David Icke, an author, conspiracy theorist, and former football player and sportscaster once said “The human race is a herd. Here we are, unique, eternal aspects of consciousness with an infinity of potential, and we have allowed ourselves to become an unthinking, unquestioning blob of conformity and uniformity. A herd. Once we concede to the herd mentality, we can be controlled and directed by a tiny few. And we are. ” Here, Icke is saying that humans often become attached to groups. They do not tend to question what is going on, as long as they feel safe and secure with any group.
Humans thrive on the feeling of being included, so much so that they lose themselves and start to become one with their group. They become numb to new ideas different from ones their group believe, and start to behave differently than they would have before the group. In the novel, Lord of the Flies by William Golding, several young schoolboys are trapped on an island. There, they slowly start to become more violent without the leadership of an adult, and under the leadership of a young schoolboy named Jack.
A similar theme of people conforming to society is also present in the article “What Makes Good People Do Bad Things? by Melissa Dittmann. In this article, it talks about several experiments and events, with the main focus being Abu Ghraib, where people become violent due to a feeling of superiority over the people below them. Some of the topics mentioned in the article include the electric shock test, where regular people believe they were administering electric shocks to other people because a guard was telling them to, and the Stanford Prison Experiment, where a group of college students were told to be guards or prisoners, and the group of guards became increasingly hostile to the group of prisoners after six days.
Both the novel and the article show that when man fulfills his desire to feel safe in a group, he will start acting like the group, no matter how much the group goes against his morals. In The Lord of the Flies, the schoolboys start to form tribes to show their unity, but those tribes also start to show their conformity, well in “What Makes Good People Do Bad Things”, the U. S. soldiers of Abu Ghraib start becoming increasingly hostile as one unit. In The Lord of the Flies, Jack eventually takes over most of the island from the original leader named Ralph.
When Ralph goes to visit Jack before a storm, thunder strikes. Jack decides to have his group do a special “dance” – a person pretends to be a wild pig in the center of a human circle, well the human circle holds spears and other weapons and mimes killing the “pig”. As Ralph and his friend Piggy join the circle, even though they have never hunted or wanted to, they “were eager to take a place in [a] demented but partly secure society” (Golding 1). Ralph and Piggy, at this point in the novel, were in fear. Jack’s group is the only secure and known part of the island.
The boys do not know if they will ever get off the island, but what they do know is that Jack has a tribe, where he is the leader, and the main purpose of this tribe is to form an island society that hunts. As Ralph and Piggy do not have this on their side of the island, they seek to be a part of this group, and feel the safety and not fear the unknown. They want to conform and not have to worry about the mysterious island and how they are going to get food next, and instead have hunters get them food and have a leader tell them what to do.
As the group continues to do the “dance”, “some of the [children on the island] started a ring of their own”, and eventually “there was the throb and stamp of a single organism” (1). The circles are their own way of showing they are a group, that they are one. By having similar circles, they are showing their uniformity of the single group. These boys now are following and miming what Jack does, and he has their complete control. They use these circles, each other, and Jack to feel security, when they fear the unknown and just want that tiny sliver of the known to hold on to.
They way Ralph, Piggy, and the other boys conform to Jack’s wishes is also very similar to how the different people act in the article “What Makes Good People Do Bad Things? ” In the article, one of the main topics mentioned is Abu Ghraib – a situation where U. S. soldiers started becoming Iraqi prisoner abusers. A man named Philip G. Zimbardo “argued that situations pull people to act in ways they never thought imaginable” (Dittmann 1). What Zimbardo is saying is that when provided with a situation, people will start to act different than they normally do if the situation requires it.
In Abu Ghraib, the U. S. soldiers started becoming more violent because they were in a position of power, one they had never been in before, and they acted like how they thought someone in that situation would act. The soldiers started becoming more violent when necessary because they were conforming to how they thought people in this situation would act. Also, because these soldier were in a group, it provided them with a “l-cannot-get-in-trouble-bymyself-if-everyone-is-doing-it” mentality. They believed that their actions were justified because they had other people doing it with them, and that made it okay.
Most of these soldiers probably thought they would never act hostile so hostile to another person unless it was deserved, but because of the “herd mentality”, they were proven wrong. In The Lord of the Flies, they boys start to forget about their morals in the group, well in “What Makes Good People Do Bad Things? ” it is learned that people become evil in groups because they leave behind their morals. As the boys are doing their circles, another boy named Simon who had disappeared for some time returns to tell the boys that the beast they saw on the island was not actually a beast.
The boys mistake Simon for the beast, and as Simon tumbles into the circle, they “surged after [Simon), poured down the rock, leapt on the beast, screamed, struck bit tore. There was no words, and no movements, but the tearing of claws and teeth” (2). The boys are in a group mentality, and after the pig “dance” were also feeling very violent. When Simon is mistaken for the beast, they boys are feeling so powerful that they act as one. No one has to say anything to know that they are all feeling a surge of power, a sense of unity.
They kill Simon as a group, even though they are all young boys and would have never killed anyone in their lives. They do this because they all conformed to Jack’s violent ways, as he was the leader, and now, with the “herd mentality”, they all thought like Jack did what he would have done. Zimbardo, while talking about the shock experiment, also mentions that people can be “seduced into evil by dehumanizing and labeling others” (2). When people are under the “herd mentality”, they follow whatever their leader does. Sometimes, the leader can be evil, which leads to the followers, in return, becoming evil.
The followers want to feel the unity of the group, so they will go along with whatever the leader does. By doing this, evil actions can be committed. By looking at this quote with the actions of the boys in Lord of the Flies it is clear that the young schoolboys dehumanized Simon. They wanted a reason to fight, to feel power, and to act as one, so they dehumanized Simon and made him into a beast. By doing this, all of the boys committed evil actions that cannot be erased, and will forever stay with them, even after they have left the group.
In both Lord of the Flies, and “What Makes Good People Do Bad Things? “, the authors display how that when man wants to feel secure, he will join a group to get that, but will not separate from the group, even if it is against his personal morals. William Golding showed the need for security by having Ralph and Piggy join Jack’s tribe for the “dance” during a heavy thunderstorm, well Melissa Dittmann showed the want to be included by talking about how several U. S. soldiers in Abu Ghraib became hostile towards prisoners.
To show that man will not separate rom a group even if it goes against his personal morals, William Golding had Jack’s tribe dehumanize and murder Simon as a group to show that anyone can turn their backs on their morals when under the power of a group. Melissa Dittman showed this by talking about how people can be so easily persuaded to evil when under the power of a group. Overall, both Lord of the Flies and “What Makes Good People Do Bad Things? ” shows that when man is under the influence of a group to feel secure, he will do whatever the group wants so he can continue to feel his own safety.