prophilosophy

Professional philosophy news

Crowds are groups of people, not entities themselves

According to the New York Times.

We’ve long believed that physical crowds are emotional, irrational and prone to violence. Over the last decade, we’ve come to think of virtual crowds as sources of wisdom that can’t be found in individuals. Both these ideas treat crowds as entities, rather than groups of people — an idea that has its origins in 19th-century sociology, which, according to scientists studying crowd behavior today, is deeply flawed.

The assumption that crowds have some non-fragmented consciousness leads us to the false dichotomy we draw between physical and virtual crowds: one is dumb, the other is smart. But in both cases, we’re placing too much emphasis on the crowd as distinct from the people involved in it.

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