Conformity: The Vice of the Coward

Stacey Rudin
5 min readMay 24, 2021


One of my favorite phrases, coined by Robert Greene, is “resist the downward pull of the group.” Remembering this every day, every hour, is necessary to keep our minds free and independent, able to innovate and decide what is best for us, as opposed to what is best for the rule-makers, the most powerful in society. Everything must be questioned.

Historically, cigarettes were encouraged for pregnant women. Mercury was administered as a medicine. Lead was in all of the paint; asbestos in all of the insulation. Butter and lard were good, then bad, then good again. Populations were systematically killed with the cooperation of nearly all of polite society. These things happened, and they were completely bizarre and crazy, yet they happened. “Everyone was doing it.”

Bad actors know about this, about the madness of crowds. They’ve used it for millennia to control the masses, culminating in the biggest tragedies the world has ever seen. In the present era of mass data collection, manipulation of populations is even easier. The more they know about us, the better they can tailor their messaging.

This use of manipulation on a population-wide scale used to be highly controversial. When JFK ran for president, back when computers were new, his campaign enlisted a startup called the Simulmatics Corporation to create a computer model of the voting public, compiled using surveys, then asked this virtual populace how it would respond to various civil rights messaging. JFK used that messaging and won, but when his tactics leaked, the public was outraged. They wanted authenticity, not a data-driven betrayal. Who knew what JFK really thought about civil rights? Not them. He’d merely figured out what they wanted to hear, and said it.

Viewed through the lens of today’s data goldmine, the social science models used by politicians like JFK back in 1960 were laughably unsophisticated. Yet they still worked. Today, tech companies have all — and I do mean all — of our data, so they can do a much better job of controlling us. Combine this with Robert Greene’s 27th “Law of Power,” and you get the “COVID-19” propaganda campaign and resulting cult, complete with universal mask-wearing and the exclusion of “the unvaccinated” from polite society.

The 27th Law of Power: Play on People’s Need to Believe to Create a Cultlike Following

People have an overwhelming desire to believe in something. Become the focal point of such desire by offering them a cause, a new faith to follow. Keep your words vague but full of promise; emphasize enthusiasm over rationality and clear thinking. Give your new disciples rituals to perform, ask them to make sacrifices on your behalf. In the absence of organized religion and grand causes, your new belief system will bring you untold power.

As Greene explains, charlatans understand that “the greater the group they gather around themselves, the easier it is to deceive.” In a group setting, “people are more emotional” and “less able to reason” due to the “communal mood of rapt attention.” This makes it “impossible to find the distance to be skeptical . . . any deficiencies in the charlatan’s ideas are hidden by the zeal of the mass. Passion and enthusiasm sweeps through the crowd like a contagion, and they react violently to anyone who dares to spread a seed of doubt.”

Why does this happen? Because humans are what humans are. Like bees, they behave a certain way in the hive. When they see “everyone else” doing something, they assume it must be the right thing. They want to be popular, and to “do the right thing,” so they follow the crowd, regardless of what the crowd is doing at the moment. In the 1940s, the crowd was burning Jews in ovens. In 2021, the crowd is bankrupting business owners, prohibiting children from breathing, and requiring perfectly healthy people to receive an experimental injection in order to go to the theater. This is “the downward pull of the group” in action — the conformity of cowards sinking the entire societal ship.

Resist the Downward Pull of the Group: The Law of Conformity

“We have a side to our character that we are generally unaware of — our social personality, the different person we become when we operate in groups of people. In the group setting, we unconsciously imitate what others are saying and doing. We think differently, more concerned with fitting in and believing what others believe. We feel different emotions, infected by the group mood. We are more prone to taking risks, to acting irrationally, because everyone else is. This social personality can come to dominate who we are. Listening so much to others and conforming our behavior to them, we slowly lose a sense of our uniqueness and the ability to think for ourselves. The only solution is to develop self-awareness and a superior understanding of the changes that occur in us in groups.”

Knowing this about human nature, today’s tyrant can easily use social media (and mass media) to create the impression of a completely unified group. Astroturf propaganda was used by China early on to create the impression that “lockdown works,” and any politician who fails to impose one is “committing genocide.” Now that the data is in, we know that the people imposing the lockdowns were actually the ones committing genocide. But the cult cannot admit that — doing so would at this point be blasphemy.

In short, it was very easy to know how to manipulate today’s society into “lockdowns,” masks, “social distancing,” and universal experimental injections for people at statistically zero disease-risk. The manipulator merely needed to create the impression of a very scary risk, and use virtue-based messaging to convince the fearful, emotional masses that (1) they indeed should be very scared, and (2) an action was available to them to ensure not their own safety, but “the safety of others.” They were not cowards; by adamantly supporting “lockdowns,” they were heroic saviors of humankind. “Just obey the rules, and you will save lives.” Boy, did this messaging work.

The manipulators now have an emotionally vulnerable population on the defensive, unwilling to concede — even after unequivocal data on the failure of lockdowns is in — that its actions resulted in untold damages and saved no one. The cult members will never admit that they were taken in by the classic logical fallacy, post hoc, ergo propter hoc: “because the disease went away, your actions worked.” These people were duped, on some level they know it, and as a result, they are willing to look the other way when their unvaccinated fellow man is forced to wear a symbol of “the unclean.”

Now we know how historical tragedies unfold.

Most people stay “safe” in the crowd, unwilling to stand out, infected by the group mood. Whatever the majority is doing is the most comfortable course of action, and most people default to comfort. They fail to understand the value of discomfort, and of following the few courageous people who are willing to endure that discomfort by standing apart from the crowd.