Jesus and Groupthink


Standing out from the crowd

We’d all like to feel that we would be prepared to stick up for what we think to be correct, come what may well. I absolutely do.

But reading Kathryn Schulz’s fascinating book, Becoming Incorrect: Adventures in the Margin of Error, I am not so particular that, in truth, I would do.

Schulz describes research that show how incredibly fearful we are of standing out from the crowd – even on the most trivial of troubles.

The energy of groupthink

Take, for instance, this experiment from the 1950s. Social psychologist Solomon Asch showed persons two flashcards at the identical time—one with a single vertical line on it, the other with 3 vertical lines: 1 the identical length, 1 a great deal shorter and 1 a great deal longer. He then asked the persons to inform him, 1 at a time and out loud, which line on the second card was the identical length as the line on the very first card.

This ought to not have been a difficult process. But the persons in the space had – all bar 1 – been planted by Asch and, as per his guidelines, soon after the very first couple of flashcards, they all started to give the identical incorrect answer.

The consequences for the lone genuine topic have been striking. When the experiment was repeated and the information assimilated, Asch discovered that 3-quarters of the lone genuine subjects gave the incorrect answer at least as soon as, and 1-quarter gave the incorrect answer for half or additional of the flashcards. On typical, the subjects’ error price rose from below 1 % when acting independently to practically 37 % when influenced by the group.

This is genuinely shocking.

As I’ve stated, none of us like to feel that we are unduly influenced by peer stress, and all of us want to think that we contact items as we see them, regardless of what these about us say. So it is disturbing to think about that we so readily forsake the proof of our personal senses just to go along with a group.

And this type of ‘groupthink’ is not a new issue.

Groupthink is nothing at all new

Schulz says, if we appear at the Talmud, the rabbinical text – written more than two thousand years ago – that serves as a commentary on the Torah and which is the basis of the Jewish faith, we come across – even then – an fascinating guard against groupthink. According to the Talmud, if there is a unanimous guilty verdict in a death penalty case, the defendant have to be permitted to go free—a provision intended to assure that, in matters so critical that someone’s life is on the line, at least 1 individual has prevented groupthink by offering a dissenting opinion.

So why are we so terrified of standing out from the crowd?

What occurs when we disagree with the ‘group’?

Nicely, the consequences of standing out from the crowd are extreme. We threat something from getting mocked, to getting sneered at, to getting ostracised or even persecuted.

Schulz tells an intense story of this. In 1990, she says, an Afghan man named Abdul Rahman converted to Christianity.

Such conversions are, of course, particularly uncommon in Islamic Afghanistan but Rahman had been functioning for a Catholic charity that supplied health-related help to refugees, and he came to think in the religion of his colleagues.

In the aftermath of his conversion, Rahman’s life, as he had identified it, collapsed about him. His wife, who remained a devout Muslim, divorced him on the grounds that he was an infidel. He lost the ensuing custody battle more than his two daughters for the identical purpose. His parents disowned him, stating that, “Because he has converted from Islam to yet another religion we do not want him in our property.”

All that was undesirable sufficient. But then, in 2006, Rahman was arrested by the Afghan police on charges of apostasy and imprisoned. In accordance with the Hanafi college of sharia law, the prosecutors asked for the death penalty. 1 of them, Abdul Wasi, stated that Rahman “should be reduce off and removed from the rest of Muslim society and ought to be killed.” The Afghan lawyer common seconded that opinion, urging that the prisoner be hanged. Only soon after tremendous international stress was brought to bear on the case was Rahman released from prison. Beneath threat of extrajudicial (if not judicial) death, he was granted asylum by Italy and fled his native nation.

For Rahman, for that reason, standing out from the crowd resulted in him getting banished from his residence, losing his family members, risking execution and in the end getting sent into exile.

Jesus stood out from the crowd

Of course, this is an intense instance.

But it is also what Christ skilled when he stood out from the crowd and challenged the beliefs of his time. And this did lead, for him, to execution. On the cross.

As disciples of Christ, we also are known as to take up our cross and threat standing out from the crowd. Hopefully with out such dreadful consequences.

But let’s all take a small additional courage and be prepared to threat standing out from the crowd – getting proud to say we go to Church, that we are Christian, that we have founded our lives on the Christian faith.

If Jesus had not been prepared to do this – and the early disciples also – we would not have received the present of a faith that has brought such blessing to our personal lives and to the lives of other people for more than two thousand years.

Let’s not let the groupthink of our culture to silence us. Let’s stick up for what we think and hope is correct, come what may well.


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