Monthly Archives: September 2011

The Dangerous Group

The young man squinted hard at the lines in front of him. He’d been asked to match a line to another line of the same length. He could see very clearly which it was. There shouldn’t be any doubt.

But the other young men who were seated at the table with him were unanimous. And they had, all of them, chosen the wrong line.

Pressed for an answer the young man went along with the group, knowing their answer was wrong.

To him, agreeing with the group was more important than the truth, was more right than fact.

Soloman Asch, the psychologist that led the experiment, found similar results in group after group. With nothing tangible at risk and no persuasion at all most subjects were willing to let a group of unarmed, nonthreatening strangers prevail at least once.

Questioned later, many of the subjects indicated that they’d feared the ridicule of the group. Some seemed to have even convinced themselves that the group must be right and they themselves wrong.

Conformity studies such as this one seek to observe the level of need of the individual to fit in with a group, but what about the group? What is there to fear from a group and why?

The answer is that groups do have the power to enforce their collective will on an individual, through punishment if necessary, regardless of the rationality, or lack of rationality, of the demand.

Don’t Ask Don’t Tell (DADT), the United States military policy formally repealed today, represents nothing so much as the power of a group to force its own version of reality upon dissenting individuals. Non-conforming service members faced the threat of losing their jobs and their homes, the companionship of their local friends, and were vulnerable to blackmail, perpetuating a threat to national security.

LGBT U.S. military personnel have now gained the right to claim their own thoughts and feelings about sexuality.

The unspoken and well supported fear of the group by individuals is another matter.

But the pension fund was just sitting there

Salon interviewed author Ellen E. Schultz, an investigative reporter for the Wall Street Journal, on her new book, “Retirement Heist,” which details the mechanisms that big companies have used to loot their own employee’s pensions and earned benefits. See: The Theft of the American Pension : Salon – Economics

From the looks of this interview, the book doesn’t go far enough. The theft of retirement savings is bigger than this, as the entire credit and mortgage scheme that collapsed the global economy was about siphoning pensions and global savings from their protected pools through fraudulently overrated and priced investments. Now politicians want to sell the idea that Social Security earned benefits are just another promise that must be broken. Don’t believe it!

Apparently, Moms really do carry their children in their hearts forever

Part of me forever

From the mouths of babes: The curious changes of Sarah Palin

Loss and love

On Loss and Love, and the pain…

Everyone you know is represented in your mind as a construction that you created through your perceptions and thoughts about them. They connect to many things: your memories of their name, face, shape, style.

But your loved ones are special. They are wrapped in your memories and dreams, awash in emotions and meaning. It’s an impossible stew to undo.

Faced with their loss, your mind must inform all of those connections. Pools of emotion are released. Sometimes they flood you, sometimes they trickle or steam, but they won’t be held back completely once the barriers that hold them are punctured.

Pain comes as your mind severs connections to your dreams. The lost one’s part in all the dreams evaporates. The connections that once reached out to them lie exposed and raw, stinging like any physical nerve would. They ARE nerves. Feelings and perceptions flowed through them. Now they bathe in anguish.

Blessed are you if you still have other connections to other loved ones who can offer you comfort, extending lifelines that lift you up from drowning in the rushing tide of your loss. Blessed are you if you have nurtured loving connections to God.