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  12/18/18 20:39, by Rowan

For one of my projects I read the first few chapters of Wisdom of the Crowds. From this I wrote a 1061 word summery. From one of the chapters I got an idea for a second part to this project that would count as a second project credit. I will have two glass jars, both full of beans. I will have the class guess how much is in one of them independently without consulting each other and then I will find the average answer and see how close it comes. I will then do the same with the second jar thought the second jar will have a totally different number of beans in it. The class will guess how many beans are in that but this time you can talk to each other, I will also find the average. This whole thing will test independent vs biased answers and I will see which one is more accurate.

I spent around two hours on the summery and reading and will count it as one credit and then the other experiment will count as one credit as well.

I could not link my summery so I will post it as a comment as well as print it for anyone interested just talk to me.


Comment from: [Member]

Summary: Wisdom of the Crowds
From what I have read of this book so far, it is incredibly fascinating. It shows that when a group of people need to solve a problem, they do not need to seek out one smart person to help them. Or a couple of intellectually gifted people. It shows that a collective effort and the intellect of a crowd, is more valuable than one smart person.
The book starts off with an example of an experiment done by a scientist named Francis Galton. He was a man interested in statistics and the science behind heredity. Galton was obsessed with two things: the measurement of physical and mental qualities and the second was breeding. He believed that a select few, “had the characteristics to keep society healthy”. One day he went to the Plymouth Country Fair and came across a competition. The goal was to guess how much an ox would weigh after it was slaughtered and dressed. After the competition was over and the prizes awarded he took the guesses on the slips of paper from all the people who guessed, discarding a few he could not read them, and then he found the mean. He did this by putting them in numerical order and then dividing by the number of guesses. The ox was 1,198 pounds, and after finding the average answer for the entire crowd (roughly 800 people) the guess was 1,197- the collective wisdom of the crowd, was off by just one pound. This guess that the crowd averaged, would be if all the people were a single organism and it made that guess. The introduction proceeded to talk about what the book entailed.
The book is focused on three types of problems. The first is Cognition problems, which is a problem that has a definite solution. Then there is Cooperation problems, which are problems with self interested, distrustful people, working together (page XVII for more information). The final one is similar to the previous, it is Coordination problem. This is simply a group of people (mixed group) behaving with each other. Those are the problems that the wisdom of crowds can answer and it talks about in this book. This books based off of other books that contradict this one, the most famous (or most opposite) would be the “The Study of the Popular Mind” by Gustave Le Bon. “The Wisdom of the Crowds” shows that Le Bon’s book is wrong and using the wisdom of the crowd is more valuable than seeking an intelligent person, and that finding a person as opposed to the crowd is a costly mistake. My theory behind this is that because if that one person is wrong, the entire problem could be solved wrong and nobody would know it until it’s too late. The introduction ended with a very, very fascinating story of a more complex situation that the intellect of a crowd solved (because guessing how much something weighs is barely difficult). The problem was that a submarine went missing called the Scorpion, nobody knew how it disappeared. They only had rough estimates of where it could be: a 20 mile radius of water thousands of feet deep (close to impossible to find). John Craven had a plan, he got a diverse group of people including experts from different fields like submarine experts and engineers etc. They had a few options on what could have happened so they interviewed the different people and made it a contest. They got all the information from the people and Craven used Bayes theorem (which is a way of calculating how new information about an event changes the preexisting expectations of how likely the event was). From the little information to begin with the wisdom of the crowd was able to piece together where the sub was. Although it was not spot on, five months later they found the Scorpion 220 yards away from where the people had guessed. With the very big area that it could have been they were able to basically pinpoint it.
There is an experiment that stands out to me in the reading. It says that a teacher had her students guess how many beans were in a glass jar (John did this, too) and the guesses were very off except for a few, but then when she averaged the guesses they were very very close. It also talks about how the guessers did not talk to each other causing individual guesses with no bias involved.
Another major point of what I read is this: in 1986 the Challenger rocket went up into space and on live television it exploded. There were a few different contractors involved with creating the rocket and one of them Morton Thiokol. Proceeding this by twenty one minutes the stocks for those contractors to drop by 3-6 percent and with Thiokol stock dropping twelve percent for a unknown reason. It was later discovered in a case that it was Thiokol rubber O’s that got too cold and brittle and released fumes into the main fuel chamber and caused the explosion. This is a mystery and some studies believe that there was a secret exchange of information but it is still eerie how the stock market knew at least five months before it was discovered the cause of the tragedy.
To wrap up what I read, the wisdom of the crowds is very intelligent. This is a piece of text that explains how it works “If you ask a large enough group of diverse, independent people to make a prediction or estimate a probability, and then average those estimates, the errors each of them makes in coming up with an answer will cancel themselves out. Each person’s guess, you might say, has two components: information and error. Subtract the error, and you’re left with the information. Now, even with the errors canceled out, it’s possible that a group’s judgment will be bad. For the group to be smart, there has to be at least some information in the “information” part of the “information minus error” equation”.
This was a very good book (what I have read (little)) and I would highly suggest reading it. If I have time I would like to read more of this book, or read more and count as one of my project(s).

12/18/18 @ 20:42
Comment from: [Member]

Sounds dope.


12/18/18 @ 20:46
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12/19/18 @ 09:01
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12/19/18 @ 09:47
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12/19/18 @ 12:59
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12/19/18 @ 14:11
Comment from: [Member]

I gotta read this now, cool project Rowan.


12/19/18 @ 17:26
Comment from: [Member]

It looks like you spent a long time reading and writing for the project, nice work. I give it a 10/10.

12/19/18 @ 20:18
Comment from: [Member]

Great ideas!


12/21/18 @ 18:16
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12/22/18 @ 11:07
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01/11/19 @ 10:40
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01/13/19 @ 19:40
Comment from: [Member]

nice effort into this 10/10

01/17/19 @ 09:01

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