As with the individual human, human groups must use conceits
in order to function as desired.
As following the rules of the game is necessary for a group
to function, a key for a group is to get its members follow the
written and unwritten conceits. This is done through getting
the members to believe in the conceits, force (laws, penalties),
peer pressure, education, culture, etc. As humans are creatures
of habit, repetition (cultural norms) often leads to acceptance.
"That's the way we've always done it," is a powerful
force on human actions and thought.
Realize that many of a group's rules are arbitrary, even silly.
This can include fashion rules, like the school colors or the
office requirement that men wear that odd strip of cloth called
a tie. Through tradition, school culture, repetition and peer
pressure, students and alumni become psychologically attached
to the school colors. Alumni will tell you they bleed the maize
and blue of University of Michigan or the cardinal and white
of Stanford. There will be student riots on the Ann Arbor campus
if the University decides to change the colors.
* * * *
As with the individual, suppression and distortion of information
is required for a group to function. Sometimes the distortion
is done by leaders and sometimes by members. The following are
examples. With some of these examples you will think the suppression
and desired result are bad. For others you will think they are
* Before Christmas dinner, Grandma has feuding family members
agree to not talk about certain subjects at the table for the
sake of a peaceful holiday. God knows how speaking one's mind
* For the sake of family harmony and happy childhood, parents
may tell their adopted child that she is their biological daughter.
They may explain away her different features by saying a distant
relative looked similar. The girl may live a happy life believing
she is the biological daughter.
* It is likely your parents kept family information secret
* Most movies don't give away the ending at the beginning.
The audience knows and appreciates this.
* In their print and television ads for a new movie, a studio
will list the good reviews and not the bad. A car manufacturer
will promote the best aspects of its car but not of cars by the
* Vladimir Lenin intensely disliked Joseph Stalin and did
not want Stalin to become the ruler of the Soviet Union. Following
Lenin's death, Stalin helped cement his power by producing propaganda
that Lenin was fond of Stalin. Movies were made showing Stalin
and a Lenin look-a-like hanging out like best buds. During Stalin's
rule, a Soviet citizen could get in big trouble for saying what
were Lenin's true feelings about Stalin.
* Many will act to prevent of a study that intends to objectively
compare the mental capacities between races. Even if the information
will be accurate and unbiased, people from many different races
and political backgrounds will wish to abort the study.
* In literature class, the teacher prevents students from
discussing physics, economics and gossip.
* A job application may intentionally not ask the applicant
his or her race, religion and sexual preference. The company
wishes to be ignorant of this information.
* With the intention of preventing kids from using illegal
drugs, many anti-drug campaigns use propaganda. If drug usage
is lowered, the campaigns will consider the factual distortion
to have been worthwhile, and will do it again.
* * * *
A group's design is primarily concerned with performance not
full disclosure or knowledge of the truth. As with Stalin's "Lenin
loved me" campaign, labeling falsehoods as truths is a standard
technique to gain loyalty from members, and is in fact this forced
lying is part of the design.
* * * *
All large groups require insincerity from its members. Insincerity
is the glue that holds a society together. The insincerity includes
people saying things they don't really believe, and things they
often know the people they are talking to don't believe. The
earlier family Thanksgiving dinner at Grandma's involved ignoring
topics that were on everyone's mind.
This alone illustrates that a society is not about full truth
and that a search for truth requires leaving society.
* * * *
When constructing a group, one will try to choose a structure
and rules that will produce the desired results. This means the
first thing to do is to decide what are the desired results.
To achieve the same or similar results, different structures
can be used. If two groups differ from each other in say culture
or age or temperament, different structures may be required to
achieve the same results. For example, creating the rule that
the winner of an academic competition will be awarded season
tickets to the opera will work as incentive with opera fans,
but not with others. Many others will consider opera tickets
incentive to lose.
* * * *
For the society you live in, what are the changes you think
are important (lower crime, ethnic harmony, better educational
system, other), and what type of structure, conceits and information
distortion would you pick to try and achieve these results?
(c) david rudd cycleback, cycleback.com
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