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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

Extraordinary Popular Delusions And The Madness Of Crowds, Charles McKay's 1841 classic work on mass hysteria and national crazes, still surprisingly readable and engaging. Among the classic examples in McKay's book are the South Sea Bubble, one of the earliest and largest financial bubbles, and the witch hunts of Europe (related: try the 1628 Witch Hunt simulation). Most people remember him best for his history of Tulipmania, the Dutch flower-speculation explosion of 1647 and 1648... except that it may not have been a delusion at all, but rather a rational response to changes in regulation.
posted by blahblahblah on Apr 23, 2006 - 22 comments

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