Sometimes collective knowledge is 100% wrong.
I mean, at points in history, few thought the earth was round. Few thought that slavery was wrong. And few though Donald Trump would be President of the United States.
This analogy to the way that social proof works on buffalo, seems fitting.
If I am being honest, it feels like an allegory to how most politicians sell us down the river.
This aspect of the social proof phenomenon always reminds me of the way certain Indian tribes—the Blackfeet, Cree, Snake, and Crow—used to hunt the North American buffalo. There are two features of buffalo that make them especially susceptible to erroneous social evidence. First, their eyes are set in their heads so that it is easier for them to see to the side than to the front. Second, when they run, as in a stampede, it is with their heads down low so they cannot see above the herd. As a result, the Indians realized, it was possible to kill tremendous numbers of buffalo by starting a herd running toward a cliff. The animals, responding to the thundering social proof around them—and never looking up to see what lay ahead—did the rest. One astonished observer to such a hunt described the deadly outcome of the buffalo’s obsessive trust in collective knowledge.
-Robert Cialdini, Influence