Irving Janis’s classic analysis of the Bay of Pigs and other foreign policy fiascoes, Victims of GroupThink, explains that A strong team – a ‘kind of family’ – Can quickly forward into the habit of reinforcing each other’s prejudices out of simple teen spirit and a desire to bolster the group.
This reminds me of the concept of Echo Chambers, where a person’s beliefs are strengthened when they are exposed only to opinions that align with their own.
To break free of GroupThink and Echo Chambers we need to seek out contradictory, contrarian or disconfirmatory opinions. We need to try and falsify our current position in order to progress towards a truth.
Janis details the way in which John F. Kennedy fooled himself into thinking that he was gathering a range of views and critical comments. All the while his team of advisors where unconsciously giving each other a false sense of infallibility. Later, during the Cuban Missile Crisis, Kennedy was far more aggressive about demanding alternative options, exhaustively exploring risks, and breaking up his advisory groups to ensure that they didn’t become too comfortable.