In Search of Truth II: The Dance of Collusion

In Search of Truth II: The Dance of Collusion

The Nature of Collusion

In reflecting on the source and reinforcement of narcissism and the hubris to be found among corona experts, we specifically propose that it is important to acknowledge collusion as a critical contributing factor. While an expert can go quite a way in convincing other people to accept their wisdom and predications, it is equally important for these other people to eagerly embrace this wisdom and the resulting predictions—especially in the anxiety-filled setting that is common today during the pandemic era. A powerful process called collusion is operating when the expert and advice-follower dance together in creating an illusion of knowledge and foresight. Collusion is a complex and often subtle process, typically involving all parties in a relationship or group. Even if a participant is not actively involved in the collusion, the mere acquiescence to the collusion will exacerbate the collusive process. This insight is offered in a famous childhood story about the Emperor wearing no clothes. No one observing the parade route said anything about the emperor’s nudity. It was only the child who spoke up. This is a key point. To simply not say anything about what is happening in front of one’s own eyes is participation in the collusion.

We find this operating, for instance, among those people who witness a crime. All too frequently, no one steps up to interrupt a crime—or even call the police to prevent the crime or enable the police to apprehend the criminal. Researchers have found that when many people observe a crime there is less likelihood that any one person will attempt to break up or report the crime. (Aronson, 2018) The sense of responsibility is distributed among many people and no one person accepts enough share of the responsibility to precipitate action. There is no son-in-law to hold the mirror up to the Don. Everyone is colluding (and in some sense collaborating) in non-action. In many ways, the Corona virus is a crime being observed by the entire world. We are all a bit afraid of questioning the authority of anyone with impressive credentials. After all, who are we to speak up or report the “crime” of inaccurate information and prediction based on the siloed perspective of the expert. Like Echo we withhold our voice.


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About the Author

William BergquistWilliam Bergquist, Ph.D. An international coach and consultant in the fields of psychology, management and public administration, author of more than 50 books, and president of a psychology institute. Dr. Bergquist consults on and writes about personal, group, organizational and societal transitions and transformations. His published work ranges from the personal transitions of men and women in their 50s and the struggles of men and women in recovering from strokes to the experiences of freedom among the men and women of Eastern Europe following the collapse of the Soviet Union. In recent years, Bergquist has focused on the processes of organizational coaching. He is coauthor with Agnes Mura of coachbook, co-founder of the International Journal of Coaching in Organizations and co-founder of the International Consortium for Coaching in Organizations.

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