Tuesday, January 29, 2008

State of the Union Address

I'll be honest. While I follow politics a bit, I tend to skip the speeches because they tend to not tell us anything. It's all show. So, I didn't watch last night's state of the union address. However, I did read about it in the newspaper. Two quotes caught my attention.

First, about taxes.
Others have said they would personally be happy to pay higher taxes. I welcome
their enthusiasm, and I am pleased to report that the IRS accepts both checks
and money orders.

This demonstrates the immaturity of Bush which will be a major part of his legacy. Of course, an uncoordinated and unpredictable influx of money will be of little use to the government. You can always do more as a group than as an individual. Some people are suggesting we, as a society, look at ways to improve lives. Bush can't understand that idea; thus the sarcastic remark toward those who have an ability to understand.

The second quote is about trust:
So in all we do, we must trust in the ability of free people to make wise
decisions, and empower them to improve their lives and their futures.

Certainly not a bad philosophy. One thing gnaws at me whenever I read Republicans preaching about trusting the people. Trust never comes up when talking about abortion or same-sex marriage. In those two instances, suddenly it's the government's job to step in, regulate, and tell the people what to do. Oh yeah, and write up amendments to the Constitution. And the trust keeps rolling in.

Yeah, after reading about the state of the union address, I feel secure in my decision to not watch political speeches. I'll listen to music, watch a television show, read a book, ... okay, okay, I'll surf the web.

And have a good day.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Groupthink and People Who Don't Get It

An unfortunate article came through my groupthink RSS feed today.
Butler M. Our HR columnist: Work is a team sport--but beware of 'group think' that ignores the needs of the organization. People Management. 2007 Nov 29;13(24):43.

This article is frustrating because Butler comes to the correct conclusion--beware of groupthink--even though every step on the way to those conclusions is just a bit off. Instead of acknowledging groups need to be cautious, he suggests that teamwork can be hazardous. No one, to my knowledge, is warning against teamwork. We are warned that group dynamics need to be monitored.

So, while Butler advises correctly that we need to be "eternally vigilant," I would not suggest promoting this article as ignorance seems to be the skeleton of the piece.

If you don't have access to this article, feel comfortable in keeping it that way.

And have a good day.

Groupthink and Citizen Juries in The Netherlands

A month ago, this article came across my groupthink RSS feed.
Huitema D, van de Kerkhof M, Pesch U. The nature of the beast: are citizen's juries deliberative or pluralist? Policy Science. 2007;40:287-311.

To be honest, this article is over my head, but here is what I got out of it. Citizens' (as opposed to penal) juries are minipublics. The conclusion of the article is that you need to design a citizens' jury based on what you want to get out of the jury. Deliberative juries would need to be formed and processed one way while pluralistic juries would need to be formed and processed another way.

Since juries are groups, precautions need to be taken to prevent groupthink. In a deliberative jury, special precautions need to be taken because there is a strong desire to build consensus. In a pluralist jury, there is a strong sense of authority which sends up a groupthink red flag.

A good and interesting read, even though I didn't understand all of it. Some day I'll learn enough to keep up. I suggest giving the article a read.

And have a good day.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Don't Make Me Turn This Web Browser Around

There is certainly a positive aspect in being a shack with no curb appeal on the information superhighway. It's rare that anyone is paying close enough attention to me to start some blogosphere fisticuffs as we've seen this week. In case you missed it, David Rothman took issue with Dean Giustini's BMJ (British Medical Journal) editorial and gauntlets were thrown down.

No, when even your own spouse never reads your blog you're pretty safe from blogfrontations.

However, blog spats might be a pretty good focus for a blog. You know, just keeping tabs on which blog celebrities are feuding with other blog celebrities and putting the information out there for the world to take note. It should be a rollicking good time. Unless political blogs are involved; then it's an eye-rolling good time. (It used to be about the politics; now it's all politics.)

The problem is, of course, the style in which these two are airing their grievances. Sharp, but respectful, comments in--as close as a blog will allow--a discussion. No good. There is only one true way for a geekery 2.0 (if you will) battle to commence: the Slayer application on Facebook and put the footage on YouTube (mind the tags!!!). Keep up with the times, fellows.

And have a good day.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Group Think and Ethical Decisions

A recent article mentioning groupthink:
Prentice, RA. Ethical Decision Making: More Needed Than Good Intentions. Financial Analysts Journal 2007 Nov/Dec;63(6): 17-30.

This article starts out reading like a litany of ways white collar criminals are victims: Obedience to Authority, Conformity Bias, Incrementalism, Groupthink, Overoptimism, Overconfidence, Self-serving Bias, Framing, Sunk Costs, and Loss. However, at the end, it seemed more like a warning to financial analysts--telling what they're up against--before telling them how to steer clear of these demons.

What devices can be used to avoid unethical decisions and practices? Debiasing, keeping ethics in the frame of reference, monitoring rationalizations, and acting courageously. Of course, if you want to know what all this jargon means, you'll need to read the article for yourself. I suggest you do, as it was a very good read and very informative.

And have a good day.