Jeremy Clarkson on the HERD

Posted by on Jul 19, 2010 in Copying, Social Influence | 5 Comments

"Have you ever watched a vast swarm of starlings rell around the sky in Africa? Or a million-strong herd of wildebeest? If so, I'm sure you've marvelled at their ability to communicate withut actually appearing to do so. But you know what? I think human beings can do exactly the same thing"

(Sunday Times 18th July)

Really, Jeremy? And did you have that idea all by yourself? Or did it come from somebody else (like the examples you cite)? 

Nice to have you on the HERD bus, evenso. Welcome aboard.

PS Unless you have a Times online subscription (or you still have the Review section to hand), you're not going to be able to do read the full article. Blame that nice Mr Murdoch. 


  1. Peter Lime
    July 26, 2010

    I’m fairly certain the swarming of starlings and herding nature of wildebeest had been remarked upon prior to HERD 🙂

  2. Mark Earls
    July 28, 2010

    Yes but very few people have applied the metaphor to human behaviour in a positive sense. Lots of “herd-mentality” etc etc.
    Given that Clarkson is a noted champion of the individualist view of humans, it struck me as important to point this out…

  3. Ian Leslie
    July 28, 2010

    I don’t *think* Mark was suggesting that Clarkson was borrowing from him particularly.
    What I don’t understand, Mark, is what it means to have an idea “all by yourself”, or indeed for an idea to come “from somebody”…? Surely, such talk is inimical to your model of human behaviour and thought?

  4. Mark Earls
    August 16, 2010

    Good point, Ian. What I’m trying to do is challenge the assumption of individual, self-determining agents who somehow manage to exist outside of the social context in which human life is lived and whose ideas and opinions come forth, fresh and new and unlike anything known on God’s earth. Almost everything is “from somebody else”; it’d be good if we accepted it and stopped lionising the “crazy ones” so and pretending that our lives are really like that, don’t you think?
    For Clarkson and for me, the “herd” metaphor is deliberately provocative but nonetheless true.

  5. Document Scanning Services
    September 29, 2010

    Good post Mark,
    I have always wondered were Clarkson has got his mindless, overdramatic drivel from.