Those who’ve read a few posts here will perhaps know that I have a dislike of Bruce Schneier’s style. There’s a whole lot of whining, complaining and general negativity there, and I think that from time to time, at least, one should try and either shut up or find something nice to say. If you can’t say something nice, then at least say something constructive.

This time, however, he actually stumbled onto something interesting. A little taste;

Security, Group Size, and the Human Brain

If the size of your company grows past 150 people, it’s time to get name badges. It’s not that larger groups are somehow less secure, it’s just that 150 is the cognitive limit to the number of people a human brain can maintain a coherent social relationship with.

Primatologist Robin Dunbar derived this number by comparing neocortex — the “thinking” part of the mammalian brain — volume with the size of primate social groups. By analyzing data from 38 primate genera and extrapolating to the human neocortex size, he predicted a human “mean group size” of roughly 150.

This number appears regularly in human society; it’s the estimated size of a Neolithic farming village, the size at which Hittite settlements split, and the basic unit in professional armies from Roman times to the present day. Larger group sizes aren’t …

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