Dominic Cummings repeatedly used this dubious term – but it obscures the real reasons why bad decisions were made
• Stephen Reicher and John Drury are participants in the Sage subcommittee advising on behavioural science
In the seven hours of evidence he gave at the Houses of Commons, Dominic Cummings mounted a systematic attack on the decisions of the government and its scientific advisory groups during the pandemic.
These decisions, he repeatedly suggested, were a result of “groupthink”. Cummings used the term 15 times (and his questioners used it a further seven). It was applied to the government in general, to the Department of Health and to Sage. It was used to explain the delay in understanding the threat posed by the virus, in locking down, in closing borders, in building a testing system, in developing vaccines – in fact, according to Cummings, groupthink was the culprit for pretty much all the failures of decision-making that led to tens of thousands of unnecessary deaths.
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