Forget The Wisdom of Crowds; Neurobiologists Reveal The Wisdom Of The Confident
Way back in 1906, the English polymath Francis Galton visited a country fair in which 800 people took part in a contest to guess the weight of a slaughtered ox. After the fair, he collected the guesses and calculated their average which turned out to be 1208 pounds. To Galton’s surprise, this was within 1 per cent of the true weight of 1198 pounds. This is one of the earliest examples of a phenomenon that has come to be known as the wisdom of the crowd. The idea is that the collective opinion of a group of individuals can be better than a single expert opinion. This phenomenon is commonplace today on websites such as Reddit in which users vote on the importance of particular stories and the most popular are given greater prominence. However, anyone familiar with Reddit will know that the collective opinion isn’t always wise. It turns out that if a crowd offers a wide range of independent estimates, then it is more likely to be wise. The theory behind their work is straightforward.
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