May 8, 2016, by Graham Kendall

How to unleash the wisdom of crowds

Wisdom of the Crowds“The great Victorian polymath, Sir Francis Galton was at a country fair in 1906, so the story goes, and came across a competition where you had to guess the weight of an ox. Once the competition was over Galton, an explorer, meteorologist, scientist and statistician, took the 787 guesses and calculated the average, which came to 1,197 pounds. The actual weight of the ox was 1,198 pounds. In effect, the crowd had provided a near perfect answer. Galton would later publish this insight in Nature.

This phenomenon, where collective wisdom is better than most, if not all of the individuals in the crowd has become known as the Wisdom of Crowds. The authoritative take on it came from James Surowiecki. A more up-to-date example is the “Ask the Audience” part of Who Wants to be a Millionaire, where the studio audience are polled and the most popular answer is the correct answer 91% of the time.”

… so starts a recently published article in TheConversation that discusses the Wisdom of Crowds and how it can be used for collective decision making.

Other Conversation articles that we have featured on this blog can be seen here.

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