The Wisdom of Mobs

By Ben Cohen

Interesting new research from the U.K implies that overly aggressive crowd control is the best way of exacerbating violence rather than stemming it. Crowds left to their own devices follow a logic of their own, and more often than not, respond intelligently to their surroundings:

“In

many ways, crowds are the solution,” says psychologist Stephen Reicher,

who studies group behaviour at the University of St Andrews, UK. Rather

than being prone to irrational behaviour and violence, members of a

crowd undergo a kind of identity shift that drives them to act in the

best interests of themselves and everyone around them. This identity

shift is often strongest in times of danger or threat. “The ‘mad mob’

is not an explanation, but a fantasy,” says Reicher.

Ben Cohen is the editor and founder of The Daily Banter. He lives in Washington DC where he does podcasts, teaches Martial Arts, and tries to be a good father. He would be extremely disturbed if you took him too seriously.