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Groupthink back-fired?

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What’s Next: The Idiocy of Crowds by David H. Freedman at

The effectiveness of groups, teamwork, collaboration, and consensus is largely a myth. In many cases, individuals do much better on their own. Our bias toward groups is counterproductive. And the technology of ubiquitous connectedness is making the problem worse.

I’ll understand if you demand to see the study on that one. But it’s silly to quote a single study on the failure of groups because there are so many–dozens of them, going back decades–that there’s no good way to pick one out.

Our bias toward groups is counterproductive. And technology is making the problem worse.

Found Via: Dave Snowden’s Cognitive Edge

From Dave:

I think this brings to the fore a key principle of Cognitive Edge, namely that of bounded applicability and also a dual theme to which I constantly return in my own writings namely the criticality of context and the false promise of universal recipes. The evangelical promotion of knowledge, world cafes etc privileges consensus over knowledge if taken to excess. Surowiecki in one of the better popular science books properly describes the conditions under which a crowd can be wise which involves the participants being unaware of the overall subject, but dealing with aspects of the problem. We use ritual dissent in specific contexts to improve sense-making. I use the Wikipedia a lot, but I don’t and will never fully trust it, neither do I think it should replace books and refereed journals. Mass validation of truth has generally been exploited by tyrants in the past and a tyranny can be collective as well as individual.

A near messianic adoption of a single approach is a sin: often of commission, frequently of omission. Both as students of Dogma will know are equal in nature. So stand up and be counted!

The article and Dave’s commentary reminds me of the ‘community of practice’ type online forums. Most of the time the whole purpose get compromised by the ‘buy-ins’ and majority and dominant groupism. Almost all the time the context is victimized.

I am a strong supporter of collective learning, but one formula is not applicable in every cases. I’ll prefer connected wisdom over collective wisdom.

Written by anol

September 10th, 2006 at 12:16 pm

One Response to 'Groupthink back-fired?'

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  1. I think that the wisdom of crowds only works if the crowd is large enough and diverse enough. If it’s self-selecting, then you get group think. Connected wisdom can be effective, if the connections remain open, or you will get the echo chamber effect.

    My 2 cents worth ;-)

    Harold Jarche

    10 Sep 06 at 6:53 pm

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