Sunday, September 21, 2014

The Bandwagon

A defining precept of COG membership is daily reading of the group's publications. These are considered the "spiritual food" that "newborn babes" in Christ need to grow. Even in my naive mindset, I felt that many of these publications were strange, yet I didn't voice these opinions, but rather kept my "doubts" to myself. Why?

No one else was objecting. Others seemed to think these publications were great. Who was I to question? After all, "I am a worm and no man" (Psalm 22:6). Who was I to doubt my "elders in the Lord"?

This may sound incredibly stupid, but it is a blatantly clear example of the phenomenon has been demonstrated in psychological experiments and falls under various categories. For simplicity, let's just take a look at "the bandwagon effect," as demonstrated by Solomon Asch in the 1950s. He experimented with a group of confederates (actors hired for the research project) and one unwitting volunteer. Placed in a room where the confederates unitedly gave the wrong answer, in the vast majority of experiments, the volunteer went along with the others giving the wrong answer - even in spite of misgivings. This experiment has been replicated many times and the results have confirmed these findings.

How much more would this occur in the atmosphere provided by the COG? New converts are told they must learn everything afresh, even going so far as calling new members "babes." They are taught to look to their leaders as sheep look to a shepherd. "Forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus." (Philippians 3:13,14)

(Regarding the bandwagon effect research, my personal favorite is the The Smoke-filled Room.  This link takes you to a very brief synopsis of the study.)

1 comment:

  1. The Bandwagon Effect is a very interesting study.