Wednesday, December 7, 2011

We the sheeple of the United States...

Mike Adams at Natural News reports of a study conducted in the early 1960s, known as the Milgram experiments, which shows that 70% of people will administer painful, even lethal, electrical shocks if told to do so by a researcher. Now this is psychological research, and no one was really harmed. The "shocks" were signals given to an actor to feign pain. The researchers used psychological tricks like warning the subjects that they would ruin the project or do serious harm to the individual if the shocks were not administered as ordered.

The study was replicated in 2008 at the University of California at Santa Clara ... with the same results.

Mr. Adams writes:
For many years, psychologists speculated the original studies must have somehow been flawed. Humans beings couldn't be so cruel and gullible, could they? But now this repeating of the study immediately clobbers any debate on the subject and forces us all to confront the terrible reality: Most human beings of all ages, races, religions, cultural upbringings and professions will actively torture, harm and even kill fellow human beings if ordered to do so. [Emphasis in the original]

Why is this important to understand? Because it explains the sheeple effect that's so dominant in society today. Why do consumers obey apparent authorities so blindly? Why do they do what they're told even when it goes against all common sense and their own ethics?

According to Mr. Adams, we were all raised to be mind slaves:
Think about it: From the very first day you go to kindergarten, you're punished for getting out of line (literally), talking out of place, expressing your own ideas or refusing to follow commands. This psychological brow-beating goes on for thirteen years, and it's enforced by most parents, counselors and other authority figures.

And in most universities, the browbeating continues through the college and graduate school years. Very few of us are really taught to think for ourselves.
He cites a common example of this kind of conditioning, done at Costco and Sam's Club:
[P]eople just wait at the exit for some lame worker to check their receipt and mark it with a pen. People actually line up like cattle even after they paid for their stuff! I just walk out the door with the stuff I paid for, utterly ignoring the silly "receipt checkers" who keep screaming "Sir! Sir! Sir!" What I've learned is that after three or four screams, they just shut up and go back to the line of sheeple. Just slap on a pair of headphones, crank up your iPod and walk right out of the store, folks. Why are you giving up your Constitutional rights and submitting yourself to illegal search and seizure for a cart full of stuff you just paid for? [Emphasis added]
This explains the conundrum faced by libertarians. We want our people to be free, but only 30% of us know that we are not -- and even among that 30%, only about 3% of the population is motivated to do anything about it. Even intelligent people (or myself for that matter) sometimes get caught acting like one of the "sheeple." In everyday situations like the Costco one, it is probably harmless; but we need to heighten our awareness, so that we do not let ourselves be lulled into more harmful invasions of our rights, like the TSA scanners and police ID checks. 

The women's liberation movement realized that the first step to success was to raise the consciousness of the population to how women were being discriminated against. Libertarians need to do the same thing with the general population. I hope this post has been a small contribution in that direction.

Virtual buckeye to The Liberty Voice.

Update Dec. 7: Here is a concurring opinion from Bruce E. Levine at AlterNet. He cites eight reasons why young Americans are not fighting the system. I will refer you to the article to read the details, but here is the list:
  1. Fear they cannot repay their student loan debt
  2. Misuse of psychiatry and drugs to quell non-compliant behavior
  3. Schools that educate for compliance and not democracy
  4. "No Child Left Behind," a federal program that bases aid on test scores, which forces teachers to teach to the test, and not helping the child learn how to think for himself
  5. Confusing the difference between education and schooling. Young people are taught that disliking school is the same thing as disliking learning.
  6. Normalization of surveillance -- beginning at home as parents monitor their children's computers and social networking pages.
  7. Television -- for sixty years, the opiate of the people
  8. Fundamentalist religion and "fundamentalist consumerism," which destroy self-reliance and foster self-absorption.

1 comment:

Steven P. Cornett said...

I would agree with everything on the list except eight, which is the typical Christian bashing of the left, which none but the most thoughtful can resist.

The "self absorption" is really the replacement of the Gospel with a materialist "This world" weakened strain. Much of what is heard, even in Catholic pulpits, is psycho-babble.

Acceptance of the Truth can, and should, turn your world upside-down, though as G.K. Chesterton noted, you find out that it's the world that's upside-down with their face in the mud, nose to the grindstone, and feet kicking rebelliously against the heavens.