The Dark Side of Group Loyalty – Bias and Fallacies

If you are promoting the value of loyalty, it may be that you need to promote other values at the same time, like fairness and integrity. As effective as loyalty can be in promoting other positive behaviors, Loyalty in isolation can be a dark thing.
– Angus Hildreth’s comments, Group Loyalty

The Information Age has given us access to incredible amounts of data and opinion, but also vast numbers of Biased Reports and False Narratives… and an Uncivil Outrage that is triggered when people are unwilling to look beyond the easy facade of their Loyalty and Bias.

How culpable are politicians and the media in stirring the flames of anger? What is the role of Social Media?  How do YOU know when mountains of bias are covering a more accurate truth? Here are just a few ideas that could help you to be more informed and less manipulated.

Be Cautious of Statistics

The Four M’s of Statistics –  they can be Manipulated, Mismanaged, Misrepresented and Massaged by officials and other groups to promote their agendas. Does the argument still hold true if you eliminate the statistic that is propping it up?

Ignore The Ad Hominem or Personal attack

This is when a writer attacks the opposition’s intelligence, morals, education, professional qualifications, personal character or reputation with derogatory  Name-Calling. This type of writer may also use  The “F-Bomb” to defend or strengthen the argument with crude or profane language.

Check for ‘The Repetitive Lie’

Look  for the lie, fallacy, slogan, or deceptive half-truth that is repeated over and over until people accept it without real proof or evidence. Brief phrases or slogans such as “The 1%”  “Big Oil” or  “Big Pharma”  trigger a feeding-frenzy that is not necessarily supported by the balance of evidence.

Be wary of Guilt by Association

A writer may refute someone’s standpoint by associating them with  a group, party, religion or race on the premise that everyone in that group is the same. This is also a tactic used when people are labelled as being racist, sexist, etc in an attempt to shame them.

Don’t be Taken in by Infotainment and Star Power

Infotainment is when entertainers deliberately mix facts, news, falsities and outright lies with entertainment.  This  includes endorsements by a well-known figure who is not an expert.

These are just a few of the more obvious tactics that suggest that the information might be biased and  you are not being told ‘the rest of the story’.

As social justice advocates have come to dominate Western culture, they’ve created a situation where interlocutors are more intent on burnishing their adherence to the correct opinions than they are about discovering something new, learning the truth, or even engaging in open and reciprocal dialogue.
– Uri Harris, Quillette, January 17, 2018 –

This post was prompted by conversations I have had with basically good folks who are deeply committed to their political party (which isn’t in power). They cannot stand the leader of the elected party and say disparaging things about elected representatives of that party.  They cannot think of a single positive thing that the opposing party has done – ever.

I don’t presume to think that I can say anything that would change their minds. I do think, though, that I can lend my voice to a growing movement that supports the need for civility across party lines. I don’t think this ‘shame and blame’ rhetoric from an intolerant tribe is the path to strong, cohesive communities.

8 thoughts on “The Dark Side of Group Loyalty – Bias and Fallacies

  1. I’ve been trying to come up with a way to write a post about this very subject. I find far too many people are adhering to /following a “belief” in someone/something without any kind of research or background on what they are proclaiming to believe in. Where does it stop? When do people start (re) applying common sense and balanced judgment to their “rants” on social media? When do we accept (as a society) that different beliefs/opinions are simply THAT – differing opinions and beliefs – not some threat to our moral well being or existence as a species? We can’t all be “right” or “wrong”; we need variance in order to progress as a society. Taking “sides” isn’t getting us anywhere. It sickens me to see where we’re headed.


    • Where does it stop? Good question. It is why I think we have to stand up for civil discourse. We have to distance ourselves from identity politics and speak up for the basic values we probably share if we actually listen to one another.

      I have politely pointed out to a few of my more unhinged Democrat friends that our governments (Canadian and American) need to alternate between left and right because that is what keeps them from going off towards their respective deep ends!

      Speaking of deep ends, I did find an interesting theory of government that suggests the straight line from far left to far right is more like a horseshoe because communism and fascism – two opposite end ideologies – actually look quite similar.


      • I’ve always failed to understand why people seem to think you must be on one “side” or the other. Can’t they see that there are pros and cons to ALL ideologies; that “middle ground” makes the most sense? That’s the way I was raised (my father was a bit of a s*** disturber and local/area politician who rocked the boat many, many times in many, many ways, but he always listened to the views of others and considered them when pursuing the “rights of the little guy”). What really concerns me is that if you post something online that someone else doesn’t agree with 100%, you get flamed and called all sorts of names (which is why I try to keep my big mouth shut about most things); I suspect its the same in public venues (which I tend to avoid these days). Its a very sad world we live in nowadays and I worry that its all going to end very, very badly if we don’t smarten up.


  2. Amen.

    I used to think that the purpose of government was to safeguard the well-being of the people it serves. Now I realize I was just naive. If it was true, the vast majority of ugliness we see and read would not exist. It’s always tone from the top and that tone has sadly deteriorated. The personal attacks in lieu of thoughtful critiques of policy are the worst.


    • When I look at history, I realize that political civility has often much worse. Yet, it has sometimes been the most outrageous leaders who have accomplished the most. Alberta had Ralph Klein, who as mayor of Calgary called the suspected criminal element from down east “bums” and “creeps” and called on city police to “kick ass” and get them out of town. Ralph went on to become Alberta’s Premier, a position he held for 14 years. His government eliminated the debt and deficit. Klein, a hard drinking, former newspaper reporter, was made an Officer of the Order of Canada.


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