There’s an interesting report this week in The New Scientist on the wisdom of crowds. It summarizes a number of recent studies showing that crowds may be wiser than we’ve been told. Here’s an excerpt:
The “unruly mob” concept is usually taken as read and used as the basis for crowd control measures and evacuation procedures across the world. Yet it is almost entirely a myth. Research into how people behave at demonstrations, sports events, music festivals and other mass gatherings shows not only that crowds nearly always act in a highly rational way, but also that when facing an emergency, people in a crowd are more likely to cooperate than panic. Paradoxically, it is often actions such as kettling [corralling the entire crowd into a small area] that lead to violence breaking out. Often, the best thing authorities can do is leave a crowd to its own devices.