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Are you following the herd?

Animals, when in groups, can make wildly smart or critically stupid decisions. For instance, sheep blindly follow the flock no matter where they go just because that’s what the herd is doing. 

Well, as social animals, people act similarly to sheep. Social psychologists have studied and cited that situations often make people act a certain way, undoubtedly following the crowd. Consider, for a moment, the concept of group polarization. The idea is that like-minded people in a group reinforce one another’s viewpoints. Group polarization, in nature, strengthens the opinions of each person in the group. Good marketers perhaps know this best. I mean, marketing doesn’t have to persuade us that a product is good; it only needs to say others think so. (And now I’ve given you the secret sauce to marketing.)

Clearly, others affect our behavior.

We all like to think we’re innately good and that we’re capable of making our own choices. But our penchant for doing good and our individual preferences have less to do with our innate character and more to do with the situations we find ourselves in. One reason for this is that we live in a challenging world. We use others’ decisions as a heuristic (that’s right, I used that big word), or mental shortcut, to navigate our lives. We believe that we’d be the person who will stand up to evil and that our personal sense of right and wrong would prevail over the herd mentality. But history and psychology show that given certain circumstances, only one out of four of us have the guts to stand up and say, “I don’t agree, and I won’t participate.” 

Compliance with social norms is an integral part of our evolutionary psychology. Back when we lived in tribes, adhering to those norms meant we didn’t get banished into the wastelands for acting the wrong way.

Unfortunately, our compliance with small things ensures that we’ll either be complicit or even participate when the big, bad things happen.

And big, bad things are happening.

There is no doubt that the progression of Covid-19 has been messy and complicated. The news is ALWAYS frightening. Day after day, we hear reports of spikes, new spikes, hotspots, rising hospitalization rates… 

It hasn’t gone away, and people are genuinely scared of the virus.

Around June, I think, someone went on camera and told us the only way to end Covid-19, and the only way to stop people from dying is by wearing face coverings. Four minutes later, cities and counties across the nation implemented mask-wearing mandates in public. You can’t enter a store, ride public transportation, or sit at the park without a face covering. Universal masking – comply with this mandate. 

That’s it. Simply comply. 

There is no science behind this order, just conjecture. 

Let’s look at gyms. Ongoing research by searches for outbreak tracing at gyms across the country. They collect granular check-in data. Between May 1 and August 6, 2020, 2,873 gyms across the country took part and provided their data. The result: out of 49.4 million-member check-ins over three months, there was zero evidence that positive cases originated in the gym, and the infection rate was .0023%. This equates to a visits-to-virus ratio of 42,731:1. 

Gyms (at least here in Arizona) require members to wear masks at all times.

Sidebar: In about 10 years, studies will show mass numbers of healthy gym-goers dropped like flys during universal mask mandates. I cannot believe it is safe to engage in vigorous exercise while covering your mouth and nose, thereby constricting breathing. 

The urge to conform to a group is more potent than you think. 

Many times, people become part of a group or mob without even knowing. Masking up at the gym is evidence. There is no science behind the mask mandate. The numbers unequivocally refute the idea that masks are necessary. But the herd wears masks while they workout.

The automatic response to conform is called automatic mimicry. Automatic mimicry is when you follow along without questioning the action or behavior. 

If you haven’t guessed, I am an anti-masker. I think that science should guide public health policy. Still, much of our country has apparently developed a herd mentality when it comes to Covid-19. I’m also opposed to groupthink. 

When a group collectively rationalizes its decisions without evaluating alternative ideas or viewpoints and demonize those who are not part of the group, they risk not seeing dangers. 

Dangers, like the loss of civil liberties.

Dangers, like creating a no-criticism culture.

Dangers, like creating a no-criticism decision-making policy.

Dangers, like losing individuality and logic.

Dangers, like losing common sense and reason.

Dangers, like losing truth and understanding. 

If we continue to align ourselves with one-sided groupthink… if we continue to follow the herd like the sheep do… we will undoubtedly make the world an even more hostile environment than it already is.

The bottom line: Free thought and the expression of that free thought once made America great. We need to stop suppressing our voicing of the truth.

That’s it.  Simply, don’t be sheep.

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