I have begun to consider the starling murmuration as a metaphor for human culture. Call it a spontaneously self-organizing group comprised of individuals that appear to be completely autonomous but nevertheless both respond to one another and contribute to the flow of the whole.
Wanting to know more about the mechanics of this phenomenon, I found the following clip, which describes the factors that scientists believe determine the behavior of the individuals in the flock. The motion of each bird is determined in response to the behavior of the nearest 7 birds, and according to three rules.
In my next post, I want to examine how this might be relevant to human behavior in relation to human culture. How much of our behavior is genuinely autonomously motivated and how much is an expression of our ambient culture?
All of this murmurating seems to call for a collective noun that refers to a group of humans.
a Flock of Sheep,
a Murmuration of Starlings,
a Pod of Whales,
a Murder of Crows
… how ’bout:
a Masquerading of Humans.