Going against the Grain

Popular opinion, like-mindedness, reference groups, groupthink (diffusion of responsibility), stereotypes, herd (mob) mentality

Reference groups are used in order to evaluate and determine the nature of a given individual or other group’s characteristics and sociological attributes. It is the group to which the individual relates or aspires to relate himself or herself psychologically. It becomes the individual’s frame of reference and source for ordering his or her experiences, perceptions, cognition, and ideas of self. It is important for determining a person’s self-identity, attitudes, and social ties. It becomes the basis of reference in making comparisons or contrasts and in evaluating one’s appearance and performance.

Reference groups provide the benchmarks and contrast needed for comparison and evaluation of group and personal characteristics. Robert K. Merton hypothesized that individuals compare themselves with reference groups of people who occupy the social role to which the individual aspires. Source: here

Popular opinion definition according to Free Dictionary.com – a belief or sentiment shared by most people; the voice of the people.

Like-mindedness is defined by Webster as – having a like disposition or purpose : of the same mind or habit of thought.

Groupthink is defined as – a pattern of thought characterized by self-deception, forced manufacture of consent, and conformity to group values and ethics.

Groupthink occurs when each of the individuals comprising a group desires and cares more about reaching consensus and total agreement than critically examining, understanding, and utilizing information.

Engaging in groupthink seeks to avoid any possible conflict or disagreement when making any decisions or actions, preferring compromises that may not be thought through to well-thought out arguments that do not receive unanimous approval from the group. Thus, groupthink cannot lead to the best decisions or solutions. Groupthink occurs when the group members are familiar with each other and seek each other’s approval, especially in stressful situations. The diffusion of responsibility contributes to groupthink as when the diffusion of responsibility is occurring within a group, each group member feels less of a responsibility to express his or her own opinions or ideas, which leads to groupthink. Thus, when diffusion of responsibility occurs within groups, groupthink is also much more likely to occur. Source: here

Herd (mob) mentality describes how people can be influenced by their peers to adopt certain behaviors on a largely emotional, rather than rational, basis. When individuals are affected by mob mentality, they may make different decisions than they would have individually.

Stereotype in social psychology, a stereotype is an over-generalized belief about a particular category of people. It is an expectation that people might have about every person of a particular group. The type of expectation can vary; it can be, for example, an expectation about the group’s personality, preferences, or ability.

Stereotypes are generalized because one assumes that the stereotype is true for each individual person in the category. While such generalizations may be useful when making quick decisions, they may be erroneous when applied to particular individuals.Stereotypes lead to social categorization, which is one of the reasons for prejudice attitudes, and may arise for a number of reasons. Source: here


I read this book a few years back titled the Consequences of Ideas by R.C. Sproul. The title alone had grabbed my attention. In it, Sproul delved into the philosophers and theologians that have pretty much framed our way of thinking. Sproul was known an advocate for Thomas Aquinas theology and Calvanism. He, was a staunch critic of the Roman Catholic Church and Catholic theology, denounced the 1994 ecumenical document Evangelicals and Catholics Together. He was described as “the greatest and most influential proponent of the recovery of Reformed theology in the last century.”  Source: here

This book is not for average reader. It has just enough convoluted language to turn off more than a few readers and not enough for the academic mind. It’s one of millions of books that has been written to help Christians understand something – they did not understand before. Seriously, it was the title that pique my interest.

As I was searching for another book, once again, the title of the book grabbed my attention. I had been having a discussion with my husband about this very topic, so it was a good time to blog about it. It was the whole notion of thought and ideas, that got my thoughts swirling. Why? Well, this country of ours is divided on so many issues, on so many levels. Nobody is right and nobody is wrong. As Americans we have certain individual rights. To disagree is a big one. We have the right to express opinions. And depending on the author, some opinions and ideas carry more weight than others. And that has always been the case – it’s just far worse today.

Today, the question is – “In this great nation who controls the flow of ideas, thoughts, perspective?” The media? I am fully convinced of that (that’s been the trend since I can remember). We are not so much influenced by past minds as we are by today’s media/social media outlets  – whatever form they take, real or fake. I don’t think to many people would disagree. I tend to believe that today’s sound bites (whatever the source) have replaced yesterday’s words of wisdom.

Today, there are millions of people that have taken to the “air waves” to express their opinions, to have their voice heard. No holds bar makes for a million followers. Even church sermons are not original. I remember the first time my husband heard a sermon at Sunday service that he had just seen on television, almost word for word. Do you know you can download sermons online? It begs the question, does anyone hear from God anymore? Does anyone have an independent thought? Are we allowing our thoughts to be manipulated by a force not of God, or purporting to be of God? Do we just regurgitate what we hear or read online? Does anyone read the Bible? Are we experiencing what was written about in 2 Timothy?

2 Timothy 3 (NKJV)

But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away! For of this sort are those who creep into households and make captives of gullible women loaded down with sins, led away by various lusts, always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. Now as Jannes and Jambres resisted Moses, so do these also resist the truth: men of corrupt minds, disapproved concerning the faith; but they will progress no further, for their folly will be manifest to all, as theirs also was.

But you have carefully followed my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, love, perseverance, persecutions, afflictions, which happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium, at Lystra—what persecutions I endured. And out of them all the Lord delivered me. Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution. But evil men and impostors will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived. But you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them, and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.

All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.

Roman 8: 12-14 “Therefore, brethren, we are debtors—not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. For if you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.

Going against the grain can be very difficult, because it conflicts with the shared ideas one has with the group, or groups with whom one identifies. I can’t speak for anyone but myself. I tell my husband and my children that they need to read and meditate on the Word. That’s the only way believers are able to recognize the voice of God – to discern the things of God.

1 John 4:1 (NKJV)
“Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world.”

Galatians 5:1 (NKJV)
“Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage.”

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