The two perspectives of group intelligence

Browsing the category intelligence among wordpress blogs, I stumbled over a group intelligence article and following link after link I ended up at an article from Harvard Business Magazine. The quote worth discussing goes:

Drawing on that insight, we advised the center’s manager to revise the employees’ coffee break schedule so that everyone on a team took a break at the same time. That would allow people more time to socialize with their teammates, away from their workstations.

That’s meant to be rocket science from Harvard: A team’s productivity may be increase by increasing coffee break communication. Take a coffee break to let it sink in.

Let’s imagine employees using their coffee breaks to communicate ideas how to demand more coffee brakes (and ultimately more salary for better efficiency). Let’s imagine team members coming up with better drugs to enhance socialization. Vodka for that purpose has highly valued properties, or what’s about qat.

All that is not new of course. Social communication and drugs that enhance it has been used since time immemorial to influence people, to manipulate them to cajole them into doing things that otherwise they would refuse to do with enthusiasm. I reported of beer used to motivated workers at the pyramids. There are more recent examples. Nazi Germany used amphetamine enriched chocolate to enhance bomber pilot’s tolerance to all the destruction and killing that they caused by their planes. Russian red army soldiers were filled up with booze before sending them into a desperate mission.

German pilots

German pilots received special amphetamine enriched chocolate before takeoff to destructive missions in WW2

On the other hand, let’s imagine genius mathematicians like Gauss or musicians like Glinka being forced into coffee breaks to socialize with mediocre teammates. Which improvement would cause this communication?

It is not new of course, geniuses also need a social environment as much as they need a proper biological environment, including food and sex. Gauss found such a favorable social environment as described in this book. Probably, if he had not found so many supporters of his education, he would not have reached that level of sophistication. The same holds true if he were starving.

Discussing the phenomenon of group intelligence two things are inadvertently or intentionally mixed, but there is a fine line between a group being lured by social incentives and a group forming a favorable environment for some genius to develop.

From fauceir perspective it is the question of who enslaves whom. The first is the enslavement of humans by society the second is the enslavement of the society by human minds. Don’t ask which side I prefer to take.

Creative Commons License

This work by Paul Netman is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.

Fauceir theory is developed and © by Mato Nagel and available at


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