The Herd Mentality

Sunday, March 1, 2009 – The Herd Mentality


Men, it has been well said, think in herds; it will be seen that they go mad in herds, while they only recover their senses slowly, and one by one. ~ Charles Mackay


Collective fear stimulates herd instinct, and tends to produce ferocity toward those who are not regarded as members of the herd. ~ Bertrand Russell


To make a goal of comfort or happiness has never appealed to me; a system of ethics built on this basis would be sufficient only for a herd of cattle. ~ Albert Einstein


You cannot make a man by standing a sheep on its hind-legs. But by standing a flock of sheep in that position you can make a crowd of men. ~ Max Beerbohm


We have no organ at all for knowledge, for ”truth”: we ”know” (or believe or imagine) precisely as much as may be useful in the interest of the human herd, the species: and even what is here called ”usefulness” is in the end only a belief, something imagined and perhaps precisely that most fatal piece of stupidity by which we shall one day perish. ~ Friedrich Nietzsche


Morality is the herd-instinct in the individual. ~ Friedrich Nietzsche


You will never escape the will of the mob; about the best anyone has ever figured out how to do is herd them into voting booths. ~ Barry Shein


Lions, wolves, and vultures don’t live together in herds, droves or flocks. Of all animals of prey, man is the only sociable one. Every one of us preys upon his neighbor, and yet we herd together. ~ John Gay


The terrible, cold, cruel part is Wall Street. Rivers of gold flow there from all over the earth, and death comes with it. There, as nowhere else, you feel a total absence of the spirit: herds of men who cannot count past three, herds more who cannot get past six, scorn for pure science and demoniacal respect for the present. And the terrible thing is that the crowd that fills the street believes that the world will always be the same and that it is their duty to keep that huge machine running, day and night, forever. This is what comes of a Protestant morality, that I, as a (thank God) typical Spaniard, found unnerving. ~ Federico Garcia Lorca


Every society honors its live conformists, and its dead troublemakers. ~ Mignon McLaughlin, The Neurotic’s Notebook, 1960


Stubbornness does have its helpful features. You always know what you are going to be thinking tomorrow. ~ Glen Beaman


The average man is a conformist, accepting miseries and disasters with the stoicism of a cow standing in the rain. ~ Colin Wilson


We are half ruined by conformity; but we should be wholly ruined without it. ~ Charles Dudley Warner


Ain’t no man can avoid being average, but there ain’t no man got to be common. ~ Satchel Paige


When people are free to do as they please, they usually imitate each other. ~ Eric Hoffer, Passionate State of Mind, 1955


Custom will reconcile people to any atrocity; and fashion will drive them to acquire any custom. ~ George Bernard Shaw


Fashion is what you adopt when you don’t know who you are. ~ Quentin Crisp


Forgive him, for he believes that the customs of his tribe are the laws of nature. ~ George Bernard Shaw


Most people can’t understand how others can blow their noses differently than they do. ~ Turgenev


And what is a good citizen? Simply one who never says, does or thinks anything that is unusual. Schools are maintained in order to bring this uniformity up to the highest possible point. A school is a hopper into which children are heaved while they are still young and tender; therein they are pressed into certain standard shapes and covered from head to heels with official rubber-stamps. ~ H. L. Mencken


I was part of that strange race of people aptly described as spending their lives doing things they detest to make money they don’t want to buy things they don’t need to impress people they dislike. ~ Emile Henry Gauvreau


I can’t understand why people are frightened of new ideas. I’m frightened of the old ones. ~ John Cage


Nobody realizes that some people expend tremendous energy merely to be normal. ~ Albert Camus


No man can cause more grief than that one clinging blindly to the vices of his ancestors. ~ William Faulkner


Public opinion… requires us to think other men’s thoughts, to speak other men’s words, to follow other men’s habits. ~ Walter Bagehot, Biographical Studies, 1907


None are more hopelessly enslaved than those who falsely believe they are free. ~ Johann Wolfgang von Goethe


The reward for conformity is that everyone likes you but yourself. ~ Rita Mae Brown


Civilization advances by extending the number of important operations which we can perform without thinking. ~ Alfred North Whitehead


We submit to the majority because we have to. But we are not compelled to call our attitude of subjection a posture of respect. ~Ambrose Bierce, Epigrams


Roads are just a suggestion, like pants. ~ Homer Simpson


I don’t necessarily agree with everything I say. ~ Marshall McLuhan