Affirmative action, critical mass, critical thinking, and groupthink

7 Oct


T. D. Jakes @BishopJakes
Most people’s thoughts are held captive by the influences of their past or held hostage by their environment. Research and think 4 yourself!

Justin Pope of AP has written the interesting article, “Critical mass” key to affirmative action case:

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Walking across the South Mall, or scanning the football stadium’s 100,000 seats on game day, University of Texas admissions director Kedra Ishop sees how much has changed since the 1990s, when she was a black student at what was an inordinately white school.

This giant flagship campus — once so slow to integrate — is now awash in color, among the most diverse in the country if not the world. The student body, like Texas, is majority-minority.

At the dining hall, minority students no longer cluster together. Actually, it’s more a high-end food court now, and many tables are racial mosaics — white, black, Hispanic, Asian.

So is this the “critical mass” of minority students that U.S. Supreme Court narrowly endorsed in 2003 as an educational goal important enough to allow colleges to factor the race of applicants into admissions decisions?

That question will be front and center Wednesday when a more conservative Supreme Court revisits affirmative action for the first time since that landmark case nine years ago involving the University of Michigan.

This time, it’s Texas defending the use of race in admissions, fighting a discrimination lawsuit from Abigail Fisher, a rejected white applicant. As it happens, the court’s decision will affect relatively few students at Texas, which admits most students through a system that doesn’t factor in race. But a broad ruling rolling back affirmative action could be an earthquake at other campuses across the country that make more use of race, potentially changing the educational trajectories of millions of students….

Texas will swallow its pride and argue that for all its progress, it’s still short of critical mass. Under state law, most UT students are admitted automatically based on their high school GPA, with race playing no role. But for the smaller remainder of its class where it enjoys more leeway, Texas argues it should be able to use race as a factor. The reason: Some groups, especially blacks, remain underrepresented compared to Texas’ population. And minority students clump together academically, leaving most classes with no more than a single black or Hispanic voice.

But the university won’t give a target number, something the court would likely call an unconstitutional quota.

“There’s never been a discussion of ‘this is the target, this is what it looks like, this is where we’re trying to go,'” Ishop said. “We know what it doesn’t look like. And we know without the ability to examine students in their completeness that we can get back there very quickly.”

Such arguments sound mushy to UT’s opponents, who call the school’s goals for critical mass a quota in disguise. They say the university has gone too far using race in admissions, abusing the discretion the court granted colleges to define critical mass for themselves.

“It is a squishy concept that’s being manipulated,” said Terence Pell, president of the Center for Individual Rights, which argued against affirmative action in the Michigan case and has filed a brief against Texas in the current one. “It’s just sort of diversity for its own sake,” he added, “with no end and no limit.”

Moi wrote about the Texas case in U.S. Supreme Court to decide the affirmative action case, Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin (Case No. 11-345)

Moi chooses to use the Investing Answers definition of “critical mass” because when one analyzes why “affirmative action” is important to the movement of those from “economically deprived” backgrounds into the mainstream of society, “critical mass” is important.

What It Is:

Critical mass refers to the size a company needs to reach in order to efficiently and competitively participate in the market. This is also the size a company must attain in order to sustain growth and efficiency.

How It Works/Example:

A company’s critical mass is determined by the size of its staff, resources, revenues, and market share. Once these elements reach the size that enables a company to operate efficiently, it is said that a company has reached its critical mass. Critical mass is the point at which a company becomes profitable.

To illustrate a company’s critical mass, consider Company XYZ which was recently formed and has been experiencing steady growth and increasing strength in the market. The company’s steady revenues allowed Company XYZ to invest in more capital and to hire additional employees. XYZ’s productivity subsequently increased and their revenues exceed their expenses: XYZ then becomes profitable. The company is said to have reached its critical mass, since its capital and human resources have reached a size at which they can sustain themselves through productive efficiency.

Why It Matters:

A company’s critical mass is important to consider because it can mean the difference between thriving and surviving in a market environment. A company that sustains profitability is safely above its critical mass.

In Critical thinking is an essential trait of an educated person, moi wrote:

The key is developing the idea that facts should be used to support an opinion.

The Critical Thinking Community has several great articles about critical thinking at their site. In the section, Defining Critical Thinking:

A Definition
Critical thinking is that mode of thinking – about any subject, content, or problem – in which the thinker improves the quality of his or her thinking by skillfully taking charge of the structures inherent in thinking and imposing intellectual standards upon them.

The Result

A well cultivated critical thinker:

  • raises vital questions and problems, formulating them clearly and

  • gathers and assesses relevant information, using abstract ideas to
    interpret it effectively comes to well-reasoned conclusions and solutions, testing them against relevant criteria and standards;

  • thinks openmindedly within alternative systems of thought,
    recognizing and assessing, as need be, their assumptions, implications, and practical consequences; and

  • communicates effectively with others in figuring out solutions to complex problems.

Critical thinking is, in short, self-directed, self-disciplined, self-monitored, and self-corrective thinking. It presupposes assent to rigorous standards of excellence and mindful command of their use. It entails effective communication and problem solving abilities and a commitment to overcome our native egocentrism and sociocentrism.  (Taken from Richard Paul and Linda Elder, The Miniature Guide to Critical Thinking Concepts and Tools, Foundation for Critical Thinking Press, 2008).

Critical mass and education are intertwined if one thinks the critical issue is how to get ethnic groups to fully participate in the political process, especially when their participation in the political process is key to the group’s movement up the economic ladder.

Moi wrote about “group think” in Penn State: An example of ‘groupthink’ The University of Oregon has a great synopsis of “groupthink.”

In Groupthink, the synopsis describes the key elements of “groupthink.”

Groupthink occurs when a homogenous highly cohesive group is so concerned with maintaining unanimity that they fail to evaluate all their alternatives and options. Groupthink members see themselves as part of an in-group working against an outgroup opposed to their goals. You can tell if a group suffers from groupthink if it:

  1. overestimates its invulnerability or high moral stance,

  2. collectively rationalizes the decisions it makes,

  3. demonizes or stereotypes outgroups and their leaders,

  4. has a culture of uniformity where individuals censor themselves and others so that the facade of group unanimty is maintained, and

  5. contains members who take it upon themselves to protect the group leader by keeping information, theirs or other group members’, from the leader.

Groups engaged in group think tend to make faulty decisions when compared to the decisions that could have been reached using a fair, open, and rational decision-making process. Group thinking groups tend to:

  1. fail to adequately determine their objectives and alternatives,

  2. fail to adequately assess the risks associated with the group’s decision,

  3. fail to cycle through discarded alternatives to reexamine their worth after a majority of the group discarded the alternative,

  4. not seek expert advice,

  5. select and use only information that supports their position and conclusions, and

  6. does not make contigency plans in case their decision and resulting actions fail. 

The concepts “Affirmative Action,” “Critical Mass,” “Critical Thinking,” and “Group Think” are important when one analyzes the Black experience in politics.

Moi wrote in As a Black, moi asks: Are Black leaders stuck on stupid? Well duh, it is called survival of the fittest and it relies on adaptation to changing circumstances. Moi hates to get all Machiavelli on you, but the enemy of my enemy is my friend.”

Here is some interesting data from Fact Check.Org:

For how long have the Democrats garnered the black vote? Certainly there was a point during the last century when a majority of blacks started supporting the Democrats rather than Republicans. What has been the voting pattern and what happened to change that pattern?


Blacks mostly voted Republican from after the Civil War and through the early part of the 20th century. That’s not surprising when one considers that Abraham Lincoln was the first Republican president, and the white, segregationist politicians who governed Southern states in those days were Democrats. The Democratic Party didn’t welcome blacks then, and it wasn’t until 1924 that blacks were even permitted to attend Democratic conventions in any official capacity. Most blacks lived in the South, where they were mostly prevented from voting at all.

The election of Roosevelt in 1932 marked the beginning of a change. He got 71 percent of the black vote for president in 1936 and did nearly that well in the next two elections, according to historical figures kept by the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies. But even then, the number of blacks identifying themselves as Republicans was about the same as the number who thought of themselves as Democrats.

It wasn’t until Harry Truman garnered 77 percent of the black vote in 1948 that a majority of blacks reported that they thought of themselves as Democrats. Earlier that year Truman had issued an order desegregating the armed services and an executive order setting up regulations against racial bias in federal employment.

Even after that, Republican nominees continued to get a large slice of the black vote for several elections. Dwight D. Eisenhower got 39 percent in 1956, and Richard Nixon got 32 percent in his narrow loss to John F. Kennedy in 1960.

But then President Lyndon B. Johnson pushed through the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964 (outlawing segregation in public places) and his eventual Republican opponent, Sen. Barry Goldwater, opposed it. Johnson got 94 percent of the black vote that year, still a record for any presidential election.

The following year Johnson signed the 1965 Voting Rights Act. No Republican presidential candidate has gotten more than 15 percent of the black vote since.

Footnote: Younger African American voters have been edging away from the Democratic Party in recent years. David Bositis of the Joint Center notes “a fairly long-term pattern of decreasing identification with the Democrats by younger African Americans.” Of course, it remains to be seen what the 2008 campaign will bring.

Since elections are about the future as much as the past, Here is the National Poverty Center’s statistics for child poverty:

How many children live in poverty?[3]

Children represent a disproportionate share of the poor in the United States; they are 24 percent of the total population, but 36 percent of the poor population. In 2010, 16.4 million children, or 22.0 percent, were poor. The poverty rate for children also varies substantially by race and Hispanic origin, as shown in the table below[4].

Children Under 18 Living in Poverty, 2010


Number (in thousands)


All children under 18

16, 401


White only, non-Hispanic












SOURCE: U.S. Bureau of the Census, Income, Poverty, and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2010, Report P60, n. 238, Table B-2, pp. 68-73.

This brings us back to the question moi posed at the beginning of this post: Are Black leaders stuck on stupid. It appears to moi that just about every other interest group is adapting for their survival.

If everyone is thinking alike, then somebody isn’t thinking.
George S. Patton

The Texas case is important because it supports the type of “critical mass “which will open doors to significantly more “critical thinking” in ethnic communities and hopefully, less “group think.”

Blogs by Dr. Wilda:


Dr. Wilda Reviews ©                     

Dr. Wilda ©                                                                        


2 Responses to “Affirmative action, critical mass, critical thinking, and groupthink”


  1. Stacy Dash: Does ‘Black’ mean you can’t think for yourself and have no First Amendment rights? « Comments From An Old Fart - October 8, 2012

    […] Affirmative action, critical mass, critical thinking, and groupthink                                  … […]

  2. Sean ‘Diddy’ Combs is Black, are his children deprived? « Comments From An Old Fart - October 11, 2012

    […] Affirmative action, critical mass, critical thinking, and groupthink                                        … […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: