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That’s the premise this Scientific American article concludes based on a study of ant colonies.

To see if collectives behave rationally, Pratt and his student Susan Edwards investigated a common acorn ant of eastern North America, Temnothorax curvispinosus, which is tiny—a colony of 50 to 200 such ants can make its home inside a single nutshell. When their nest is damaged beyond repair, the ants choose their new home en masse. Scouts look for potential nests, and if enough of them close in on the same area, they then carry nest mates over.

The researchers made two artificial nests as potential homes. Nest A had a larger, less defensible entrance but a dark interior that suggested strong, thick walls, whereas nest B had a smaller entrance (more defensible) but a bright interior (weaker walls). As expected, when the researchers ran 26 ant colonies past these nests, the insects split roughly equally on the nests. Then they provided inferior “decoy” nests to spur irrational choices. For instance, if they presented a decoy that was similar to nest B yet had an even brighter interior, the ants might irrationally prefer nest B over nest A, if past results with humans and animals are any guide.

I don’t like this scientific analogy though because it makes fascism look smart.

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