Only herd sanity can inoculate us against this madness

If enough people remain calm and rational, we can limit the spread of stupid ideas.

Nick Dixon


In light of the chaos happening in so many areas of our culture, I am proposing a new strategy: herd sanity.

Herd sanity is an idea, invented by me, whereby enough people remain calm and rational that stupid, insane ideas can no longer spread too far.

Once this level of mass common sense is achieved in a population, any stupid idea like ‘Speech is violence’, or ‘Defund the police’, or ‘Listen to Sadiq Khan’ will only be able to get so far without running into a sane, normal person and immediately dying out.

I have had to invent this idea, of course, because of the recent pandemic. Not that nasty Covid-19 thing. I’m talking about the pandemic of Stupid Ideas Rapidly Spreading – or SIRS, if you prefer.

This is a new phenomenon largely due to the advent of Twitter, and the surprising number of people who possess the very latest technology yet have not even bothered to switch their stupid brains on.

Stupidity has always been with us, of course. History records that even the invention of the wheel was met with comments like ‘lol at this new wheel’ and ‘wheels r so gay smh’.

However, these stupid opinions were not able to spread very far, due to the fact that humans mainly lived in small villages where we married our cousins and then died of gout aged 26 (that was mainly the men; women died predominantly of ‘nervousness’ or ‘excessive agitation’).

But in 2020, you can get on the internet and say something like ‘Luxury communism now!’ or ‘White lives don’t matter. As white lives’ and thousands of people will mistakenly think you have said something of value.

These people, in turn, transmit the Stupid Idea in a rapid and difficult to contain fashion, causing, in some cases, a full-on pandemic of Stupidity.

We are able to track this to a degree using something I have dubbed the ‘S-rate’ – or Stupid Rate – which can be thought of as ‘The expected number of cases [of Stupidity] directly generated by one case in a population where all individuals are susceptible [to Stupidity]’.

This figure is somewhat flawed, though, as it does not take into account things like how long one has been Stupid. So, for example, if the S-rate is halved but the time one has been Stupid is doubled, then the Total Stupidity (TS) will be the same. Thus it becomes incredibly difficult to successfully contain an outbreak of Stupid.

The problem is further complicated by all the people who are not technically Stupid, but are merely acting in a Stupid fashion in order to gain certain perceived benefits, such as more followers or appearances on television. This is sometimes known as the ‘Jones-Morgan effect’, named after two of its main exponents.

There are also those who retain a degree of scepticism regarding the seriousness of the Stupidity virus. Yes, Stupidity is unpleasant, they say, but it is still pretty minor in the scheme of things. These doubters have recently been forced to reconsider their views after a series of incredibly Stupid incidents.

These incidents include, but are by no means limited to: the biggest football league in the world choosing to give massive free advertising to a radical political group; hundreds of activists sending abusive messages to an acclaimed female author in order to prove they are good people; and some protesters setting fire to a statue of an elk.

Some might argue that as it is viral Stupidity we are fighting, the only logical strategy is herd intelligence. However, as we have seen recently, one can be a Cambridge professor, for example, and still be absolutely riddled with Stupidity. This is because intelligence without sanity actually results in more Stupidity (i – sy = s²).

Therefore I propose we stick with the ‘herd sanity’ approach.

I know that in the short term we risk many more people becoming infected with potentially severe Stupidity. I do not take this lightly. But if we hold our nerve the virus will eventually die out, as even the most aggressive strains of Stupidity cannot live in a sane population for very long.

I say this with the caveat that – depending on what the science tells us – we may need to bury Twitter in a big hole in the desert.

Nick Dixon is a stand-up comedian and writer. Follow him on Twitter / Instagram / TikTok: @nickdixoncomic

Picture by: Getty.

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Lyn Keay

8th July 2020 at 7:57 pm

Sanity is rare on twitter. Better to do your first trials on facebook.

Mark Lambert

8th July 2020 at 5:34 pm

I don’t know what an Elk is, so I’m not sure where I fit in with this.

In Negative

8th July 2020 at 5:15 pm

I enjoyed this.

James Knight

8th July 2020 at 4:54 pm

The paradox is we may need stupid ideas. It is like a tapeworm. Tapeworms may seem vile and disgusting. But without tapeworms humans would likely not have developed an immune system. In the same way fake news and stupid ideas are healthy and we need them to inoculate ourselves. Also very rarely a completely bonkers idea turns out to be paradigm shifting. The individual we all dismissed as a swivel eyed loon turns out to have been right all along.

John McDougall

11th July 2020 at 8:44 am

He was just a swivel-eyed loon after all.

Michel Houllebeq

8th July 2020 at 2:31 pm

As I exited the station at Whitechapel not hearing English spoken once – I had to remind myself of my Ancestors and remember – At least I’m not speaking German.

James Conner

8th July 2020 at 1:08 pm

Sadly, there is no cure for stupid, as is proven admirably by the millions of voters who persistently feel compelled to vote our MPs into positions of power.

nick hunt

8th July 2020 at 4:04 pm

Sorry, no. Most of us realise our voting options are very limited and/or a stitch-up, but we also know that a system giving people some control over who rules is vastly superior to all those horror states that don’t. That’s smart in my book, but not for today’s leftists, which is why I call them red fascists.

James Conner

8th July 2020 at 4:45 pm

Sadly Nick, I don’t believe that ‘Most of us realise our voting options are very limited and/or a stitch-up’. I truly think that the majority of voters actually believe what the politicians say when it’s time for them to come around knocking doors and kissing babies again,. When it’s a choice between Tory liars and cheats, Labour liars and cheats or Lib Dem liars and cheats, I don’t call that a choice at all.

Warren Alexander

8th July 2020 at 12:23 pm

That gave me a good laugh. I blame education. Close down all the schools and universities.

Barbara Baker

8th July 2020 at 8:51 pm

Yup done that #covid is brill

George Whale

8th July 2020 at 8:25 am

Haha, hilarious, thanks!

Gareth Edward KING

8th July 2020 at 7:37 am

Very funny, if it all wasn’t so true. I blame the parents and that includes those parents of people (generally wokey and ‘well-educated’) who are still with their parents, and have been in the parental nest throughout their time as undergraduates, poor things. There used to be a time when not being able to afford an ‘education’ meant that you had to get a part-time job AND study at the SAME time! Heaven forbid! There also used to be something called ‘thinking for oneself’ which also included switching OFF either the telly, or more likely contemporarily, one’s SmartPhone (=DullardPhone). I have zero sympathy for the herd and echo the comments made by David Starkey, Michael Schellenberger and Ian Plimer et al. that the opposition rarely read. And I don’t mean those ‘books’ suggested by the anti-Karen brigade.

Gareth Roberts

8th July 2020 at 6:50 am

Ideology rules. Ideology says a man can become a woman by signing a piece of paper, and people with beards can be women. The Woke believe they are fighting an ideological struggle when they are fighting reality.

nick hunt

8th July 2020 at 4:12 pm

Ideology works only when people mistake it for reality. This affliction or delusion is why naive leftists or other religious fanatics make such good but unwitting liars: they believe their own lies.

Tom Joad

8th July 2020 at 5:53 am

It’s greed, basically. At least partly. There’s no need for all kinds of offices anymore and their workers. This talking thing is just a candy to sell us that. They don’t really care about the freedom here. Tearing down the internet would mean they would have to hire hundreds of thousands office workers and service staff again to handle the meeting with unemployed people, medical services, taxation, etc, etc. In Finland it’s arriving to a point where you can not meet anybody anymore anywhere. There’s no face-to-face state or services anymore. It would be very difficult to reverse this. If they finally ban all freedom of speech here, then it finally shows in bright light what this thing really is, has become at least. Just a machine for different parties to provide all services more cheaply and with fraction of labor, and now we all pay to be able to communicate with the state and services. Internet turned communication with the state and services to business. It used to be free to take care of your affairs.

Ellen Whitaker

8th July 2020 at 1:25 am

Kurt Vonnegut once alluded to the idea that if you sat (say) a million monkeys in front of a million computers, and had them start pressing keys, that they would eventually type out the works of Shakespeare. He then joked that the internet proved that that wasn’t true. When (if) future historians debate the causes of the fall of Western Civilization, the internet will be one candidate.

silly billy

8th July 2020 at 1:29 pm

In a related monkey/typewriter experiment, the only recognisable word obtained was chumbawumba. Countless millions of Twatterati hammering keyboards for a decade and a half are yet to produce anything so coherent, yet still aspire to outraged censoriousness.

nick hunt

8th July 2020 at 4:16 pm

I’m sure the net won’t come near another candidate for that fall: the self-hate and white guilt inflicted by leftists haters

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