Am I sure human beings are herd animals? What I am sure of is that human beings do not fit the description that is almost universally given to them.
In popular thinking, a person is an extraordinary God like creature that is saintly until proven otherwise. All people are deemed saintly until proven otherwise. Human nature is good and people are peaceful unless provoked. Only God is a better entity than a human being. Did I leave out charitable?
Economics adds that people act independently on the basis of full and relevant information. People have rational preferences among outcomes. People are naturally industrious and prefer work to being idle. These are the most basic and prevalent assumptions made in the study of economics.
I am telling you that if people really had the positive attributes ascribed to them, the country and the world would look a lot different than it does today. I start by stating that the basic assumptions we start with are all completely wrong so there is not a way to get good results from a mainstream economist.
If we change these assumptions so that they are realistic, we would get the exact look the world has to it. How do we change these time honored assumptions? It is easy. Discard all of life’s euphemisms. They are an insurmountable handicap when studying human behavior. Then watch groups of humans from whole countries to graduating classes and clearly see that people hardly ever act independently and usually have no relevant information. Work is a second choice.
In the 50,000 years of history we know about, there has never been a society with evidence that human beings have such wonderful characteristics. In fact, when in groups, their behavior is about the same as other animals which live in herds.
Here is how it appears.
There is a basic human instinct where the species itself is exalted. Each herd of which a human is a member gets exalted. (country, school, hobby network etc.) Then it is very instinctive to exalt oneself within each herd. It is also instinctive to look to government to solve problems. It would have to be. Not once in 50,000 years has any society had a net gain by putting government in charge of solving a problem. It would have to be instinctive or people could be naturally irrational or stupid. For 50,000 years governments have served as ways to exploit people and problems. Still government is the first thing sought. People don’t learn because their group behavior is hard wired.
People communicate with one another psychically but without realizing they are doing it. Each person broadcasts and receives images and impressions but there are no words.
All folks are not born with the same potential. A small fraction are born with political or sociopathic personalities. These become our elected leaders. Others work closely with government to get what they want. While citizens are charged with the responsibility to rein in government, they worship leaders instead. They seek out messiahs rather than look at representatives as people they manage.
Independent thought is rare. Most of what passes for original are only sound bites a mind records and identifies with. As few as 3% actually do the thinking for everyone else.
In studying human behavior, a lot of grief is avoided just by discarding the silly notions that govern thinking in the social sciences.
There are people on the planet who would be far better at studying human instinctive behavior than I am. We know that horses live and act in herds because we watch them and it is clear. Observe people without the handicap of euphemisms and it is clear that humans have a strong herding nature. Herding is the path of least resistance. People can think and act as individuals but normally they don’t.