Saturday, July 19, 2008

sheep I

Researchers have also studied minority influence in the context of simulated jury deliberations, where a disagreeing minority prevents unanimous acceptance of the majority point of view. The minority group was never well liked, and its persuasiveness, when it occurred, worked only gradually, over time. The vocal minority was most influential when it had four qualities: it persisted in affirming a consistent position, appeared confident, avoided seeming rigid and dogmatic, and was skilled in social influence. Eventually, the power of the many may be undercut by the persuasion of the dedicated few.

How do these qualities of a dissident minority--especially its persistence--help to sway the majority? Majority decisions tend to be made without engaging the systematic thought and critical thinking skills of the individuals in the group. given the force of the group's normative power to shape the opinions of the followers who conform without thinking things through, they are often taken at face value. the persistent minority forces others to to process the relevant information more mindfully. Research shows that the decisions of a group as a whole are more thoughtful and creative when there is minority dissent than when it is absent.

-Philip Zimbardo, The Lucifer Effect p.266

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

prelude to sheep

To nine out of ten of you the choice which could lead to scoundrelism will come, when it does come, in no very dramatic colors. Obviously bad men, obviously threatening or bribing, will almost certainly not appear. Over a drink or a cup of coffee, disguised as a triviality and sandwiched between two jokes, from the lips of a man, or a woman, whom you have recently been getting to know better and whom you hope to know better still--just at the moment when you are most anxious not to appear crude or naive or a prig--the hint will come.

It will be the hint of something, which is not quite in accordance with the rules of fair play, something that the public, the ignorant, romantic public, would never understand. Something which even the outsiders in your own profession are apt to make a fuss about, but somethings, says your new friend, which "we"--and at the word "we" you try not to blush for mere pleasure--something "we always do." And you will be drawn in, if you are drawn in, not by desire for gain or ease, but simply because at that moment, when the cup was so near your lips, you can not bear to be thrust back again into the cold outer world.

It would be so terrible to see the other man's face--that genial, confidential, delightfully sophisticated face--turn suddenly cold and contemptuous, to know that you had been tried for the Inner Ring and rejected. And then, if you are drawn in, next week it will be something a little further from the rules, and the next year something further still, but all in the jolliest, friendliest spirit. It may end in a crash, a scandal, and penal servitude; it may end in millions, a peerage and giving the prizes at your old school. But you will be a scoundrel.

- C.S. Lewis, The Inner Ring (1944)

Monday, July 14, 2008

Poetry ?!

ok. . . well, go easy, kids, I don't usually go public with this sort of thing. ;)

also, the formatting is somewhat all messed up. Oh well.

My Friend Greg is a Fascist

I wanted to be somewhere warm
and kept moving around on the office floor
and called Greg, who first thing
reminded me I am
a cripple
and tried to focus on the talk
but somewhere between t12 and l4
the silence is screaming
and I focus not to focus on the pain
promising myself a future
and pardoning myself the odd lapse
in discourse

I imagine what he'd be like here
the cold impassive face of this, my friend
wonder if he could see my body shake
and what it would be like
if he could feel the things I feel
the cold, the shaking nausea, and
the God
the pain, that creeps into, and out,
around, clinging into the crevices of
your awareness you weren't even aware
were there
And know what I have learned
from laying on the floor fighting tears
unthoughtfully hushing the scream
of each new breath, alone

That those are the times
to breathe into your pain
and feel it calm
In every breath to touch the
new-found steel of its core
and then move on.