Another day, another midterm to proctor. Beats working for a living.
It's my Supervision class' midterm that I'm supervising, and we had some interesting discussion on our chapter on decision-making that we covered pre-exam, ranging from restaurants and satisficing (getting good leads on two local mom-and-pops, Bella Notte [which brings back way too many Lady and the Tramp images] and Cozy Burger), brainstorming (would the Pet Rock gotten through a normal corporate meeting?) and groupthink.
Interestingly, the textbook ragged on satisficing, where you make a limited-choice decision which may not be the best decision but a good enough one. The book called it "bounded rationality" instead. That attitude makes sense if we're talking about a big decision, where you need to cast the net further than the usual suspects, but such boundedness might make perfect sense if you have a low-impact, one-off decision.
For instance, there are plenty of good restaurants in Lexington, but if you were buzzing by on I-75 going through Kentucky to points beyond, you'd likely just hit whatever name-brand restaurant was near an exit; unless you get a kick out of discovering restaurants, you're not going to do that much research on a one-time pit stop.
The other topic that brought some politics to mind was on groupthink. One can make a case that there was a bit of groupthink in the Bush administration over Iraq, that the critics were both afraid to get in the way of the neocons who were itching to get Saddam and accustomed to look down upon a cautious, critical, diplomatic approach to things as typical Foggy Bottom wimpiness.
That's not to say that it wasn't the right call, but that critics weren't getting as good a hearing as they should have in 20/20 hindsight. The critics might have been both afraid to go against the grain and also felt that the critics were wrong by definition; in politics, you automatically discount what the opposition is saying, lest you grant the possibility that they might actually be right on occasion.
The other aspect of groupthink comes in when you're in a homogeneous group where "everyone thinks the same way about [fill in the topic]." Big-city newsrooms and liberal cultural stands would be one example; regardless of gender or ethnicity, most everyone's underchurched and to the left on abortion, gay rights and other such issues. Since "everyone they know" is a good liberal, it makes conservative stands on those issues seem radical.
In fairness, there are some of my circles where the reverse is true; if you run in a conservative crowd and everyone has a certain viewpoint, it makes the liberal alternatives look radical.
One of the nice things about reading blogs is that it give you a diversity of opinion that you may not get in your circle of friends and colleagues. I've learned a lot about earnest and devout Catholic faith from Catholic bloggers, stuff you would not get from the cadre of ex-Catholics in my evangelical circles for whom Catholic-bashing is often a favorite parlor game. I also get from folks like Bene and the Connexions crew a center-left Christian take that often shows the weak points of a standard conservative take on things.
Diversity helps making better decisions. Even if you don't agree all the time with folks, they often can inform you and help you get a broader view of the world.