Thursday, February 5, 2009

The Collective Effect

Tēnā koutou katoa – Greetings to you allA Huge Crowd
Why should our principles, beliefs, creeds, raison d'être as trainers and educators, be dislocated because of a global financial crisis? It seems illogical that just because things have got tough financially, even on a global scale, our fundamental ideologies as educators should have to be reviewed and turned around.

Is it logic?

We do not rush to review our theories of Mathematics, or of Science, or of Computer Logic Theory, just because we can’t afford to buy the software. So why should pedagogy and training theory be any different? Yet this is the sort of so-called logic that I’m reading about and listening to, that’s being touted on the Net - right now.

It seems that, because of our global financial situation, we should rethink all that we've done in the past about teaching, training and learning. It beggars logic.

A possible genetic throwback:

I begin to think that, perhaps, this is a genetic throwback. Maybe, way back in time, when crisis struck our primitive ancestors, some of them began to behave erratically, even stupidly. For some chance reason, the genetic strain that was shared by those demented individuals survived, and was passed on to some of us who are here today. Could this be what happened?

I muse over so-called mass-hysteria – a strange and insanely illogical behaviour of people in large groups, who experience unusual, synchronous, emotional events. I wonder how much of what we are witnessing is as a result of the so-called bandwagon effect.

If we can have collective intelligence,
why can’t we have collective stupidity?

Ka kite anō – Catch ya later


Michael Hanley said...


Clay Shirky gave an fascinating lecture on this topic a few years ago called "A group is its own worst enemy."
You can read the transcript here:

paul c said...

Today Obama closed the door on extravagant executive pay for American companies receiving bailout money. I wonder if in collective stupidity there are the recurring human nature traits of selfishness, greed, and arrogance etc. Seven vices versus seven virtues. How does one encourage the virtues?

Blogger In Middle-earth said...

Haere mai Michael

Thanks for Clay Shirky's transcript. I found it a fascinating read and will be going back to ponder over some of his ideas - there is a lot there!

I recently had a chat with our Anglican pastor about this, having read Shirky's paper. He was aware of the phenomenon of group destruction within groups, and how factions within groups can defuse or divert the missions with no real malice intended. Though this isn't the prevalent course of groups, it is a significant pathway for many.

I appreciate the time you took to bring this interesting transcript into Middle-earth. It is a real pleasure having you visit.

Kia ora Paul!

"Extravagant executive pay". It is certainly a worthy thought to do something about that - good on Obama. Here's power to his elbow to implement all that's required to lock that door.

Now you speak of "selfishness, greed, and arrogance etc" being part of collective stupidity. I'm not so willing to include those in stupidity, but I'm willing to admit that they could be corrobarative in contributing to the overall effects.

Encouraging the virtues is a strange one. It has been my desire for a long time to find, in my heart, a resolution for vice. Unfortunately studies in Science do not assist me with this.

I learnt only that opposites attract, and that negative and positive invariably exist in even balance with one another. Getting rid of one or other of the two polar attributes, whatever the nature of them, is seemingly impossible without the application of exponentially increasing effort. But one can feel valiant in making the attempt.

Catchya later