Wisdom of crowds

What is the wisdom of crowd?

Its about the aggregation of information in groups, resulting in decisions that, one argues, are often better than could have been made by any single member of the group.

The basic idea is obvious. That two heads work better than one.  However, it is interesting to note that this is nothing like team work.

One criteria for the wisdom of crowd is with independence.

People’s opinions aren’t determined by the opinions of those around them.

And obviously in usual teams, we discuss, we criticize and eventually come up with a plan.

It is difficult to compare the two. The conclusion I came up with is that each concept is more effective than another during different situations.

Here’s an example:

10 students were asked to predict the number of jelly beans in a jar. Each was to give a number independently and the mean average was revealed.

Compare this to

A team of 10 students who were asked to predict the number of jelly beans in a jar as a group.  The collective opinions would eventually come up to one number.

Which do you think would be more accurate? My fair guess would be that the team of 10 who worked in a group.

The wisdom of crowd works particularly well when the numbers are large. The more opinions you collect, the more accurate the mean would be. That’s also one reason why this theory is often used online for ratings and ranking systems. However, in most situations that do not allow for an easy method to calculate mean, team work would prove to be more appropriate.


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