Review of Industrial Organization 19: 19–25, 2001.
© 2001 Kluwer Academic Publishers. Printed in the Netherlands.
Economists as a Human Herd
DONALD C. WELLINGTON
University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, OH 45221-0371, U.S.A.
Abstract. Economic theory does not have many tools, but that does not prevent It from being a tool.
Key words: Economic theory, herd, human.
JEL Classiﬁcation: PO.
Every human herd seeks to impose a thought control on its people. Although the
control can fulﬁll vital functions like helping to discipline and socialize the human
being, it can also impose inanities on us.
Different herds may reside in the same geographic area or the same nation or
the same society, and may intermingle with other herds in a great variety of ways.
Sometimes the interaction is symbiotic, sometimes it is hostile, sometimes it is
neither even though the herd thoughts are fundamentally inconsistent.
Herd think need not be valid nor useful nor believable. The relevant elements
are the mechanism of imposition which comprise the means of communication,
and the mode of imposition which is continual assertion. Sometimes evidence and
argumentation are also provided, but each is largely an irrelevant sideline. Some-
times contrary arguments or evidence must be suppressed, but typically they can be
ignored as a minor think. Without access to the main avenues of communication,
there is no viable mechanism for individuals or little herds sharing and proselytiz-
ing their opinions. At the most, they might inﬂuence the thinking of a handful of
There may not be much consistency in a herd think. Its sources may partly date
back to a distant past that is no longer a part of current reality, and the human
mind can be viewed as closely corresponding to an abandoned attic ﬁlled with
a variegated collection of thinkings. Some of the thinkings may have come from
God, in which case they presumably connect with reality. Not all of us can, how-
ever, distinguish between the divine and worldly sources of our thinkings. Other
thinkings may have a similarly ancient origin, and come from witch doctors of
hundreds of thousands of years ago. Antique thinkings that appear particularly
useful over the ages have, perhaps, a better chance of a divine origin although