CHAOSTOCOSMOS

Tuesday, 7 March 2006

Authority can all too easily pressure good people into doing nothing

Interesting discussion by Terry Prone in the Irish Examiner. The Tenerife air disaster gets a mention. Cats get a mention too, but those are not the prime reasons drawing your attention to the article.

It actually discusses the psychological factors (authority and collegiality) that persuade "ordinary decent folk" into doing some quite shocking things or, into doing nothing about situations where they NEED to speak up.

I learned something about these phenomena when I attended a part-time course in psychology at Birmingham University in England. It is an interesting paradox of human nature that, at once, gives us the "bravado" to take risks in groups and yet, at the same time makes us feel puny and powerless against "leaders".

Individually, we are well aware of the morals of the case and may be asking "Why doesn't somebody DO something?" about a bad boss, a negligent doctor, a lying president ... While, collectively, we are terrorized into inaction.

The question is, how can this human nature be channelled and more potential whistle-blowers be reassured into taking more appropriate action?

Authority can all too easily pressure good people into doing nothing

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