Wednesday, 25 February 2009


Solomon Asch conducted experiments that showed how the opinions of others skewed an individuals judgment. Just because several other people stated a view that was contrary to the subjects own opinion, their confidence declined and they tended to agree. There may be good evolutionary reasons for this: conforming to the group allows many people to work together; always making every decision for yourself consumes time and energy and may increase the risks of making a mistake - a mistake that the many minds of the group would have spotted and avoided.

The conformity instinct can drag us away from the hard evidence, as it did in Asch's experiments and others conducted by Richard Crutchfield. This may be another good reason for an Independent Science Commission as a force capable of balancing our gut reactions with incontrovertible evidence.

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