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DrJGH t1_ixdiub6 wrote

“[These] findings essentially suggest that the flock doesn’t have a definite leader, but different animals take turns in this role,” it says here, and “What is particularly interesting here is how fluid this transition is: in human societies, the transfer of authority or leadership is often marked by uncertainty and chaos.”

This is an interesting article, and this seems to have been quite an exciting ethological study


cedenof10 t1_ixexhhq wrote

to be fair, there’s a significant difference between “this guy will choose which way to run for the next 4 mins” and “this guy will choose who can get food for the next 4 years”


Kryptosis t1_ixf91it wrote

We probably exhibit the same behavior in chaotic crowds too. People intuitively move with those around them who seem like they know where they are going.


[deleted] t1_ixfcw8f wrote



StoneTemplePilates t1_ixgcp19 wrote

It's not just when they're spooked either, all it takes is for one of them to start poking around a hole in the hedge or disappear behind a few trees and suddenly hundreds of them are like "ohhh what's over there?!?" Even though they've been in the same field for months.

Source: decades of boredom watching sheep at my grandparents in Wales.


DaisyHotCakes t1_ixfew0h wrote

But what happens if another of those sheep run off in a different direction than the others and the “leader” they followed? Will some of the sheep veer off ti follow the new guy or will they continue following the first one?


AxiousDeMorte t1_ixfhcne wrote

Have you ever seen Babe? The movie with the "that'll do pig"? That, I guess, idk shinola about sheep.


TheBirminghamBear t1_ixflyo4 wrote

> if you see a mob running the opposite direction of you, you might run with them

I mean, I sort of have to. Running at them seems a poor choice no matter what is behind them.


shmorby t1_ixgq875 wrote

Plus I doubt I want to be running towards whatever scared a mob of people enough to run.


Noxious_Zebra t1_ixfcs8o wrote

That’s a really interesting thought, and would be interesting to learn more about crowd psychology and what affects our decision making


paperwasp3 t1_ixfhqn2 wrote

Finding out who the bellwether is in different situations.


dannyp777 t1_ixx4026 wrote

Humans doen't always make the smartest and most logical choices for leaders, there are so many factors at play. Alot of the problem may come from the fact that we assume we have more complete knowledge of the candidates than we actually do and are content to base our decisions on inadequate assessment of candidates.


[deleted] t1_ixdk5ya wrote



Spepsium t1_ixdncxt wrote

The classic platonic division. Everyone's monster is attracted to what's salient while their inner man is overwhelmed


Numismatists t1_ixdtmdk wrote

Bread & Circus while the Ecosphere collapses.


elralpho t1_ixevst1 wrote

The sheep would never have let it get this bad...


bishpa t1_ixfekq8 wrote

Pink Floyd covered all this.


badger81987 t1_ixeyytm wrote

A flock of sheep also has alot less members than even a small town. They are all far more familiar and thus trusting with all members than basically any human community can be


caulrye t1_ixf4lm4 wrote

100s of millions of sheep aren’t moving in a flock together. The scale is very different.


BTBLAM t1_ixfwu1p wrote

I would say the sheep are distracted and are just following what’s in front of them


Arodg25 t1_ixdwai3 wrote

it's likely because sheep haven't figured out what corruption is. once they do though you'll see a whole different dynamic and once they introduce the idea of "shareholders", their whole system is f*****.


Jason_CO t1_ixdxv0j wrote

Humans know what that is but we could choose not to do it.


Arodg25 t1_ixe2sp6 wrote

we don't just know what it is, we're the inventors


TheBirminghamBear t1_ixfn5dt wrote

Surprisingly untrue actually.

There is evidence of corruption in many social and eusocial species, many of which predate us in the evolutionary scale.

Ants and bees can exhibit corruption. Bees are supposed to mate only with a queen, but in species with other females, mating will occur outside royal lineage, creating shadow competition in the hive


HidetheCaseman89 t1_ixecxsz wrote

To the corrupt, it's not a choice, it's a lifestyle. They don't see any other option. It's simply "How it's done."


the_first_brovenger t1_ixgqtrc wrote

You can dress it up differently but corruption is inherent to humanity, whichever manifestation it takes.

That's not saying all of humanity is corrupt. It's saying the potential is there and it happens organically. The goal is to go from "let's go get thousands of slave laborers" to "hey let's put this romantic dinner on the company do get a tax deduction."


wanderinggoat t1_ixejhyp wrote

the farmers will have a hard time when the sheep work out what a judas sheep is too!


-downtone_ t1_ixhaqko wrote

If only we could remove liars from the mix somehow. Needs to be built into society that lying actually is considered bad.


Arodg25 t1_ixi1ztp wrote

everybody already knows that, but we also know that it's very advantageous to lie sometimes too.


-downtone_ t1_ixiw70o wrote

I personally think taking advantage with lying is a lack of emotional control. It's not advantageous to the group as a whole at all.


Arodg25 t1_ixj22s5 wrote

depends on the lie and the purpose behind it. if your partner asks you if they look good before heading out the door. and they don't. the truth could ruin the whole night. or a simple lie like yes could prevent this.


randomusername8472 t1_ixf0w4q wrote

I don't know enough about sheep social dynamics to care but... In my experience humans also work like this in friend/family groups.

Families and friendships groups usually have one or two "leaders" who do most of the social "admin" (eg, arranging gatherings between the friends) but the actual "lead" of the group is flexible and situational. People defer to the trusted person who has most experience with a particular problem, and unorganised decisions happen organically (like, when it's time to leave).

I only ever see it on a really small scale though, like maybe a dozen people? Sheep flocks are bigger, but then is guess their social dynamics are much simpler so the same mechanism can be used over larger group. And since they have no way of improving their methodology, groups that get too big to work by this method will break up into manageable groups again.


APeacefulWarrior t1_ixg957d wrote

>In my experience humans also work like this in friend/family groups.

Connie Willis wrote a book about this called (approrpriately enough) Bellwether. Unlike most of her novels, it's not sci-fi, more of a farce on corporate science work. Very amusing, tho.


AbouBenAdhem t1_ixdwhmf wrote

I wonder if there’s a difference between domestic and wild sheep—maybe the behavior of domestic sheep has evolved to function in conjunction with shepherds and dogs.


Spacebutterfly t1_ixeplbh wrote

The idea being if one sheep knows the way though a maze- that sheep is the leader

I imagine that a sheep stays the leader until they say, whether they mean to or not “I’m not the leader anymore” and they follow suit- because they’re literally sheep


Pencilowner t1_ixfl0d4 wrote

I think they over generalized the scope of grazing behavior to political behavior. The exact same thing they see in sheep happens to humans in certain situations. A large group can move in a crowd together regardless of there being a “leader”


Strazdas1 t1_ixgt48j wrote

More credence that sheep are communist in nature.