The Group

The sixth cryptomind discussed in “The Mind Club” is “The Group.”   The first question the authors raise is whether groups have a mind.  The mind is intimately related to brains, and groups certainly do not have brains.  Then they note that brains themselves are merely groups of neurons, which themselves are merely groups of neurons.  The authors raise the idea that the group mind might be created by emergence.  So individuals in a group might be unaware of the mind entity just as individuals neurons are unaware of a group mind.  Although individuals in a group might be unaware of an entity such as the group mind, they are aware of many of the beliefs of the other members in the group.

A question that can be difficult is how to define a group.  The authors choose to use Gestalt psychology’s five principles of groupiness:  proximity, similarity, closure, continuation, and common fate.  Combining these principles yields a measure of groupies  that is typically given the more scientific name of “entitivity”—how much something is an entity.

Research suggests that anyone seems dumber in a group to include teenagers, college students, and even the elderly.  Note that this list should not be considered exhaustive.  Psychologists Adam Waltz and Liane Young investigated this notion with the hypothesis that the strength of this effect hinged upon the entitivity of the group, the less mind that individual members should be perceived to possess.  To test this hypothesis, participants rated the minds of individuals  belonging to low-entitivity group like Facebook  users or golf players and high-entitivity groups like the U.S. Martine Corps or the New York Yankees.  It  is unclear how these researchers defined this classification.  It appears that they did an ad hoc definition.

The finding was that the more entitlve group members were stripped of their individual minds.  Unfortunately, this result can be easily misinterpreted.  It is not saying that the individuals of these groups did not have individual minds, but rather that the perception of others were that they did not have individual minds.  One can argue that mission-oriented entities such as the Marine Corps and the Yankees need high entitivity as compared against other groups.

There are two reasons for reporting this study.  One is that psychologists are capable of conducting poorly conceived, executed, and reported research.  The second reason is that research in this area is fairly loose.

This is unfortunate as an understanding of groups is important.  There are dangerous groups such as the Nazis and the Ku Klux Klan.  A particularly unfortunate characteristics is that they make the individual anonymous and more likely to commit harmful, destructive, and discriminatory acts.

Conspiracy theories are a product of the group mind and provide a depressing view of the stupidity in our species.
Unfortunately, the author used histograms to report the results I want to present.  Had they used a table rather than histograms to report these data I could provide accurate numbers rather than having to glance over to the ordinate and try to infer the value.  This is due to the misconception that graphical presentations are preferable to numerical presentations.  The primary consideration for the presentation of results concerns the accuracy and speed by which the information can be interpreted. So I am going to do the best I can given the shortcomings of the presentation format chosen by the authors.

Moon landing hoax                            5%
CIA introduced crack cocaine        12%
Vaccines and autism                       20%
UFO Crash Coverup                        21%
New World Order                            25%
Global Warming Hoax                   35%
JFK Conspiracy                               50%

These results make one question the accuracy of naming our species Homo Sapiens,


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