Are People Mindless Sheep?
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Are People Mindless Sheep?

I'm not actually suggesting that people don't have a mind, or that they are actually sheep, I'm just exploring the metaphorical implication of this statement. Feel free to disagree with my thoughts in a comment, but try to say something original, if you think that you possibly can do that.

It's a fair question, or I think so anyway. Are people mindless sheep? What makes a person do the things they do, other than their genetics and environment?

Are we programmed by instincts to live our lives the way we do, or is it a basic instinct in human beings to copy the actions and thoughts of those around us?

Do human beings have instincts? If you grow up an a world that tells you that the world is flat, or that you think with your heart rather than your brain, how many people are likely to disagree?

How about people who take a stand, and do things outside the conventional ways of doing things? What about people who think differently, and question the supposed righteousness of commonly held beliefs?

The people who were right in questioning are often called great men, because they helped us to see that the vast majority was wrong, and it was right to oppose those false beliefs. 

At the time, they were often treated with contempt, and even persecuted, or called heretics for questioning the way things were done. 

For those who were wrong to question, they were also treated with contempt, and are forgotten about today. So we have this situation where anyone who tries to advance the human race in it's knowledge is looked down upon, because once we know something is true, we are very hesitant to go back and verify the facts.

Mindless Sheep

OK, so maybe all people aren't mindless sheep, but there does seem to be a common element among the vast majority of the population to accept the popular opinion, and the popular way of living, so as to fit in with the group. 

An interesting experiment was conducted with monkeys, in which a ladder was placed in the cage, with a banana on top. Whenever one of the monkeys tried to climb up and eat the banana, the rest were sprayed with freezing cold water. 

The monkeys learned to beat up whichever one was trying to climb the ladder, to avoid the cold shower. Then they replaced one of the monkeys with another one, and when he tried to climb the ladder, the rest of the group beat him up, even though there was no water being sprayed. 

Then they gradually replaced all of the monkeys one by one, and at the end, there were no monkeys left that had been sprayed with water, but whenever one of them tried to climb the ladder, they would beat them up. 

What is the thinking behind this? It's something like "that's the way things are done around here". Could this same experiment be done on humans, in a slightly more sophisticated way? 

It has been done, many times, and there are examples of it all through history that I won't go into here. Are people mindless sheep? They can be, and it's important to keep an open mind, and to question the logic of the day. 

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Comments (5)

I enjoyed this Rowan. Yes I think people are sheep, and that most of our instinctual traits, which we certainly do have, are so underused, as to be rendered obsolete by many.

That is a great story about the monkeys. I don't agree that most people are sheep - but certainly many teenagers might fall into that category.

I have sheep, I assure you they are NOT mindless. People think sheep are stupid, without thought, or emotions, it is how people have been told to think of them so they do not feel bad about killing and eating them. I assure you sheep are not stupid or mindless.

According to sheep 101 Sheep have a strong instinct to follow the sheep in front of them. When one sheep decides to go somewhere, the rest of the flock usually follows, even if it is not a good "decision." For example, sheep will follow each other to slaughter. If one sheep jumps over a cliff, the others are likely to follow. Even from birth, lambs are conditioned to follow the older members of the flock. This instinct is "hard-wired" into sheep. It's not something they "think" about.

I think it's easier to accept popular opinion, because people often get attacked for standing out in various ways. However I think plenty of people accpet this consequence and do reject sheep like ways :-)