I came across the following excerpt from an article by Irving Janis in 1977; its an apt description of a well know contemporary political party:
Eight symptoms that are indicative of groupthink:
1. Illusions of invulnerability creating excessive optimism and encouraging risk taking.
2. Rationalising warnings that might challenge the group’s assumptions.
3. Unquestioned belief in the morality of the group, causing members to ignore the consequences of their actions.
4. Stereotyping those who are opposed to the group as weak, evil, disfigured, impotent, or stupid.
5. Direct pressure to conform placed on any member who questions the group, couched in terms of “disloyalty”.
6. Self censorship of ideas that deviate from the apparent group consensus.
7. Illusions of unanimity among group members, silence is viewed as agreement.
8. Mindguards — self-appointed members who shield the group from dissenting information.
The prominent political party that you think of when reading the list – ACT, the Greens, Labour under Clark, the Bush Administration in the US – are probably indicative of your own tendencies towards groupthink. It seems to apply equally to most if not all political movements across the ideological landscape. My impression is that its getting worse: I wonder if someday soon we’ll see John Key bringing in outside consultants from the CTU, or President Obama making Ann Coulter his Chief of Staff in some modish attempt to escape the perils of groupthink.