On July 8th, just a couple of weeks ago, a group of shepherds outside Gevas, Turkey, were surprised to see a lone sheep jump off a nearby cliff and fall to its death. But they were stunned when the rest of the
nearly 1500 sheep in the herd followed, each jumping off the same cliff. When it was all over, �450 of the sheep perished in a billowy, white pile� according to
the Washington Post story. The sheep jumping later in the pack were cushioned by those that created the growing pile below. The estimated loss to the families of Gevas topped $100,000 � an extremely significant amount of money for the 26 families whose sheep were grazing together. (Average income for this country is $2,700.)
Now we know sheep aren�t too bright � but we�re intelligent people � right? Maybe not.
*Psychologist Ruth Brenda tested this theory with teenagers. She put the kids together in groups of ten. Members of the group were instructed to raise their hand when the teacher pointed to the longest line on three separate charts. What one person in the group did not know is that the other nine had been instructed ahead of time to vote for the second longest line. The lines were clearly different � not even close to the same length.
As the experiment began, the nine plants quickly raised their hands for the second longest line. The tenth student glanced around, looked briefly confused, and then slipped his/her hand up with the rest. Time after time, the tenth student would agree that a short line was longest just to keep from challenging the group consensus.
This phenomenon was played out 75 percent of the time, and was consistent with small children all the way up through high school. *(Illustration from Accept No Mediocre Life � by my friend David Foster.)
Space here does not allow a full exploration of this phenomenon in our own lives. How many times have you made decisions because it seemed the popular thing to do � but perhaps defied common sense?
Is eating at McDonald�s a good health decision or just popular with the kids? Is buying a Mercedes the best use of your money, or just an attempt to impress others?
What about staying in a job that does not fit just because of the �benefits?� Getting a degree in something you don�t enjoy because of the �opportunities?� Don�t be a sheep!
There is an old Arab proverb that says, �An army of sheep led by a lion will defeat an army of lions led by a sheep.