Group Minds By Doris Lessing

771 Words 4 Pages
“Teach Your Children Well” In “Group Minds”, noted novelist Doris Lessing argues that humanity is bound by conditioning to submit to the norms and expectations of the group that has the majority in almost any given situation; and that armed with this information we do not use it to improve our lives or institutions. As a solution to this dilemma, she proposes the need to educate the public, specifically children, about this propensity and to teach them the methods in which they may combat it. While I agree with her claim and solution in a very general sense, she failed to make her case. I found that be convincing, her article needs the added weight and gravitas of those who do indeed study the human condition and offer us insight in how …show more content…
That being the case, she relies on her strengths as fiction writer and uses pathos as the main vehicle to persuade the reader, resorting to many of the common logical fallacies to make her points. In the first three paragraphs she characterizes Westerners as cluelessly deluded, believing that they are self-determining individuals, when she argues, they are actually products of the “Group Mind”. And yet, she offers no real proof, “begging the question” throughout her essay with broad generalizations of people’s behaviors and research experiments. Furthermore, she relies heavily on hyperbole to make her points, twice declaring that to maintain one’s unique perspective in the midst of a group is “the hardest thing in the world” (652,653) and she even resorts to it in her thesis statement “we (the human race) are now in possession of a great deal of hard knowledge about ourselves, but we do not use it to improve our institutions and therefore our lives”. (653) There is no way to determine “the hardest thing in the world”. And it is quite obvious by the copious numbers of studies published, that the people who have researched human behavior are using it to educate not only other scientists, but the public as …show more content…
After observing numerous examples of conformity to a comparatively small number of independent dissent, he makes this statement, “That we have found the tendency to conformity in our society so strong that reasonably intelligent and well-meaning young people are willing to call white black is a matter of concern.”(659) Lee Ross and Richard E. Nisbett confirm this behavior in “The Power of Situations” demonstrating that this tendency towards conformity is not based on a person’s predisposition, but is situational, going so far as to say “A half century of research has taught us…, one cannot predict with any accuracy how particular people will

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