The mob mentality revisited

You Are Not So Smart is a fascinating blog “devoted to self-delusion and irrational thinking”. Launched by its resident brainiac David McRaney (who is also the author of a book by the same name), YANSS reminds us that, no matter how smart we may like to believe we are, the intriguing reality is likely that “we have no idea why we act or think the way we do.”

And what McRaney wrote recently about mob behaviour helped to make some  sense out of something that until now has made absolutely none to me: the moronic behaviour of the thugs who burned, looted and trashed the beautiful streets of downtown Montreal in 2012, and Vancouver in 2011. Continue reading

The Vancouver riots: a backlash against the backlash

True confession time: I still have not told my mother that I was sent to the principal’s office back in Grade Six. The only reason for this is that our principal, Mr. Devine, let me and my friend Sheila off with a stern lecture about whatever minor school rule we had just violated. But Mr. Devine wasn’t the worst threat to our mental and physical health on that day as the two of us stood weeping hysterically outside his office. The real threat would have been facing our parents back home, along with the terrifyingly certain consequences that “causing trouble at school” would bring.

Back then, the concept of logical consequences was perfectly understood by all of us. Everybody – our parents, teachers, friends, neighbours – knew and accepted (along with all physicists since Newton) that for every action, there would inevitably be an equal and opposite reaction. And that parental reaction would be far more painful than anything Mr. Devine could dish out. No exceptions, no excuses, no getting off easy.

That was all part of making sure that we would not grow up and one day decide to set fire to police cars in downtown Vancouver.

So when watching hours of live news footage of thugs terrorizing the streets of Vancouver during last week’s Stanley Cup riots, I couldn’t help but sadly ask myself if we have somehow raised an entire generation of spoiled brats who have never had to grasp the foreign concept of facing logical consequences of their actions?  Continue reading