Genius, pt. XIII

Aside from intimacy, one other thing that Eric Weiner discussed in the Edinburgh chapter of “The Geography of Genius” is groupthink, which was invented by Irving Janis, a research psychologist at Yale University. The author described groupthink as “the flip side of group genius. It is the bugaboo in every theory that celebrates the virtues of collective intelligence. Groupthink is collective stupidity and every culture is susceptible to it.”

But not all groups or communities are affected by groupthink and this depends “on a group’s willingness to entertain dissenting views. Groups that tolerate dissent generate more ideas, and more good ideas, than groups that don’t, studies have found. This holds true even if those dissenting views turn out to be wrong. The mere presence of dissent – even if wrongheaded – improve creative performance.”

To be honest, I like disagreements and sometimes I wish my students would disagree with me so that we’ll start a discussion and maybe get a little annoyed or upset or surprised, but in the end learn something new and different and maybe get a little bit closer to genius.