Politics: Ancient and Modern

ARKHON/archon/ἄρχων: ruler, lord or chief magistrate

Thus Athens went from strength to strength, and proved, if proof were needed, how noble a thing equality before the law is, not in one respect only, but in all.

Herodotus The Histories (V:78)

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The failure to address issues of Groupthink and Cognitive Biases will undermine the output of any forum for political decision-making. Such forums should, therefore, expect their participants to: 1)      Conduct themselves in a manner that helps mitigate against Groupthink; notably participants should avoid: a)       Belief in the morality of a cause without question; b)      The placing of pressure on individuals to conform, and by not seeing questioning as disloyal or heretical; c)       The suppression of ideas through failing to discourage self-censorship; d)      The interpretation of silence as consent; e)      Using people and processes to suppress dissenting and inconvenient information; f)        The stereotyping of opponents or other groups as evil or stupid; g)       Encouraging a sense of invulnerability that leads to unnecessary risks being taken; h)      Ignoring warnings of failure through engaging in collective rationalisation. 2)      Acknowledge the potential impacts of cognitive biases, especially: a)       Confirmation bias – whereby there is a tendency to seek information that confirms preconceptions but discounts contradicting information; b)      Self-serving bias – whereby there is a tendency to emphasise one’s own personal or group successes rather than failures; c)       Ingroup Bias – whereby there is a tendency to overestimate the capabilities of one’s own group and underestimate its limitations; d)      Belief bias – whereby logic is overridden by belief in a conclusion; e)      Projection Bias – whereby there is a tendency to think others think like you; f)        The Bandwagon effect – whereby there is a tendency to act as others around you do; g)       The Halo effect – whereby perceptions of somebody’s capabilities or opinions are influenced by unconnected facts such as celebrity status; h)      Availability heuristic – whereby there is a tendency to draw conclusions based on more memorable events whilst possibly overlooking more pertinent events. 3)      Conduct themselves in a manner that fosters civil debate by: a)       Being courteous to others; b)      Speaking truthfully and neither misrepresenting facts, words and actions, nor deliberately citing them out of context.