We are all aware of a claimed consensus on climate science, although what the consensus actually is and how far it goes has yet to be defined, in my view. That is not the issue raised here. A book authored by Janis, I. L. & Mann, L. (1977) Decision-making: A psychological analysis of conflict, choice, and commitment (New York Free Press), explores the concept of ‘Group Think,’ which shows a remarkable parallel with the way the climate science consensus is operated and protected.
Eight symptoms of Group Think are listed below:
1. Illusion of Invulnerability: Members ignore obvious danger, take extreme risk, and are overly optimistic.
2. Collective Rationalization: Members discredit and explain away warning contrary to group thinking.
3. Illusion of Morality: Members believe their decisions are morally correct, ignoring the ethical consequences of their decisions.
4. Excessive Stereotyping: The group constructs negative stereotypes of rivals outside the group.
5. Pressure for Conformity: Members pressure any in the group who express arguments against the group’s stereotypes, illusions, or commitments, viewing such opposition as disloyalty.
6. Self-Censorship: Members withhold their dissenting views and counter-arguments.
7. Illusion of Unanimity: Members perceive falsely that everyone agrees with the group’s decision; silence is seen as consent.
8. Mind guards: Some members appoint themselves to the role of protecting the group from adverse information that might threaten group complacency.
I can certainly see how ignoring the dangers of concentrating all of our efforts on futile CO2 reduction, ad hominem attacks, personal smears, US State Climatologists losing their jobs, and the likes of RealClimate plus some media outlets as ‘Mind guards’ fits into this framework. No doubt some blog readers will agree and can think of other examples. Others, of course, will disagree.
Thanks to John McLean for alerting me to the concept of ‘Group Think.’