Don’t Follow the Crowd


From: Tales of the Dervishes by Indries Shah

Once upon a time Khidr, the Teacher of Moses, called upon mankind with a warning. At a certain date, he said, all the water in the world that had not been specially hoarded would disappear. It would then be renewed with different water, which would drive men mad.

Only one man listened to the meaning of this advice. He collected water and went to a secure place where he stored it, and waited for the other water to change its character.

On the appointed day the streams stopped running, the wells went dry, and the man who had listened, seeing this happening, went to his retreat and drank his preserved water.

When he saw, from his security, the waterfalls again beginning to flow, this man descended among the other sons of men. He found that they were thinking and talking in an entirely different way from before, yet they had no memory of what had happened, or of having been warned. When he tried to talk to them, he realized that they thought he was mad, and they showed hostility or compassion, not understanding.

At first he drank none of the new water, but went back to his concealment, to draw on his supplies, every day.

Finally, however, he took the decision to drink the new water because he could not bear the loneliness of living, behaving and thinking in a different way from everyone else. He drank the new water, and became like the rest. Then he forgot all about his own store of special water, and his fellows began to look upon him as a madman who had miraculously been restored to sanity.


What is normal or mainstream doesn’t make it correct or in line with Nature. Following the consensus blindly is a plan for failure.

It is normal to look to others for reassurance of our decisions. It is a common trait of human nature that has served us well over time. In the wild, we didn’t necessarily have the time to fine comb over thousands of variables and come up with a well-researched decision, especially when dealing with predators. Our brains had to make short cuts to deal with things on the fly. In this vein, our brain will use physical indicators to help gather information.

This mechanism is most obvious in how we use height, muscle size, and overall aesthetics of man or women to infer their ability as a warrior, hunter, and/or potential spouse. This can be summarized as form and function. We use someone’s outward form to estimate or assume their inward function.

In our modern age of plastic surgery, spray tanning, and artificial gym work we have hacked the outward form forming a façade of fake function and fake health.

A more extreme example would be asking a bodybuilder to sprint or chop some trees down. The outward strength is proven false in application. A more subtle example is when a muscle driven athlete develops niggling injuries and eventually a more serious non-contact injury.

Look good, play good….or maybe not

This is also commonly seen in advertising where the status of a famous celebrity or athlete is used to push a product or service.

It’s everywhere you look. Nike, Adidas, Gatorade, Chocolate Milk brands, Protein Supplements, Workout Plans, etc.

We associate the status and supposed credibility of the famous person with the product instead of actually surveying the merit of said product.

This is a common marketing tactic used over and over again because it works. Sometimes we must learn to catch ourselves before the underlying programming of our brain is used against by clever marketers .

This happens all the time, where someone brings up how Ronaldo, Messi, or other high-level pro does so-and-so workout. We need to step back and focus on the merit of the concept and not fall for it merely because some star does it or says they do it.

More often than not, there is much more going on behind the scenes than just saying Ronaldo lifts a lot, so should I…

Again we see this during arguments where someone will begin to insult or question the character of the opposing side instead the idea or concept they were supposed to be talking about.

The crowd gets distracted by the poop-slinging and forgets about what they were actually talking about.

When someone starts insulting the person instead of the argument, then you know that person has lost.

The problems come when those with dastardly intentions or factual misconceptions use their resources or status to drive people a certain direction, often to sell something.

Don’t be afraid to go against the grain. Very often, the crowd is the very last place you want to be. Socialized norms mean nothing. Something being common has no bearing on whether it is truthful or not.

🔑 If the training, lifestyle, and nutritional methods of the mainstream were truthful and effective, there would not be an abundance of injury, dysfunction, and obesity running rampant across the western world.

💡 We live in a world that seems increasingly beyond our control. Our livelihoods are at the whim of globalized forces. The problems that we face-economic, environmental, and so on-cannot be solved by our individual actions. Our politicians are distant and unresponsive to our desires. A natural response when people feel overwhelmed is to retreat into various forms of passivity. If we don’t try too much in life, if we limit our circle of action, we can give ourselves the illusion of control. The less we attempt, the less chances of failure. If we can make it look like we are not really responsible for our fate, for what happens to us in life, then our apparent powerlessness is more palatable. For this reason we become attracted to certain narratives: it is genetics that determines much of what we do; we are just products of our times; the individual is just a myth; human behavior can be reduced to statistical trends.

Many take this change in value a step further, giving their passivity a positive veneer. They romanticize the self-destructive artist who loses control of him- or herself. Anything that smacks of discipline or effort seems fussy and passé: what matters is the feeling behind the artwork, and any hint of craftsmanship or work violates this principle. They come to accept things that are made cheaply and quickly. The idea that they might have to expend much effort to get what they want has been eroded by the proliferation of devices that do so much of the work for them, fostering the idea that they deserve all of this -that it is their inherent right to have and to consume what they want. “Why bother working for years to attain mastery when we can have so much power with very little effort? Technology will solve everything. “This passivity has even assumed a moral stance: “mastery and power are evil; they are the domain of patriarchal elites who oppress us; power is inherently bad; better to opt out of the system altogether,” or at least make it look that way.

-Robert Greene, Mastery

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