The behaviour of flocks of birds or schools of fish is something I find fascinating.
Sudden wheelings, changes of direction, can seem to happen simultaneously: plus the individuals of a flock or shoal never seem to collide.
Personally, I think it has to do with a property of consciousness which manifests in groups of individuals all of which are doing the same thing.
There's a book called The Field
- I forget the author's name - which details some of the more interesting cutting-edge hypotheses and
research into the nature of consciousness. One of the areas of research is the disruption of electronic random number generation by groups of people.
There is a project - noosphere.princeton.edu...
- that monitors the output of RNGs to detect moments of coherence.
It is of interest that the events of 9/11 - which were watched live by many people around the world - caused unprecedented spikes of coherence in the
purportedly random data.
In The Field
, the author relates other RNG experiments in which portable devices were taken to various events. Apparently, the performances of
Wagner's Ring Cycle at Bayreuth provoked highly coherent output at the operas' most emotionally intense pieces - when people were listening the
I am a musician, and one of my bands is an improvising ensemble, and occasionally, the band will suddenly change direction all at once just like a
flock of birds or a school of fish. It's a very odd feeling but they are moments to be treasured, and again, we find that the coherence we achieve
comes through intense listening. Listening, in fact, is the most important thing we can do in improvising - far more important than playing, or
having one's individual voice heard.
As for the starlings... I think they were doing what they were doing because it was fun
- but that's possibly more revelatory of my attitude
to life than anything else.
Or maybe not. "Scientists" or "skeptics" (people like B F Skinner, who thought it was more scientific to treat living organisms like machines)
tend to deny the validity of consciousness in other life forms - and even, in extreme circumstances, in other human beings. I find this kind of