The story of Abraham and Isaac is probably the most shocking example of submissiveness to authority in the written records of our civilization. However, this tragedy is rarely used as an illustration of blind obedience to a mindlessly cruel authority. Our hierarchical society instinctively defends the privilege possessed by authorities and trusts them even in fields such as science, where self-criticism is the highest value.
In the animal kingdom, the mechanisms of obedience and blind imitation have biologically justified functions. Looking at animal behaviour may therefore, paradoxically, allow us greater insights into this human tendency.
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