Tuesday, 13 September 2016

The "cultural heritage" group neurosis 19: GroupThink analysis and examples (ix)

"¿De qué mal morirá?" (What will he die from?)
Francisco Goya (1746–1828), Los Caprichos (40)
For the GroupThink chart, see section (i) in 31st August post

Box D: Symptoms of Defective Decision Making

1. Incomplete survey of alternatives.

2. Incomplete survey of objectives.

3. Failure to examine risks of preferred choice.

4. Failure to reappraise rejected choices.

5. Poor information search.

6. Selective information bias.

7. Failure to contingency plan.

Sometimes the treatment is worse than the complaint. Box D posits a relatively ordered situation and then reveals the manifestations of GroupThink which confound the result. In our situation, not only are the mechanics of cultural heritage misunderstood because it was engineered as newspeak, but the word culture is given the outdated nationalist meaning, and not even the also outdated ethnic meaning (as far as UNESCO is concerned, it is entirely up to the political leadership of any nation which ethnic groups are protected and which are neglected or even destroyed). We have seen how Celtic culture was defined from an outside perspective using criteria where "faulty" would be a compliment. For example, it was stated that as the British had round houses and the Gauls had rectangular houses the British were not Celts. It was not stated, however, that the traditions of these forms of houses pre-dated the La Tène Celtic cultures by thousands of years. But GroupThink creates gullibility and people bought it. So a common Celtic language was dismissed because language was said not to be a reliable gauge of culture, but house styles were! It got even stranger and there are actually people out there who believe that English was being spoken in Britain before the Romans arrived. All of these cultural definitions can be identified as 6. Selective information bias.

The subheading 2. Incomplete survey of objectives would be better placed as the first consideration in the subject of cultural heritage matters because various groups have different objectives and some of these actually have no bearing on culture except as a means to an end. For example, the United States memoranda of Understanding have the objective (to the State Department) of using cultural matters in order to gain political/economic advantages from other nations. The other party agrees to something which is not revealed to the American people and that is considered a state secret which has been held inviolate by the courts. The American people do not know if they get to set up more military bases in the partnering country or if it is a matter of Monsanto being allowed more freedoms there. Sometimes things leak out, though. A Memorandum of Understanding with Mexico, many years ago was signed so that Mexico would extend its contract with the U.S. to return stolen cars. The terms used in the formation of committees such as "stakeholders" also give an impression of a business bias to the proceedings, but business is just one part of any culture. It is one of a myriad cultural frames and these are often called cultures themselves e.g., "Hip-Hop culture". Sometimes, the business side is emphasized and called an industry. e.g., "the tourist industry". Often though, the larger picture of infrastructure is not well-considered and it has been noted that while tourist money can go to an attraction, when factors such as traffic problems are included, the benefits are not as good as they seemed. Without really knowing the specifics of 2, then 1. Incomplete survey of alternatives, could well follow cultural topics even when culture has nothing at all to do with the motive because it is just one means to the end. Thus, also, 3. Failure to examine risks of preferred choice and  4. Failure to reappraise rejected choices, could well omit some very important data as not only are the various visible options not examined properly, but there are possibly all sorts of other choices that are completely unknown except to a few who are not talking at all.

Subheadings 5. Poor information search, and 6. Selective information bias, could be reversed as any information bias will lead to a poor information search. there is a great example of this with a cultural heritage GroupThink access to archives of photographs of antiquities which had been in the possession of dealers convicted of buying from tomb robbers. These archives are not accessible by auction houses and dealers and are used to force these  business to return such objects to other nations and at the same time give ammunition for their critics to blame them for a lack of "due diligence". The word "entrapment" springs to mind, but the underlying motive is to bring suspicion to trade, because trade focuses on individual possession rather than state possession.

Finally, 7. Failure to contingency plan, must also recognize what actually might then happen if the the chosen plans go through. The view, however is so myopic that contingencies, in our topic, are to things that are also invisible. That will be part of my conclusion to this series which will start tomorrow.

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