Following the herd is easier, but it means giving away agency over your own ability to think.

Being a sheep means not thinking critically.

It means outsourcing your reasoning skills.

The New York Times’ piece on why you mustn’t think for yourself

Following the crowd means blindly believing what you’re told and losing control of your life.

I would argue that It’s better to make your own decisions than to rely on others, and critical thinking is the catalyst. Conforming to the group often leads to totalitarian thinking, limiting creativity and individuality.

The process of mass formation leads to a situation where people become willing to radically sacrifice individual interest for the interest of the collective, and that can lead to a kind of totalitarian state.

Mattias Desmet

Groupthink is bad

Straying from the norm is seen as a threat by the establishment, but it’s necessary for problem-solving.

The Overton Window

Basically, groups can be overconfident and wrong.

  • The Salem Witch Trials (1692): A classic example of groupthink leading to mass hysteria and the wrongful execution of women accused of witchcraft.
  • The Jonestown Massacre (1978): The mass suicide-murder of over 900 people in Jonestown, led by cult leader Jim Jones, was a result of groupthink.
  • The Dot-com Bubble (late 1990s – early 2000s): Excessive speculation in internet-related companies, driven by a collective irrational exuberance and fear of missing out, leading to a market crash.

Being a ‘sheep’ means not thinking or acting independently.

It’s sometimes okay to follow the crowd, but always think critically.

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