This week’s curiosity box explores the following topics

  1. What is mob mentality?
  2. Why do we end up being groggy when we sleep for an extra 15 min?
  3. Why do snooker players wear suits?

1 – What is the logic behind mob mentality?

If everyone is thinking alike, then somebody isn’t thinking.

General George S Patton

The capitol hill riots depicted a different America. The images and videos of the event made it evident that irrational emotion triggered the episode – mob mentality kept everyone charged.

Mob or herd mentality has occurred time and again on various levels across the world. To name a few: the protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act in India, Black Lives Matter outcry after the death of George Floyd, the yellow vests protects, and the Anti-Extradition Law protests in Hong Kong. At its core, every protest cries to address an important issue in society. But unnecessary violence acts as a detractor from the necessary.

Humans have a higher propensity to do good or bad when we are in a group. Our nature is to be social beings, and we have an innate need to feel accepted. The first event in history that made social scientists notice that humans shed their individuality and adopt a group’s nature was after the riots in Paris on Feb 23 1848. In a group, we become de-individualised. We lose a sense of our individuality and adopt the group’s goal and values. Our prefrontal cortex does not work a lot, and as a result, we lose inhibitions – we lose our natural ability to make a rational decision.

The latest study shows that generalising a rioting crowd as one mob is wrong. There are different crowd types – the violent, the benign, and the non-crowd. And crowds can protest for other purposes using various means. Certain events, like when the police using the wrong tactic to subdue the protest, could escalate the group’s tensions. And that is when things get bitter.

A book I would recommend reading to know more about this topic is The Logic of Collective Action by Mancur Olsen


2 – Why do we feel extra tired when we sleep more?

Have you experienced this? After waking up, you realise that you have some more time. So you decide to sleep for half an hour. When you wake up after 30 minutes, you ended up finding yourself groggy and more tired. 

To feel rested, it does not matter how long you sleep, but at what sleep stage you wake up. Our sleep can be broken down into cycles and stages. Each sleep cycle consists of four stages: Stage 1, Stage 2, Stage 3, and REM. It is advised that adults need 5 cycles of sleep, i.e. 7.5 hours of sleep. On average, we take 90 minutes to go through each cycle.

When we are in a sleep cycle, the time it takes for each stage could vary. Stages 1 and 2 are the easiest to get up from. Stage 3 is deep sleep when it is hardest to wake up from, and REM is a stage when our brain is most active. And to feel truly rested, we need to wake up at the end of a sleep cycle. 

So that is why the decision to sleep for extra 30 minutes could be a wrong one to make. We might wake up leaving the sleep cycle incomplete. 


3 – Why do snooker players wear suits?

When I think of sporting apparel, a suit is the last that would come to my mind. A snooker player needs to pack a few classy 3-piece suits in addition to his gear for every tournament. A short history lesson is required to know why they wear suits.

Today’s snooker can be traced back to an outdoor sport called croquet. The game moved indoors, and a version of it was played on a wooden table during the 13th century. With billiards, a few found pass time for the nobility and gentry.

In 1875, lieutenant Neville Francis Fitzgerald Chamberlain of the 11 Devonshire Regiment stationed in Jabalpur invented a new derivative of snooker the officer’s mess. He added a few extra red balls to billiards and made up the rules for his new game. 

The higher end of the social strata or the military regiment gave a great deal of importance to the attire one ought to wear at different social settings. Social norms and attires included playing billiards or snooker. People wore suits during the game, and the tradition continues till date.


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