People in crowds do not spontaneously de-evolve into subhuman beasts


What, even riot cops?

It said “people,” not whatever riot cops are.


A century?

Mobs of Romans during the days of the Republic were notorious for being manipulated into trashing opponents. The Forum was a popular starting point.

And then there is the whole Pilate and Jesus thing. Provocateurs worked the crowd to get Jesus crucified.

We’re not the first (and the Romans weren’t either) to study how mobs work and how to manipulate them.

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But Le Bon provided a pseudoscientific excuse for crackdowns on protesters and strikers, when police and politicians wanted one. It belongs in the same category as “drepatomania,” “sluggish schizophrenia,” and “an unrelated heart condition triggered while the police were subduing the subject.”


Next thing you know they’ll say kettling crowds isn’t effective either…

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This is from the historically most violently antisemitic literary narrative ever written, intended to justify Christian supersession of the Jews and Judaism, a narrative would be used for milennia as the bedrock to justify robbery, ethnic cleansing, rape, murder, and then genocide.
This is where the story is told how ‘The Jews’ showed up as a mob to condemn the kind innocent healer for claiming to be a god and asking that an imprisoned murderer instead be released, this mob was allegedly so rowdy that the Roman governor literally washed his hands of the whole affair and bowed to their wishes. According to the story they then accepted the innocent blood of Jesus on themselves and on their children forever, this collective acceptance of guilt .
The writer gets to own the narrative, this is perhaps the most extreme example known to mankind.
(edit)The truth is that the Jews were a nightmare for Rome, they were the only people to ever throw off the empire at the height of its power, though that was only for two years and lead to the land being genocided/cleansed of most Jews and Judea renamed Palestine after the biblical Philistines.



“People in crowds do not spontaneously de-evolve into subhuman beasts…”

Now there’s someone who’s never been to an away game at Millwall FC!

It is not spontaneous, it is a chemical reaction that consumes ethanol.


When he asserts that crowds can be reasoned with, I would love to hear some specific examples of that. It’s a fascinating idea.

I suspect some confirmation bias on the part of authorities- every time an authority is successfully challenged, there’s been a large, scary (to authority) crowd, Thus, all crowds are dangerous (to authority).The right to peaceably assemble seems a refreshing experiment… Until you see for yourself how easily it’s subverted by a single undercover cop pretending to be violent.

I dunno, there are some very subjective effects I experience when in the presence of a large, focused crowd that don’t seem possible to measure objectively. I first noticed it at Burning Man, but now when I visit a different city I can still feel something very different from where I usually live. It’s better described by poetry than science at this point. I call it “mass cathexis” since it feels so much like what can happen with a single nother person. But I can also feel it in a small group of a dozen or less. It’s not the size of the group that matters so much, as the sense of identity that forms.

I suppose animal studies could shine some light on this, if you accept the idea that they have emotional states that resemble ours.

The story seems to be widely discredited and more of a later antisemitic trope.

There is reason to believe that Barabbas (“son of the father”) may have been one of the names applied to Jesus himself. If there had been people shouting “Give us Barabbas,” then the meaning would have been the reverse of the common version, as is so often the case with Bible stories.

I’d heard that about Barabbas as well. The spin I’ve heard from some scholars is that is part of how the crowd was fooled into releasing the wrong guy. Tell people in the crowd that shouting Barabbas means you are asking for Jesus. Talk about running a scam! But I don’t buy it since there was wide skepticism, even among the disciples, that Jesus was the son of god.

Then again, I’ve never understood antisemitism. It was one ruling sect of Jews that battled with Jesus and got him crucified. And even if you blame all Jews, then as a Christian you should be thanking Jews. If they hadn’t, then under Christian doctrine no one would be saved. If people were a bit more Christian, they’d be sending “Thank You” cards at Easter to Jews. Weird, maybe creepy, but kind of nice.

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