Saturday, August 05, 2006

The Madness of Crowds

In reading the history of nations, we find that, like individuals, they have their whims and their peculiarities; their seasons of excitement and recklessness, when they care not what they do. We find that whole communities suddenly fix their minds upon one object, and go mad in its pursuit; that millions of people become simultaneously impressed with one delusion, and run after it, till their attention is caught by some new folly more captivating than the first. We see one nation suddenly seized, from its highest to its lowest members, with a fierce desire of military glory; another as suddenly becoming crazed upon a religious scruple, and neither of them recovering its senses until it has shed rivers of blood and sowed a harvest of groans and tears, to be reaped by its posterity.

The one constant in this world is human nature.


Christophe said...

I fundamentally disagree that human nature is constant.

It is constant under certain material conditions but greater information and a fundamental re-organisation and re-distribution of resources is the only way to really test the assumption.

When you put food on a table and tell the rats beneath that there's only enough for three of 'em.

Well, things are going to get ugly.

If human nature really was innate then we might as well put up the white flags now...

Consa said...

Hi Duplex
Just passing through, nice blog, pm me the link on ghpc and I will put it on the links page for you.
Keep up the good work!
ps: found this on

Consa said...

here's some news:-

Alex said...

That's a neat blog you have.
The link to the Spanish movement has a typo (dinga -> digna)

I will write something on "yield" myself. Basically, residential
income is less than nominal because of maintenance and other expenses.
It is also less secure than a bank, because you are betting that the
renter will not default on you. Relatively safe one, but a bet
nonetheless. I've read that the coefficent for commercial property should be 55% of cash flow...


To get the true cap rate on the property you are considering, get the true current annual rents, not projected rents. Then multiply that number by 100% - 45% = 55% to get the annual net operating income. Divide that number by your purchase price to get your cap rate. If that number is greater than your annual mortgage constant, you will have positive cash flow.

Terence said...

I don't quite agree with this because overall it seems to support the notion of writing off crowds as useless and THEREFORE we must turn to experts or at least would be a justification for that.

If you read the book: The Wisdom of Crowds, (summary here: ) -In it the author stresses that crowds are wiser than individuals but that one essential condition must hold and that is there must be diversity in the crowd. That is diversity of information.

I think the madnesses in crowds referred to above reflects those situations where there is a lack of diversity. Indeed that is the role of propaganda to give essentially the same view from multiple sources of information to deceive people and give them poor quality and non-diverse information. This is how stock market and property bubbles arise because the crowd is reading the same information. It would explain how the people in the USA were hoodwinked into the Iraqi War. Again a successful campaign of deception.

So the principle is if people are given access to a diverse set of opinions and information, then in those cases they are wiser than the experts with the privisio that it is fine to have experts in the crowd, but it is not the experts alone who contribute all the wisdom.