Political Leaders & Our Herd-Mentality

“If everyone is thinking alike, then somebody isn’t thinking” – George S. Patton Jr. (U.S. Gen.)

Ever wondered how notorious leaders in the world like Hitler, Stalin, and now Narendra Modi and Donald Trump developed millions of followers? Ever thought about how people who are much intelligent otherwise just grow a blind spot for their leaders and buy their ideologies?

After a recent hilarious episode in which a couple of my so-called friends just unfriended me on FB because they could not stand my viewpoint against the current regime, I decided to dig into what makes them such a hard-core follower where no logic is a logic for them if it makes their leader look bad or flawed.

To my surprise, the history of it is as old as the history of humans itself. We, being social animals, are hardwired to look at some sort of messiah to free us from our current sufferings and this phenomenon is continued to exist forever. And since humans are social animals, who cannot live without interacting with each other so whoever has any sort of superiority over them (be it intelligence and/or wealth) can easily influence them to adopt certain behaviors, political views, violent behaviors on a largely emotional, rather than rational basis. This is called mob/ herd-mentality. When individuals are affected by it, they may make different decisions than they would have individually.

Gustave Le Bon (one of the most renowned social psychologists described this mindset in the following words): “The masses have never thirsted after truth. Whoever can supply them with illusions is easily their master; whoever attempts to destroy their illusions is always their victim”.

FAQ: So why some countries like Pakistan have herd-mentality game so strong while others have relatively low effects of it?

Ans: Well, this is where religion and philosophy come into play, we belong to a region that is heavily influenced by religious values, and feelings are promoted over facts. In fact, a large majority of people, believe that following a leader (who appears to be of upright character) is a part of their religious duty even if they have certain facts against them, that’s why you will find many people sharing religious quotes in support of their leaders.

FAQ: I’m much educated, and I researched a lot before I extended my support to my leader. I am unlike what you just described. Do I belong to this mentality?

Ans: Yes, maybe!

To make things more complex, most people are also the victims of confirmation bias. Confirmation bias is the tendency to search for, interpret, favor, and recall information in a way that confirms or supports one’s prior beliefs or values. Worse of all, the new generation lives in this delusion that they know more than others which is not true. In fact, there is a great decline among people who read, or even if they do, they just select things that make their leaders look great in their eyes. Therefore, we have people following different leaders and we call each other wrong because we are grasping different kinds of evidence which widens the understanding gap between them.

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