Beware Of Blind Conformance
September 13, 2022
I recently came across a rivetting TED Talk by James Surowiecki titled “the power and the danger of online crowds.” The core thesis of this talk is that as people, when we act en masse, there is a collective intelligence that complements the individual intellect. However, sometimes, groupthink can undermine individual intelligence. There is pressure on individuals to conform to the beliefs of the group.
He uses the metaphor of the Ant colony to illustrate this point.
“No one Ant knows what it is doing individually, but collectively Ants can reach incredibly intelligent outcomes. However, occasionally Ants go astray. If an army of ants are wandering around and they get lost, they start to follow a simple rule: Just do what the ant in front of you does. What happens is that the Ants eventually end up in a circle. There’s this famous example of one that was 1,200 feet long and lasted for two days; and the Ants just kept marching around and around in a circle until they died.”
Someone wise said something witty- Be careful when you blindly follow the Masses. Sometimes the M is silent 🙂 !!