Note: This was wrtten by Christopher Chavasse of Ronan
Mr. Chavasse explains “availability cascade” as it applies to the Flathead Reservation Water Compact, but it also explains other “group think” evident in today’s society.
What is availability cascade? Why, it’s the compact and the WUA. If you think that the compact and the WUA is some sort of new twist: No. It has been described (developed) and fully documented and taught in political science and law schools by both its authors, to wit: Timur Kuran and Cass Sunstein (Cass Sunstein has been characterized by some, as the “most dangerous man” in the White House). Just so you know that what has been laid out in front of you has a structured name and is taught at Harvard and Yale.
An availability cascade is a self-reinforcing cycle that explains the development of certain kinds of collective beliefs. A novel idea or insight, usually one that seems to explain a complex process in a simple or straightforward manner, gains rapid currency in the popular discourse by its very simplicity and by its apparent insightfulness. Its rising popularity triggers a chain reaction within the social network: individuals adopt the new insight because other people within the network have adopted it, and on its face it seems plausible. The reason for this increased use and popularity of the new idea involves both the availability of the previously obscure term or idea, and the need of individuals using the term or idea to appear to be current with the stated beliefs and ideas of others, regardless of whether they in fact fully believe in the idea that they are expressing. Their need for social acceptance, and the apparent sophistication of the new insight, overwhelm their critical thinking.
The above paragraph is not my words. It is a condensation of explanations of what is academically known as “availability cascade.” Somehow it brings to my mind certain politicians and “players” in the water compact. I hope that I am not asking you to think too hard, and maybe read. Don’t just fall down the cascade.
Post Script by Diane Speer: Psychological Theory–When something is being repeated over and over again, it must be true. Right?