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October 07, 2006

Like Minds Think Alike

It seems that we're becoming more an more polarized on idealogical issues than ever. I don't get the "Us vs. Them" mentality. To me it's counter productive. I think we become more ingrained in our opinion when we have like minded individuals continually being with, collaborating with others of the same ilk. I guess that happens when you want to solidify your beliefs, to be more righteous in your conviction. There's been some great studies done of groups of people talking about and addressing issues when they tend to have the same mindset vs people with different mindsets in the same group. When you have people with the same mindset they tend to polarize and be more extreme in the views - it's commonly called "group think". When you have differing perspectives within the same group addressing issues the solutions tend to be different, generally because you learn from one another. Perhaps the greatest test of this was when President Kennedy declared "space the new frontier" and committed to put a "man on the moon". What most people don't realize is that engineers had to produce breakthroughs in engineering to order to achieve this feat. Engineers were divided, polarized as to thinking a spaceship could ever be built to land on and return from the moon, safely. So they (NASA) did something extraordinary. They didn't divide the camps of thinking, they actually did the opposite and placed engineers in offices, side by side, one that thought it could be achieved right next to one that thought it couldn't. And they learned from one another. Rather than creating polarized groups that led to extreme views, they actually came up with a solution - and the rest is history. We're polarized over 9/11, we see it with liberals and conservatives, religion, the war and now I'm seeing it every 10 min or so on TV with ads of political candidates blasting one another over issues. Maybe there's a place and time to have a group of people that think alike to be together and discuss issues, maybe that creates an extreme view that pushes the envelop. But maybe, just maybe we should try to seek out or create a contrarian view on an issue, to talk with others and gain their perspective - maybe thats the ticket to the solution. Just an idea.

October 7, 2006 | Permalink

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