Swarm Intelligence vs Mob Rule

The Birds and the Bees
An individual ant, bee or bird doesn't seem all that brilliant, yet the behaviors of colonies, hives and flocks are efficient, effective, complex, orchestrated and...in a word...brilliant.

Scientists continue to be intrigued and baffled by the genius of swarms, where intelligence isn't resident within any particular ant, bee or bird, but rather, is manifest within the group itself.

In a National Geographic article, ant-researcher Deborah Gordon said it this way, "simple creatures following simple rules, each one acting on local information. No ant sees the big picture."

That's fine for insects and fowl but that certainly doesn't apply to us humans, right?

After all, we're each blessed with top-of-the-food-chain brains that have devised complex and intricate systems of leadership and structured management.


Professor Jens Krause of the University of Leed's Faculty of Biological Sciences believes that groups of humans -- even with all our sophisticated mental software -- behave in ways that aren't always all that sophisticated.

Professor Krause and his associates believe that a small minority of about 5% control the actions of a human crowd.

Experiments were conducted where groups of people were asked to walk randomly around a large hall. Embedded in the groups were a few people with instructions about where to walk but with orders not to talk to others in the crowd.

In every experiment, followers fell into formation behind the embedded members, self-organizing into winding, snake-like structures.

Does that help to explain disturbing scenes as in the video below?

Not quite as elegant as birds-in-flight, is it?
And while we're on the subject, hasn't every war been an unfortunate game of follow-the-leader with entire nations falling into snake-like formation behind a tiny few who seem to act like they know where we all should be going?

Who's really in charge here?
On the lighter side, what happens when we turn the equation around to consider how the individual deals with the will of the crowd

We touched on the topic of conformity yesterday in our Psychologia Apocalypzia post.

Let's take another look in a video that is funny but also quite frightening, no?