follow in a few days.

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