Sheep: The Animal That Fell From Grace
There is a reason why you may know a lot of people who keep guard dogs, but none who keep guard sheep.
Sheep Logic, an article by W. Ben Hunt published in Epsilon Theory, gives a fascinating account of sheep behavior. After you read the article, you will have a better understanding why there are no guard sheep, why there is a distinction between a flock and a pack, and why today people are encouraged to fall into flocks not packs.
Here is a summary of sheep protocol according to Dr. Hunt:
*Sheep are other-regarding. Their actions are prompted by what they see other sheep do.
*Sheep have zero capacity for altruism. They do not form bonds, they do not lead, nor do they follow. They just do not care!
*Sheep’s other-regarding and selfishness continue even when such traits prove unbeneficial to them. If no outside event prompts any sheep to discontinue a detrimental behavior, the entire flock continues the behavior.
*Sheep’s flocks are social structures that promote other-awareness, and preclude coordination or formation of objectives. Flocks, therefore, differ sharply from packs, since the hallmark of pack animals is a self awareness that encourages a social structure formed to carry out common objectives, such as hunting for food or raising the young.
Do people resemble sheep or wolves today?
According to Ben Hunt, people today are encouraged to behave like sheep – other-regarding, selfish, dogmatic, and “willing to pursue a myopic behavior even unto death.”
“Why are we being trained to think like sheep? Because sheep are wonderful prey animals. They pay the rent with their fleece, and when push comes to shove you can eat them, too.” “Just keep them from killing themselves in some really stupid accident and you can harvest them for years and years and years.”
“How are we trained to think like sheep? By the rewards we receive from our modern social institutions for other-regarding flock behaviors like jealousy (feeling sad when others are glad) and schadenfreude (feeling glad when others are sad), and by the penalties we receive for self-regarding pack behaviors like honor and shame.” “Shame requires self-evaluation and self-judgment against some standard of obligation to the pack, concepts which would make sheep laugh if they could.”
This Biblical animal certainly loses its cuddliness at the hands of Dr. Hunt, though it continues to illustrate human deportment well.
(Sheep Logic, authored by Dr. W. Ben Hunt, appeared on Epsilon Theory, on October 5, 2017)