The Dangers of Herd Mentality

Aug 18, 2016 | 08:00 GMT

A natural response to danger is to cling together but that could be the most dangerous reaction

n response to reports of shots fired, police evacuated two terminals at Kennedy Airport on Aug. 14. The incident turned out to be a false alarm, but potential assailants could use such a tactic to lure people out of safety and into an attack site.


After the attacks over the past six months on airports in Brussels and Istanbul and on a beachfront in Nice, people are understandably on edge. Some 40 people were hurt on the evening of Aug. 14 in the French resort town of Juan-les-Pins when vacationers, mistaking firecrackers for gunshots, caused a stampede in their effort to flee what they thought was a terrorist attack. An ocean away on the same night, police evacuated two terminals at John F. Kennedy International Airport in response to reports of shots fired. The Federal Aviation Administration implemented a ground stop at the airport, diverting flights and causing significant travel delays. Within a few hours, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey announced that it had found no evidence of gunfire in the terminal, and the airport returned to normal operations. But in the interim, thousands of passengers had been forced out of...

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