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.

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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 good.

* 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 ruined Thanksgiving.

* 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 from you.

* 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 competition.

* 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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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, all rights reserved