“Groupthink” is what naturally happens when a group becomes sedentary and sluggish. When change is introduced or new people are introduced, they challenge the “groupthink.” I’ve never seen the word groupthink (when used correctly) as a positive. Does the church suffer from groupthink or just unity (“being one,” and “if ye are not one, ye are not mine.”)? You decide.First, a definition of the word groupthink: n. The act or practice of reasoning or decision-making by a group, especially when characterized by uncritical acceptance or conformity to prevailing points of view. So, do Mormons practice groupthink? If so, is that a good thing (aligning with God’s will) or a bad thing (stifling oneself in favor of the perception of the majority)?
There are some traits that are commonly expected among members of the church. The traits I want to evaluate are: loyalty, conservativism, conformity, hierarchy, structure, tradition, and formality. There may be some who generally dislike one or more of these traits, but upon further examination it is probably just a reaction to being out of sync with the current consensus of the Mormon community. Each of these traits could be considered on a scale from the opposite of the trait to an extreme version of the trait. Where do you draw the line for yourself personally on each of these?
- Loyalty creates cohesion. But if it goes too far, you get radicalism.
- The other end of the loyalty spectrum is opposition, rather than disloyalty, because both ends of the spectrum are activist by nature, not passive. How do you feel about each of the following on the continuum: persecution to the point of killing church members, active opposition to the church, expressing outsider criticism, harboring resentment toward the church (but not acting on it), expressing insider criticism, verbal defense of the church, active defense of the church, willing to kill church enemies.
- Where do you fit between active opposition to the organization and active loyalty to the organization?
- Conservativism creates stability. But if it goes too far, you stop progressing.
- The other end of the conservative spectrum is anarchy or instability–actively breaking down existing practices and stable structures.
- Where do you fit on this scale – how radical are the changes you would like to see introduced and how quickly would you like to introduce them? How opposed are you to changes that are even now introduced? Do you yearn for the good old days?
- Conformity creates unity. But if it goes too far, it creates inauthenticity and stifles self-expression.
- The other end of this scale is complete individuation, and prizing uniqueness by looking to distinguish everyone as individuals. The conundrum is that often what passes for self-expression is just a desire to conform to a different model that the individual finds more appealing.
- Do you accept the conformity standards at church or do you feel you have to be inauthentic to fit in? Do you feel free to express yourself while still being accepted by the community?
- Hierarchy creates order. But if it goes too far, you get unrighteous dominion and blind obedience.
- The opposite of hierarchy is a populist, grass roots, egalitarian leadership – leadership by the vocal masses, loosely similar to the ideal of communism (certainly not the practice of it). On the downside, this can be chaotic and result in the rule of charismatic underdogs. Likewise, some prefer to relinquish their own responsibility by relying too much on hierarchy, even in a lower-power structure organization, taking even the most innocuous statements as law.
- How hierarchical do you feel the church is? Is it too hierarchical (too many detailed mandates from the highest levels) or not hierarchical enough (too many decisions made at the local level)? What level of hierarchy is most comfortable to you?
- Structure creates security. But if it goes too far, it is like a prison.
- The opposite of structure is having no programs and free, open meeting agendas. The risk is that nothing gets accomplished and nothing is measured.
- How much structure is comfortable to you? Is there too much structure in the church (checklists, correlated manuals) or too little (open dogma, lay clergy, not commanded in all things)?
- Tradition builds a legacy. But if it goes on too long, it becomes obsolete.
- The opposite of tradition is spontaneity. In worship, this could be constant change to meeting formats, speaking and music styles, etc. To some extent, charismatic meetings are more spontaneous in this manner, but consistently charismatic meetings have their own traditions.
- Cultural preferences in Mormonism can embody the whole religion for some people. How do you respond to changes in tradition (no more roadshows, no more farewell meetings run by the family, changes to the temple ceremony)? Do you feel there are some traditions that should end or are you comfortable with the traditions – do they make it your home?
- Formality creates a sense of purpose. But if it goes too far, form overtakes function and erodes meaning.
- The opposite of formality is casualness. Some religions are very casual by comparison – preachers in jeans, barbecuing with worship, etc.
- How formal is too formal to you? How casual is too casual? Do you like the balance in Mormonism or is it too formal or not formal enough?
If there is a continuum for each of these, where do you think the church sits? Where do you sit? Are you aligned? If so, how do you avoid the perils of groupthink? If not, how do you avoid ostracism from the church community? How can a group like the church remain cohesive while avoiding the negative extremes of groupthink?
I don’t really think of “groupthink” as a bad thing in the church. After all we are encouraged to be of one mind and one heart just as Heavenly Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost are of one mind. We are encouraged to be so all throughout the scriptures. I think the scriptures only use the word “independent” once and it wasn’t in that context. Yes, we are to think for ourselves but we are not to believe just anything. We are to seek for truth wherever it resides.
Just a couple of my thoughts on the subject. Great subject and insight though. Thanks!
I guess i would depart somewhat from Rick M. I think groupthink is bad. In fact, as I recall, it was developed as a concept to explain the Bay of Pigs fiasco and similar type actions, where a group of highly intelligent people made a catastrophically bad decision. So groupthink = mountain meadows massacre. I don’t feel that I can advocate this short of process of decision-making. Unity should come from ‘proving contraries’ as Eugene England would say, and althought I do not think this is an infallible process I think that the respect and love it engenders is more what it means to be one; rather a group of people who think the same things
In each of the bullet points, I can think of examples where the church provides the benefit. I can also think of examples where the church goes too far in each of the bullet points. Those examples are going to be on a sliding scale that is different for everybody. I can easily see where an example of “too far” that I might give would represent someone else’s “benefit” or vice versa.
Groupthink scares me. I find it frightening that there’s even a possibility that church members would suppress their own consciences in order to go along with church policy. I know a few people who did just that in the prop 8 campaign (ie changed how they were intending to vote, gave money they wouldn’t have given otherwise), and it makes me really uncomfortable.
Mytha – I can understand people who genuinely change their position, and maybe there was some of that with Prop 8. I guess people can use a whole host of reasons for people changing their point of view. I can even understand defering to authority, because we all do that to some extent somewhere along the line. But I agree that suppressing your conscience is bad. There is a difference however, for me between suppressing your conscience and exploring your feelings and changing, even if a Church leader has asked it of you.
Nothing to add, really. Just wanted to say that I like each of your point beginning with “the opposite.”
I love in Zarathustra where Nietzsche describes Z seeing the men who are called geniuses, and they are creatures like one tiny man with a great big eye, or one tiny man with a great big ear, or hand. The point is to grow all parts ‘until we come to the measure of the fullness of the stature of Christ.’ Acknowledging the value in opposites is a great way to remind ourselves that we can’t paint ourselves into corners of identity. Our potential is to become like Christ, who sees from all truthful perspectives, and in whom opposites are contained and transformed into holiness. What an Iron Rod Mormon needs is more Liahona, and what a Liahona needs is more Iron Rod, and this is only just possible with a lot of humility, and is close to meaning of being a penitent person. What is much more common is that we expend our spiritual, emotional and intellectual energy on being birds with one wing. ~
The Church does not encourage independent thought. It encourages all to think and pray until the member realizes that [fill in the blank here]. This could be in regards to large matters like whether the BoM is true, or small matters like receiving confirmation that your bishop or your calling is inspired.
It does not encourage members to discover their own way of thinking. It simply encourages members to discover for themselves what the church has already told them.
Go and find out for yourself that the church is true. If you come back with a different answer, you will be encouraged to try again or try a different way until you get the right answer.
The church is happy to think for you. Borrow your parents testimonies, don’t learn what works for you, trust the advice of church leaders and the youth pamphlet. Although repentance is great, it is better to NEVER sin then to leave the path and come back.
If the church is true, it’s all sound advice. If it’s not, it’s stifling independent thought and it has plenty of the negative attributes that result from groupthink.
Right on, Dexter. Our church, as presently run, does not appear to encourage independent thought or any degree of dissidence. On a local level, if you receive a calling and don’t get an answer that it is inspired, you are either urged to go pray some more or are thought to be not supporting your local leaders. If you receive an answer contrary to the standardized way, at the very least you are looked at askance.
While some may argue that our scriptures and whatnot place much more acceptance on differences and on discovering truth, contemporary Mormon culture appears to equate unity with uniformity, and conscience with conformity.
I think it’s less of a continuum between the extremes, and more a matter of perspective. For example:
“groupthink” = a consensus or belief system I don’t like
“consensus” “philosophy” “outlook” “belief system” = a groupthink I like
“conformity” “uniformity” = convergent or overlapping beliefs I don’t like
“unity” “order” = convergent or overlapping beliefs I like
“stifling independent thought” = guidance and received wisdom I don’t like
“acceptance on difference” “discovering truth” = guidance and received wisdom I like
IMO, of course.
I tend to agree with Dexter and Kate. A simple test can be helpful in this regard and they have alluded to it. If a leader spaks, or a person is encouraged to pray about the truthfulness of the church, or a doctrine, or the BoM, etc. is there any other alternative that is acceptable to an orthodox member other than it being true? (I know there are exceptions to this, but generally speaking) What does this say about their conclusions? They aren’t even falsifiable!
I think the church, as a whole, engages in groupthink to a large degree. I think it is a cultural problem, as well as a hierarchical problem. Generally speaking, I think the church places the organization first, and the individual second. When consistency in testimony (no kids, no stories, no thank-i-monies, etc.), correlation, rules, formalities, etc. become the goal, we are losing sight of the individual. Is the church’s job to promote growth, or to help individuals? For me, this all boils down to fear and control. Humans desire control, to alleviate perceived fears. Leaders are afraid of spiritual anarchy, damaging immature testimonies, etc. etc. Goin along with this post, I think we could ask the question, is the church authoritarian? That helps answer the groupthink questin IMHO.
Hawkgrrrl, I liked the post, but I think you have made some possibly invalid assumptions in your bullet points. You are sort of painting a picture that the characteristics in bold do something, and its corresponding opposite has the opposite effect. Then you ask about the spectrum in between. I’m not sure that’s valid analysis. Does anarchy always create instability? In both the long run and short run? I know anarchists who have some pretty convincing logic. Does having no programs, and free open meetings create insecurity? In what way, and by whose definition? What logic backs this up? Have we tried it? Would nothing get done, or would the group figure it out on its own?
I guess my point is, I think we are taking for granted that the opposites of your bulleted points have the opposite effect. I’m not sure I buy into that. If one looks at the logc, and reasoning of various political camps, the libertarian ideal has the fewest leaps of logic, and rests on very unchallenged principles (I know I’m preaching to the choir a bit here hawk). It is the minimalist ideal. Contrast this with either communism, or authoritarian regimes in which many illogical leaps have to be made to maintain control over a perceived threat and provide the coveted security and safety.
I think a more interesting question is why do we fell the need to have conformity, structure, rules, tradition, formality? What do we feel that reall affords us, and does it accomplish its goal? Or would that goal be achieved in the long run while allowing more freedom?
Re: Thomas Parkin
Brilliant comment, I love it and could not agree more. Part of why I stay a member is to be amongst iron rodders who help keep me questioning my own ideas, and keep me humble (I hope).
Doesn’t groupthink really only apply to the decision makers, not really the general public?
For example, Bay of Pigs was a disaster because leadership was narrow-minded and didn’t challenge their assumptions which led to a decision that led to a disaster. The soldiers carrying out the orders were not involved in groupthink, they were involved in obedience to authority.
In the church, the 1st Pres and Q12 must decide a position on Prop 8, or whatever, but for me as a member, I’m asked to obey direction from leaders or I can choose my free will to not obey. But obedience is different than groupthink, IMO.
The danger for the church is if the 1st Pres and Q12 are all men, all white, all older group, all striving for peaceful and unified decisions…then they can fall prey to groupthink. On the other hand, they are all sincere in their duty and it has been said they challenge each other until a decision is made, then there is consensus in carrying out the decision.
Groupthink really applies to smaller groups, not large ones. Aaron hit the nail on the head with his definition of groupthink as well. It is usually when a group of normal to intelligent people get together and make catastrophically bad decisions. The outcome is worse than it might have been if just one person had been given the task.
The opposite of groupthink is synergy. When a group decision or outcome is better than what any one of the people could come up with.
I don’t think the church suffers from groupthink. I think that many members suffer from lack of faith, not just faith that the lord is directing the lives of individuals, but also a lack of faith that other members can decide for themselves what is right and wrong. I don’t think the problem lies in official church doctrine, but more in the unwritten cultural “rules” that so many people cling to.
I also agree with jmb275 that there can, and probably should be a happy medium between the Iron Rodder and the Liahona. That happy middle ground may be in a different place for different situations.
Re: Ian Cook
I think you have mischaracterized groupthink. You have only listed the outcomes of groupthink isn’t an outcome, but rather an process that leads to a specific (usually bad) outcome. Same with synergy. The outcome doesn’t define whether or not it’s synergy or groupthink, but the process of making the decisions.
No, groupthink applies to any group, not just decision makers. It isn’t about the outcome, it’s about the process.
The process of groupthink is about coming to conclusions without doing the critical testing, analysis, or evaluating ideas. Unfortunately, what prevents group think is something either the group has already or not. It’s not as if a group can simply generate ideas, test them, and choose. It requires independence, individuality, a feeling of freedom of expression, etc. This is something that must be cultivated in the long run. The leaders of the church won’t get away from groupthink by simply challenging each other. It might help, but it is doubtful that 15 men from a similar demographic are capable of coming up with each cognitively diverse ideas to avoid groupthink entirely. How does this apply to a large group? Well Irving Janis said it best “A mode of thinking that people engage in when they are deeply involved in a cohesive in-group, when the members’ strivings for unanimity override their motivation to realistically appraise alternative courses of action”
I highly recommend the wikipedia article found here:
I sincerely believe everyone here could benefit immensely from the 2 treatises (PDF format) below. At least try the first one. It is about groupthink and the state of the modern-day LDS Church. It is extremely enlightening and completely supported with scriptural and historical citations. If you find it interesting, you will definitely want to go on to the second one.
I dunno…I’ve read through that wiki defintion of Groupthink and don’t see how a lot of it applies to the church leadership, but without witnessing meetings or seeing how outside independent groups are consulted…it is hard to really know.
I guess to go back to Hawkgrrrls questions…the antidote to me on avoiding the pitfalls of groupthink in the church is HUMILITY.
My view of the prophets, seers, and revelators are that they are the most humble people from what I witness (albeit from afar). If they don’t have a personal agenda, they won’t be power hungry to conform to a group consensus, so groupthink would be less an issue than in a government group or business organization where people’s livelihoods are at stake and their image is important on how to influence others. I don’t think those power struggles exist in the church leadership.
Well, I do think humility is required to get past groupthink, but I would also add that so is diversity. If you have a homogenous group loaded with humility, you’ll still get groupthink.
In reality, this post is two separate concepts: groupthink (which relates to thought process) and individual orientation to group norms. In looking at the scales, I think it’s quite possible that there isn’t that much variation amongst church leadership on these norms (which could contribute to groupthink), but there’s more variation amongst the membership at large (although not perhaps as much as what would be ideal).
I think it’s interesting how the first comment to this posting included this: “After all we are encouraged to be of one mind and one heart just as Heavenly Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost are of one mind.”
This statement can be taken two ways. Are we of one mind, because we all believe the truth? Or are we of one mind, because we all do what we are told? I’ve served with leaders from stake presidents, bishops, and on down, who had the attitude that “unity” meant “do what I say, and don’t make waves.” That is the bad form of groupthink, and is terribly unrighteous. I doubt that HF, JC, and HG became of “one mind” because HF browbeats them into conformity.
In real life, the only way for humans to draw close to a state of being “of one mind” is discussion, some disagreement, advocating for their own beliefs, with a willingness to hear the other side. If I am not willing to hear another’s viewpoint, we will never become of “one mind.” Worse, it will be my fault as much as anyone’s. If I am a bishop, I cannot blame the members because I refuse to discuss things with them.
Leaders govern by consent of the governed, even in the Mormon church. People can agree and follow, can be browbeaten and follow, or somewhere in between. If the attitude of a leader is “do what I say, or go to Hell/Outer Darkness/Telestial Kingdom,” the church will never be of one mind and heart.
Mormons most certainly engage in Groupthink, but I think that’s to be expected in a situation where people have voluntarily joined a group that believes a small handful of men speak for God, and that it’s their duty to follow what those leaders say. Once you accept that premise, it’s inevitable that genuine critical analysis will be rare (after all, why critically examine statements by someone you already believe reveals God’s will to you?), and it’s inevitable that people will feel obligated to “follow the Prophet” rather than “challenge/question the Prophet.”
Moreover, when LDS leaders teach that the Prophet will “never lead us astray,” or teach that God will bless us if we obey the Prophet even if what the Prophet says is wrong, why would Mormons critically examine the Prophet’s commands? If disagreement with, or disobedience toward, the Prophet is disallowed or at least strongly discouraged, is there any wonder there is a lack of critical analysis of what the Prophet says?
But I don’t think most Mormons would see any problem with the fact that they don’t critically examine what Church leaders tell them. Again, because the fundamental premise of the LDS Church is that its leaders are the few authorized representatives of God on Earth who can discern and reveal God’s will to mankind, they feel grateful to have someone who can reveal God’s will to them. (“We thank thee, O God, for a prophet to guide us in these latter days.”) So if you believe in the concept of prophets, and you believe the President of the LDS Church is God’s Prophet, you’re going to trust and believe and obey him, and feel grateful for his guidance, rather than challenging it.
So, yes, Mormons engage in Groupthink, but I don’t think most Mormons would see that as a problem, I personally don’t find that too surprising given what the fundamental premises of the LDS Church are.
#6 – That’s why I voted for Thomas Parkin for the best blogger on the Niblet Award thread.
Elders Quorums seem to be especially prone to groupthink.
One of the real dangers of groupthink is that it creates an illusion of consensus where there is not, in fact, unity of thought. Dissenting viewpoints are severely criticized, and the holders of those views are marginalized, stereotyped, and maligned. Consequently, members of the group are unwilling to express dissenting opinions. The absence of outward dissent gives the impression of agreement, even though several group members may not in fact agree with the majority’s views.
I also think it is especially harmful when those who conform, even honestly trying to not make waves, are the ones chosen by the bishop to serve in leadership positions. Then you get councils that are all of the same mold and don’t really represent the whole ward. I think we have this problem in my ward. The bishop seems to want to work with people that are easy to get a long with and have his similar personality. It probably makes meetings easier, but there are real issues in the ward that I don’t think they understand.
I think it is more likely to happen at the ward level then the stake level, and less likely in higher levels of church government, but that is just my viewpoint…no real experience to back that up other than little contact with stake presidents and general authorities that always leave me thinking: “They really get it, which is why they are called at that level.”
Ironically, I would see it to be more likely higher up that lower down. My reasoning is this, if leaders are more likely to fill new openings with people simialr to them then when drawing from a bigger to a smaller pool then there is more chance of finding someone who is more like you. Thus in my ward it is virtually impossible to find anyone who thinks or feels in a similar way to me, and I am probably not that heterodox.
However, across the stake there are a few, across the region quite alot across the Church there is loads. So I would argue that there might be more chance of homogeneity in the higher councils. Maybe this is why I have a hard time remembering the relief society the young women preseidencies, because they all seem very similar. I think that is controversial, we’ll see.
Aaron, that is supported by the nepostism you see in the Salt Lake leadership. They choose the people they are familiar with and see are good leaders. That leaves out a lot of good leaders they don’t see.
Certainly, there is groupthink in the church, but I also see “GroupAppearingThink.” In other words, people appear to conform, but really don’t. they want to hold leadership positions (or just want to belong), so they conform their behavior to it even though they may have other thoughts.
There is certainly also a “profile” of the typical church leader. How many farmers, shop owners, tradesmans are there in the GAs compared to business owners, corporate executives, education executives, attorneys, doctors, etc?
having said that, there is also unity of thought in that we are fairly consistent in our basic beliefs. Nothing wrong with that, I don’t think.
But, there is also this weird paradox, where Joseph Smith urged members to think for themselves against a system that preaches “Follow the Prophet, he knows the way.” EVen though we have the George Albert Smith letter as posted on BCC, there is still the Elaine Cannon (YW Gen Pres 1978), quote that “When the Prophet Speaks, the debate is over” which is still in the YM’s manual. Now, that may mean that the debate among the GAs is over, but what about the members? is the quote being used properly.
But I think that that is still a paradox that needs to be addressed. And lastly, GAs and leaders may tell you what the Church teaches, but they can’t tell anyone what to think.
Andrew A. – I think you are talking about suppression and censorship, not groupthink. Of course, I was mixing my concepts in the post as well, so who am I to cast stones? However, I would add that Ahmadinejad has done largely the same thing you are describing, and it doesn’t result in “groupthink,” just oppression and violence.
Groupthink is the result of people’s blind spots because they are all so alike that they lack diverse viewpoints, not that the suppress those viewpoints – the viewpoints are not represented in the first place.
Jeff S.’s question is more on point: “There is certainly also a “profile” of the typical church leader. How many farmers, shop owners, tradesmans are there in the GAs compared to business owners, corporate executives, education executives, attorneys, doctors, etc?” Here are some groups not represented in the highest levels of leadership: women, most non-US nationalities, people under age 55, people who are not financially successful, reformed apostates, non-whites.
OTOH, when you read a book like David O. McKay & the Rise of Modern Mormonism, you see just how different people’s views can be among the 12 and FP, and since the practice is to require a unified consensus among all 15, very few “pronouncements” result. PoF is the most recent one I can think of. However, there are components to PoF that seem a little “groupthink”-ish. I don’t know that they are. It just makes me wonder. Have any of the 15 had a working mother or wife? Have any of them not been the primary breadwinner? Those seem like cultural prescriptions based on norms that could become outdated. Are they the result of groupthink or “God’s way”? Hard to say. Yet, the door is left open in PoF for individual circumstances varying. If we had true groupthink, perhaps “individual circumstances varying” would not have been added.
“Here are some groups not represented in the highest levels of leadership: women, RS, YW and Primary are women, the last time I looked.
most non-US nationalities, FP, 33%; Q12, 0%; P70, 28.6%; 1Q70, 40.4%; 2Q70, 9.1%; AA70; 65.3%, PB, 0%. Doesn’t look to be the case, really.
people under age 55, probably, but most would have families at home, but Monson and others were called before 55
people who are not financially successful, Probably
reformed apostates, How would you know?
non-whites.” if you are talking non-Caucasian, maybe, but most Hispanics with European origins are actually white.
“Have any of the 15 had a working mother or wife?” We’ve heard Elder Oaks talk about his widowed mother many times having to work and raise her family. I am sure there are others including working mothers, like school teachers, etc.
The PoF was about 4 years in the drafting according to Elder Holland.
Jeff – I was talking about the 15 apostles, prophets, seers & revelators. We don’t get pronouncements or policies from the 70, the auxilliary presidencies, etc., as they are under the leadership of the 15. They are not in the “group.” A group that is capable of groupthink has to be a decision-making or policy-making body. You could look at the RS presidency as one group, the YW presidency as another group, etc. Separation of the sexes in these leadership groups actually reinforces the point that groupthink is a risk, but when it’s women leading women (or men leading men), that’s less an issue than men leading both men and women.
“The PoF was about 4 years in the drafting according to Elder Holland.” That’s the unanimity policy at work, which is a good balance against groupthink as I pointed out.
“A group that is capable of groupthink has to be a decision-making or policy-making body.” Can’t say that I agree with this. The Islamic fundamentalists, to me, are a good example of groupthink and they have no power other than violence.
“The Islamic fundamentalists, to me, are a good example of groupthink and they have no power other than violence.” They are a good example of oppression and suppressing dissension. Groupthink specifically refers to a group’s decision-making process. So, Islamic fundamentalists could be operating under groupthink IF you are referring to a group of their leaders that are all alike and therefore don’t have diverse viewpoints represented (which is probably true), but not specifically because they censor the opinions they don’t like or use violence to enforce their policies. Violence, in fact, could be evidence of dissenting opinion – you don’t have to use threats and violence to enforce policies that no one disagrees with.
“but not specifically because they censor the opinions they don’t like or use violence to enforce their policies. Violence, in fact, could be evidence of dissenting opinion – you don’t have to use threats and violence to enforce policies that no one disagrees with.”
I think it is because as a group they seem to believe unilaterally that the “end justifies the means.” Not that they are trying to convince others they are right. As far as they are concerned they are right and it doesn’t matter what others think about it.
“I think it is because as a group they seem to believe unilaterally that the “end justifies the means.” Not that they are trying to convince others they are right. As far as they are concerned they are right and it doesn’t matter what others think about it.” Well, that is for darn sure! I think we are mostly in agreement, just using the term groupthink differently.
To go further with the definition of groupthink; Wikipedia says:
“Group members try to minimize conflict and reach a consensus decision without critical evaluation of alternative viewpoints, by actively suppressing dissenting viewpoints, and by isolating themselves from outside influences.”
So, are you so afraid of having your faith challenged that you refuse to educate yourself? Does this close-mindedness strengthen or weaken your faith?
What happens when leaders of the Mormon church participate in this groupthink?
What happens when new members try to fit in to this mentality and be accepted into the fold?
Can the spectrum of the extremists you mentioned all exist within the same group?