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_**"…Once we recognise this pattern, we can easily identify countless other examples,large and small, throughout history; from the treatment accorded to Galileo for ques-tioning the Church’s ‘consensus’ that the sun moved round the earth to the hysteriawhipped up in the USA in the early1950s by McCarthy and the Senate Un-AmericanActivities Committee, against anyone who could be demonised as a ‘communist’ andtherefore a traitor.A perfect fictional depiction of groupthink in action is Hans Christian Andersen’sstoryThe Emperor’s New Clothes. When the emperor parades through the streets inwhat he has been talked into imagining is a dazzling new suit, all his deferential sub-jects acclaim it as handsome beyond compare. Only the little boy points out that theemperor is not wearing any clothes at all, and is stark naked. And, of course, thosecaught up in the ‘consensus’ all viciously turn on him for pointing out the truth.In the epilogue I shall refer briefly to other instances of groupthink that have be-come only too familiar in our present-day world. But before we apply Janis’s threerules to the ‘non-debate’ over global warming, we must also add one more very im-portant aspect of the way groupthink operates which he didn’t touch on, because itwasn’t relevant to the particular examples he was analysing
.4 The power of second-hand thinkingGreat power is given to ideas propagated by affirmation, repetition and contagionby the circumstances that they acquire in time that mysterious force known as‘prestige’. Whatever has been a ruling power in the world, whether it be ideas ormen, has in the main enforced its authority by means of that irresistible force wecall prestige.Gustave Le Bon,The Crowd
Janiswas only really concerned with how groupthink affected small groups of peo-ple in charge of US policy at the highest level. But when we come to consider thestory of the belief in man-made global warming, we are of course looking at how thiswas shared by countless other people: academics, politicians, the media, teachers,business executives, indeed public opinion in general.But all these people only got carried along by the belief that manmade globalwarming was real and dangerous because they had been told it was so by others.They accepted as true what they had heard, read or just seen on television withoutquestioning it. And this meant that they didn’t really know why they thought whythey did. They hadn’t thought it necessary to give such a complicated and technicalsubject any fundamental study. They simply echoed what had been passed on tothem from somewhere else, usually in the form of a few familiar arguments or articlesof belief that were, like approved mantras, endlessly repeated…"**_