You shall not follow a crowd to do evil; nor shall you testify in a dispute so as to turn aside after many to pervert justice. (Exodus 23:2)
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Becoming part of a crowd can be exhilarating or terrifying: The same mechanisms that make people fans can just as easily make them fanatics. And throughout human history we have constructed institutions that provide that dangerous, enthralling thrill. The Coliseum that hosts my local Oakland Raiders is, after all, just a modern knockoff of the massive theater that housed Roman crowds cheering their favorite gladiators 2,000 years ago.
(For Oakland fans, like my family, it’s particularly clear that participating in the Raider Nation is responsible for much of the games’ appeal—it certainly isn’t the generally pathetic football.)