Human group behavior and atomic physics

Do we really make decisions based on reason and analysis, or do we act more like errant atoms, which even without a force acting on them (like a magnet) tend to line up in the same direction as the majority? That's the question posed in this Boston Globe article (free registration req'd). Could this be the force behind things like all our industry associations jumping on the career-pathing/core competencies bandwagon at the same time? Or the mad rush to put everything from mashed potatoes to fruit in martini glass (not to mention all kinds of flavored martini concoctions that would make our grandparents weep)?

Do we see a cool trend and jump on it because it's cool and would work for our group, or are we guided by some basic principle of atomic physics to go with the trend-flow? I like to think we use reason and intellect, but maybe there's something else at play as well. It also could explain some of the reason why change is so difficult, why even now, four years and several terrorism and natural disaster incidents after 9/11, so many planners still haven't developed risk management/contingency plans for their events.

Thanks to a MIMlister for the pointer!

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