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Word Count: 1,109
Neither the Branch Davidians nor the ATF nor the FBI were composed of or led by stupid persons Yet at Waco all of these groups made extremely bad decisions One reason for the high-risk low-quality decisions of the Branch Davidians ATF and FBI is that these groups of intelligent individuals could collectively make decisions much worse than the individuals might have made if they had decided alone Many of the factors leading to groupthink were present on all sides at Waco First in groups that are vulnerable to groupthink group members tend to value the group above everything else The social isolation of law enforcement officers from the non-police community has been documented by many researchers123 Unquestioning adherence to group norms is likely all the higher in special high-prestige law enforcement groups such as the FBI the HRT or the Special Response Teams the BATF versions of the HRT The Branch Davidians of course explicitly saw their church as the only good thing in a Babylonian World permeated by sinp644Groupthinking groups tend to have certain structural flaws insularity no tradition of impartial leadership no norms requiring methodical decision-making and a homogeneous background for their members The militaristic HRT and SRTs heavily drawn from ex-military personnel had these flaws as did the BATF and the FBI While the Branch Davidians were highly heterogeneous in terms of race nationality and social background they were intensely homogeneous in their ideologyGroups likely to suffer from groupthink often overestimate their groups morality and invulnerability while also stereotyping out-groups The Branch Davidians thought themselves the only righteous people in the world thought themselves invulnerable if God wanted them to be invulnerable and stereotyped their adversaries as the Babylonian tools of Satan Conversely the FBI and BATF stereotyped their adversaries as cultists and acted as if resistance to the armed might of the government were inherently immoralGroupthink tends to produce self-censorship among the dissenters as when FBI behavioral psychologist Peter Smerick changed
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