A few years ago, when groupthink was one of the issues in my classes, I could hardly have imagined that one day I would visit Bay of Pigs. But only by reading up to the end could you understand the connection between these two topics.

I did not snorkel which is the typical activity on the beaches around this area, Bay of Pigs, did not even enter into the museum where the historical events are shown. On the contrary we, my friends and I, had an interesting conversation with a man who was selling souvenirs in the vicinity. It wasn?t the historical events but the present time on the island that we commented about after we had bought some of the goods displayed. He was more interested in the future than in the past.

The Bay of Pigs disaster, or in other words, the failed invasion of Castro?s Cuba in 1961 was used as an example by Irving Janis to explain groupthink. Brigade 2506, a counter-revolutionary military trained and funded by CIA, intended to overthrow the communist government of Fidel Castro. However, the invading force was defeated within three days by the Cuban Revolutionary Armed Forces, under the direct command of Prime Minister Fidel Castro.

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This event was the primary case study that Janis used to formulate his theory of groupthink and some of the symptoms he identified appeared in it. Namely, illusions of invulnerability, unquestioned belief in the morality of the group; rationalizing warnings; stereotyping those who are opposed to the group as weak, evil or even stupid; self-censorship of ideas that deviate from the apparent group consensus and illusions of unanimity; just to name a few. Apart from the symptoms, Janis also identifies causes, consequences and how it can be prevented.

It is beyond the scope of this post to go further the historical events referred above, or the theory developed by Janis; so let me only point out that the results of groupthink is a bad decision that could have been avoided just allowing each member of the group to express themselves freely.

Have you ever be involved in a final decision that nobody agree with but it look like a consensual one?

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