Shepherds, Sheeple, and Kool-aid


Adrian Rutt

Life is like one of those sand art thingies that gets destroyed after it's completed.

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62 Responses

  1. Avatar Kim says:

    Failure to question the status quo or to not understand the possible failure points of modern society does indeed mark someone as both incurious and a rather poor ally in case the worst does happen.

    Anyone care to take a stab at Just in Time?

    Getting information from people on the ground is easier done than said, however. Brainwashing, these days, is actually harder to consume, surprisingly enough. This might explain why millenials are generally more understanding of current reality…Report

  2. Avatar Brandon Berg says:

    It’s a question of degree. Sheeple are 9/14 sheep and 5/14 people. Sheople are 5/14 sheep and 9/14 people.Report

  3. Avatar Saul Degraw says:

    I’ve only heard sheeple really used by a small group of the Left and often on mainstream liberals. Most often the term comes from anti-Vaxxers which is a whole different breed of argument than the usual political ones.

    I’m not really sure of the point of this essay unless it is to provide broad strokes against the Left. The term neo-liberal is probably thrown around too much but the throwing is an infight on the left. There are similar mudslinging insults on the right like the more dreadful and appalling “cuckservative.”Report

    • Avatar Adrian Rutt says:

      I guess that’s why this essay is on the personal side of things… I hear it all the time and about everything. Gun rights, climate change, social programs, etc. etc.Report

  4. Avatar Saul Degraw says:

    Where I hear sheeple used is anti-Vaxxers being angry at pro-Vaccination people. “Wake up you, sheeple. Why are you blindly following authority!!!!?”

    Yes sometimes authority needs to be questioned but there are many times when the experts and authorities are absolutely right. Climate Change and Vaccination are absolutely right here. I’ve noticed that a lot of libertarians flirt with Climate Change denialism because acknowledging climate change means recognizing a need for mass government action against business and economics. So you have obviously business-first think tanks with Orwellian names like the “Competitive Business Institute” hiring a few hacks to go against the overwhelming majority of science. Libertarians than go a sneer at liberals for being against dissent for critiquing these institutes and their “studies” on the obvious grounds of businesses not wanting to do anything that might cut into profit and that somethings might be more important business and profit.Report

    • Avatar Adrian Rutt says:

      I’ve noticed that a lot of libertarians flirt with Climate Change denialism because acknowledging climate change means recognizing a need for mass government action against business and economics.

      Well said. I was always curious about this… made me think of things differently. Thanks.Report

    • Avatar Damon says:

      ” I’ve noticed that a lot of libertarians flirt with Climate Change denialism because acknowledging climate change means recognizing a need for mass government action against business and economics. ”

      Possibly. Or they could believe that it’s not man made change, or they don’t believe that any efforts by man will result in a significant change in the trend. Then again, libertarians, being childish, childless people only interested in themselves, may figure they’ll be dead before any negative aspects effect them.Report

      • Avatar Aaron W says:

        (1) Carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases such as methane, nitrous oxide, and so on absorb infrared radiation.
        (2) Carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas concentrations have been increasing since around 1750.
        (3) Those increases have been due to human activity.
        (4) Increases in the concentration of these gases will cause the Earth’s average temperature to rise over time in a way that is extremely rapid compared to most geophysical processes.

        Those things are facts that can be verified by experiment and observation. It doesn’t matter how much you “believe” them not – I can believe all I want that the Earth is flat, and I would still be wrong. Just like any libertarian who doesn’t “believe” the above would be wrong.

        Now whether a particular form of government intervention would actually be effective or just is another story entirely, and something subject to some degree of belief or values. But, by arguing that climate change isn’t real or isn’t caused by humans instead of arguing about whether a particular form of government coercion is a good idea, libertarians are setting themselves up to look ignorant and childish to anyone who actually understands these things. Just like how liberals who are anti-vaxxers look ignorant and childish. Or any other number of issues. There are actually 99% verifiable scientific truths in the world; we’re not in some kind of postmodern Hell where belief is all that matters.Report

        • Avatar El Muneco says:

          I was a climate skeptic in the mid-90s. I argued back and forth on Usenet with real climate scientists that their models were inconsistent (which they were) and their data was incomplete (which it was), and that reasoning by induction on previous projections, the most likely of the IPCC forecasts to come true would be the second-most-conservative (which actually looks like a pretty good guess).

          Unfortunately for my then self, their models have gotten better, the data has only gotten more consistent as it has gotten more complete, and the second-most-conservative projection still called for a 2-3 degree C mean global temperature rise by 2100…

          I’m no longer a skeptic. That train sailed at least a decade ago.Report

        • Avatar Damon says:

          I think you misinterpreted my comment to Saul. He said that a lot of libertarians learn towards denial because to accept it means “acknowledging climate change means recognizing a need for mass government action ” That is one possibility. I suggested several others. I’m sure there are more reasons too.

          “we’re not in some kind of postmodern Hell where belief is all that matters.” You don’t live in my world apparently, ’cause that’s most of what I experience from he people around me all the time, especially my more VERY LIBERAL (their words) friends.Report

        • Avatar j r says:

          (4) Increases in the concentration of these gases will cause the Earth’s average temperature to rise over time in a way that is extremely rapid compared to most geophysical processes.

          Since this is a proposition about the future, care to explain how it “can be verified by experiment and observation?”

          There is “science” and then there is appeal to authority. It’s best not to confuse the two.Report

          • Avatar Murali says:

            If there is historical data for temperatures as well as data about the concentration of these gases you could plot a time series for the two. If the change in temperature trends coincides with the change in concentration of gases…

            Correlation is not causation but there probably is lots of other data as well. Data that suggests one causal model (AGW) rather than some otherReport

            • Avatar j r says:

              My point is that there is the application of the scientific method and there is the appeal to the authority of “science.” Saying that some claim about the future has been “verified by experiment and observation” is the latter.Report

              • Avatar Murali says:

                Appeal to authority is only a logical fallacy in that someone being an authority doesn’t make it right. But if we’re good bayesians, “because science says so” is a perfectly legitimate move to make. That is what Science is: a legitimate and public authority on a given subject matter. If there is a robust scientific consensus on a subject matter, then you don’t really need much else to have high confidence on the thing on which there is consensus.Report

              • Avatar Damon says:

                A consensus amount a sub group of scientists is not a consensus of the general population.Report

              • Avatar Murali says:

                A consensus of the people who actually look at the data for a living is the consensus that matters. The opinions of other scientists who are experts in their own fields but not in meterological sciences do not count. Just as the opinions of richard dawkins or stephen jay gould counts for shit in everything outside of evolutionary biology. Who do you look to for the best answers about the economy? Economists. Same for climate. Why would you think that someone who doesn’t study something for a living knows better than the collective brain of everyone who does in fact study that thing for a living?Report

              • Avatar Damon says:

                “A consensus of the people who actually look at the data for a living is the consensus that matters.”

                No it isn’t.

                The only consensus that matters (ostensibly) are the voters. The true consensus is contributors and voters, in that order. Neither of those are heavily populated by climate scientists, or scientists, or high math skilled folk.Report

          • Avatar Oscar Gordon says:


            Yes, @aaron-w is not being precise here, but that doesn’t make him wrong.

            As I’ve said before, there are valid criticisms we can level at the data sets, and the models, and the software that runs the models, but the basic physics underlying it all is High School level physics. You can’t keep dumping CO2 into the atmosphere and not increase it’s ability to hold heat.

            The biggest questions are not about that fact, they are about how the global climate will respond to it. Are there feedbacks that will counter the increase in CO2 concentration? How do they work? What are the effects? What is the timeframe they work under?

            There is evidence such feedbacks exist, but it’s hard to get a read on the specifics, so climate scientists are stuck speculating on them. Given that we are doing a lot of guesswork on that front, there is a measure of prudence in cutting back on CO2 emissions. Where Saul is, IMHO, mistaken is that it requires massive government intervention. My position is it requires some restructuring of incentives, which could have been done long ago with little pain, except for the fact there are lots of entrenched interests who don’t want to. And I’m not just talking about Oil & Coal barons. There are lots of coal miners and oil workers who aren’t interested in trying to retrain as solar or wind farm maintenance workers.Report

    • Avatar Murali says:

      Its not entirely that. It’s also the fact that libertarianism, for a long time, was an odd-ball view (have things really changed?). People who are libertarian are more likely to be contrarian. And if you are contrarian about politics (picking something outside the mainstream) you are also likely to be contrarian about lots of other stuff.Report

      • Avatar Damon says:

        Yep, the libertarians and the anarchists can be VERY contrarian. They also see things in different ways from the “norms”.Report

  5. Avatar Oscar Gordon says:

    Re: Kool-aid

    Where you being facetious, or does the Jim Jones reference truly escape you?Report

    • Avatar Adrian Rutt says:

      I know that’s where it comes from…Report

    • Avatar dexter says:

      @oscar-Gordon, There is more than one kind of kool aid. With Kesey’s kool aid the end result is very different than Jone’s, especially is the Dead are jamming.Report

      • Avatar Oscar Gordon says:

        Ken Kesey? Merry Pranksters?Report

      • Avatar dexter says:

        @oscar-Gordon, “Think I’ll go out to the seashore and let the waves wash my mind. Open up my head now just to see what I can find.” Or if you prefer 12 strings instead of organs , ” How is it that I can come up to here and be still floating, and never hit bottom just keep falling through.”
        I was talking more about Owsley than the pranksters. Ain’t nothing like sunshine, especially when it is orange.Report

  6. Avatar North says:

    I think it’s spelled as it’s pronounced. Sheeple is basically exactly how it’s spoken, Sheople sounds like some sub-brand of Snapple.

    My own subjective experience is that sheeple is commonly used on the economic left, the anti-GMO and anti-vax brigades and the alt-right. So two unambiguously left wing groups, one universal group of idiots and one unambiguously left wing group.Report

    • Avatar Saul Degraw says:

      I think you mean “one unambiguously right wing group.” when talking about the alt-right.Report

    • Avatar Richard Hershberger says:

      I think it’s spelled as it’s pronounced

      This, absolutely. “Sheep” is phonetically transparent, as is “sheeple.” “People” is not, being one of those words that shows its etymology, which has long since been outstripped by the changes to its pronunciation. “Sheople” would be simply a confusing mess of a word.Report

    • Avatar DavidTC says:

      I think it’s spelled as it’s pronounced. Sheeple is basically exactly how it’s spoken, Sheople sounds like some sub-brand of Snapple.

      You keep telling people that, just sitting there blindly repeating what the corporate media says. They only exist to sell ads, not tell you any real facts that might distract from their convenient narrative, their ‘The American people only have two choices’ media narrative that keeps the American people from getting what *you* want.

      Wake up sheople! They’re deliberately misspelling it to distract you from the real story!

      The real story, of course, is Snapple, and how the corporate whores in the media refuse to present them as an option to the ‘cola’. You won’t hear anything about Snapple’s tea, which is on-to-go iced tea with multiple levels of sweetness, for whatever you desire. No, you get Pepsi, or you get Coke, and they work very hard to keep it that way.Report

    • Avatar El Muneco says:

      When I saw “Sheople”, my first thought was that it was an Old Testament name – a king or city.

      My impression is that “sheeple” is pretty equal-opportunity. You’re just as likely to see it from a contrarian on the left as a contrarian on the right.

      In either case, the implication is “Anyone who looked at all the facts would inevitably come to the same conclusion as I did, since I have leet thinking skillz. If you have a different opinion than mine, even if it’s different from the orthodoxy, you’re just following the herd anyway.”

      I forget if the first cite in the OED came from Dunning or Krueger.Report

      • Avatar Glyph says:

        Sheople, not Constantinople.Report

      • Avatar dragonfrog says:

        I think, more than being equally likely to come from a rightist as a leftist, it’s actually more likely to come from a crank whose views are sufficiently out to lunch that they don’t really align with either traditional “wing.”

        Paranoid conspiracy theories about chemtrails and vaccines and black helicopters and shapeshifting lizards and 9/11-inside-job business and HAARP and water fluoridation and GMOs and global warming denialism and sovereign citizenry and cancer treatment suppression and etc. etc. – while some are more popular among vaguely leftist kooks, and others with vaguely rightist kooks, the main distinguishing feature of their adherents is that they are likely to believe in other kooky theories, including those that ‘cross the aisle’ (a heart-warming tale of kooky ecumenism).

        These aren’t folks notable for a real firm or consistent grasp on the main theories behind the various parties’ or movements’ goals. If anything, I’d guess they’re probably most strongly associated with “I don’t vote because politicians are all taking orders from the same shadowy entity”-istsReport

  7. Avatar Rufus F. says:

    I’ve often wondered if the makers of Flavor Aid feel they dodged a bullet on everyone thinking it was Kool Aid at Jonestown.Report

  8. Avatar Will Truman says:

    Don’t be a sheeple, be a sherson.Report

  9. Avatar aaron david says:

    “Let me go tell my peops…”

    It just doesn’t work.Report

  10. Avatar DavidTC says:

    BTW, how the hell was this not linked to yet:

  11. Avatar j r says:

    In my more conspiratorial moments, I can only imagine our bureaucratic gods sitting on Olympus laughing as we peasants squabble and call each other sheeple.

    It’s not a conspiracy; it’s just the way the world works. Power is largely non-ideological.

    My ultimate point—if I can extract it—is that this accusation is nonsensical and, unsurprisingly, just another evasive tactic.

    I think that you are right on this larger point. And the key to understanding this is in understanding how propaganda works. Essentially, what propaganda does is to take a point of view and construct a narrative meant to convey that point of view. Bad propaganda is bad, because that narrative is easy to deconstruct and you instinctively reject the attempted manipulation. That is easy enough to see. What is more difficult to see is that good propaganda is good, because it conceals the message under an additional layer. Good propaganda can be just as easy to deconstruct, but the message is not in the narrative, it’s in the deconstruction of the narrative.

    You want to understand how the media conveys messages? Watch Inception. If you read negative reviews of Inception, they all focus on how the dream sequences are straight out of bad movies. And that is the whole point.

    This is also the key to why you perceive more of this coming from the left. Folks on the left tend to be adept at deconstructing narratives. And that means that they are less likely to fall for bad propaganda, but much more likely to be convinced by good propaganda.Report

  12. according to the Marxist-trained Leftist we—pretty much everyone—actually don’t even know that we’re sheeple.