Have you seen the new Disney film Zootopia yet? No! Then get yourself immediately, without delay, to your local multiplex, buy your ticket and sit in a state of heightened anticipation, waiting for the film to begin. I watched it yesterday in an auditorium filled with school holiday kids and their parents. And I was mesmerised. It’s essentially an animated cop buddy movie, starring Judy Hopps as a naive but heroic newcomer and Police Academy graduate and Nick Wilde and a cool but cynical local, who becomes her sidekick in the adventure. The film swoops and shimmers brilliantly, appealing equally to kids and adults, as it races (except for the scenes involving the sloths) towards its conclusion. And being Disney, there has to be a bit of a moral and at least one bad guy. I don’t think I’ll spoil it too much by revealing that the villain of the peace is………us.

By us, I don’t mean human beings (there are none in the film), but sheep. In fact, sheep in sheep clothing. You see, in the film, the sheep represent the pliable majority, for whom ‘the greatest fear is…….well anything that the media transmits which is, however remotely, threatening to us’. Status quo is everywhere and everything. No one has the slightest intention of standing up and being counted. And that, insidiously, allows really threats to go unchecked and opportunities bypassed. As Robin William’s character in Dead Poet’s Society implores his charges to overcome ‘the difficulty in maintaining your own beliefs in the face of others’.

The sinister risk we face daily is that of Group Think, where group members try to minimize conflict and reach a consensus decision without critically evaluating alternative viewpoints. The fear of being the lone voice, the minority report. In Psychological experiments, when all group members (confederates) except the last one, express an obviously wrong opinion (e.g. one line of several being the longest when it isn’t), the last member (experimentee) feels very conflicted and often agrees with the mob. Apparently we react in this way for a very good reason. For much of our evolution, exclusion from the group meant significantly increased risk and possible death (thus greatly reducing the chances of reproducing and propagating your genes). Consequently, we feel extremely uneasy when put in that position. That’s how radicalisation happens - small groups of your tribe all getting together and persuading themselves that it would be a good idea if you planted a bomb somewhere.

However, it only one of the above confederates expresses a contrary (and in this case correct) view, the experimentee is always emboldened to give the right answer. Always. And, fortunately, most of us are no longer in the position where we have to depend on the crowd for our protection. So you can change the world for the better, like Judy Hopps, one minority report at a time. Escape your fleece today.