This link is to an article by Seth Frey and associates at UC Davis published just recently. They are computational scientists.
It used to be that philosophers, social scientists of all kinds, ethologists and biologists studied group behaviour. Now the computational scientists are getting into the act. But this group and others use ‘flocking’ rather than sociality to address the issue. They argue that the propensity we have for flocking trumps rationality. We, they argue, would rather follow the flock than think for ourselves. I don’t think we have to look too hard to find evidence of that.
I’m working on a post that argues that we are by definition social animals and that we seem to prefer gathering together than living in isolation. Cities are essentially flocks of people. Even in rural areas the tendency is still for us to group our homes together in settlements. It seems to be built in. No matter how much some of us protest to the contrary, we do seem to require each other’s company in a big way. Yes, of course, we do it for security and mutual support, but that would be a rational explanation. Seth Frey and his colleagues argue that it’s not about logical reasons like security and mutual support that we seem to congregate and hang out in groups, it’s instinctual. They argue that we are an animal species after all, and a sexually reproducing one, and we flock like other species out of instinct rather than out of reason.
I’ve thought that for decades, as have a lot of thinkers over the millennia, but it’s tough for me to accept the idea because as a teacher and writer, I have worked hard to encourage people to incorporate a logical and rational bent into their thinking. Now, these computational scientists are arguing that it may be all for nought.