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7/22/04
Russell Sears: Herding and Markets

Pardon me forgetting who posted the description of birds swarming to food, before my vacation. But during Vacation, I made several observation of man and animals. Both Herding and Swarming.

Herding I would define as zebra like instinct to seek safety in groups or gathering together out of fear.

While swarming is an opportunistic behavior to hunt where conditions are best, or gathering together out of greed.

A few observations;

  1. We went to MT near Yellowstone. The lodge owner described the season in the swarming pattern, tourist in summer, hunters in fall and spring, skiers in winter.
  2. People swarm to lunch and diner, often acting surprised at the predicable crowd. Best time saving advice I have heard for vacation. If eating at a concession/restaurant always eat lunch near 11:30, never a few minutes after 12:00. At Disney one year ate at 11:50 walked in no line, while eating saw line form by 12:10 you had about 45min to hour wait.
  3. People swarm to attractions, fewest lines early harder to reach places.
  4. Our guide telling us about bears swarming to fish, even though gathered tightly, they stake out best spot for biggest and strongest.
  5. Elk females herd, but males swarm during winter when abundant grass can only be found in few places sheltered from heavy snow. The elk feeding patterns are predictable enough that one stretch of the highway system has initiated an automated advanced warning light signal system, to signal that an elk is on the highway, for use during winter.
  6. Riding horses on the trail is generally only a task for the lead horseman, as the other horses are too afraid to turn any other way. The only real task was keeping them from following too close.
  7. It was not clear to me why mountain goats "herd" from their predators. As they clearly could spot any predator or out run/climb them.
  8. People are told to "herd" for protection on a hike. Yet, running/ mountain hiking by myself, pushing at my own brisk pace and making my own singular discoveries was the highly of the trip for me.
  9. The more aggressive did not herd, but would swarm if conditions dictated, male elk, bull Bison, Grizzlies, eagles. Yet, most preferred solitude, if food did not dictate. But some did swarm as primary method of hunting, wolves, coyotes.
  10. Both herding and swarming is instinctive.
  11. Perhaps what makes Wolves, elk, bison untamable as their cousins dogs, goats, and cattle, is that they cannot herd. Yet this ability to opportunistically swarm tricks us into believing they are tamable. But instinct insist that they must opportunistically hunt, and we often are shocked as they bite/gorge the hand that feeds them.
  12. Socialism maybe thought of as the effort to convince all to "herd". That man works best if closely protected together. Capitalism maybe thought of as the effort to let all roam about freely. That man works best if the individual is allowed to pursue his own interest. Yet often it is in the individuals best interest to cooperatively swarm.