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  01/12/19 13:19, by Ansel

For this project I read some of and wrote an essay on The wisdom of Crowds by James Surowiecki. I enjoyed reading this book and thought that it had a lot of ideas that could be very thoroughly written or talked about. I also thought that some of the examples of "crowds" of people solving problems or answering questions very accurately extremely mind boggling and fascination.

I spent well over 4 hours on this project and intend for in to count for 1 project. I will include my essay below because I am not sure how to attach it in a link that will let people view it.

The Wisdom of Crowds written by James Surowiecki in 2004 deals with the idea that a group of people can find the solution to a problem better on average than an individual. There are many examples used throughout the book as well as the introduction. An easy to understand visualization included in the book of this idea is if you think about a number of athletes in a race, and you average all of their times. The average time of all the athletes will be less than the fastest athlete with the best time, but the average will also be better than the slowest runner with the worst time.

The introduction starts out talking about a elderly British scientist Francis Galton at a country fair. At this fair there is a contest where people pay to make a guess on how much a butchered ox would weigh and win prizes. Galton is said to be “obsessed” with the measurement of physical and mental qualities, and breeding. And has interest in the livestock show to see the outcomes of good breeding. Galton is also said to think that only a certain few had good enough physical and mental qualities to keep society going in an ideal manner. A view that would undoubtedly be very frowned upon today. Regardless of it truthfulness or lack thereof.

After the contest, Galton makes an average of all of the guesses on the weight of the livestock. He had to discard 13 of the guesses due to them being illegible. Possibly solidifying Galtons feeling about some people not having good qualities, like good enough handwriting. Galton finds that the average of all the guesses was within 1 pound of the ox’s correct weight. Incredible. This must be true evidence that a group of people have unmatched problem solving ability when compared to individuals.

The book goes on to talk about how this is useful due to the fact that an individual human beings problem solving ability is less than ideal, to say the least. And that humans do not necessarily have the want or ability to make very complicated calculations without substantial help or assistance. For example, having the help of knowledge of a larger number of individuals, like the wisdom of the crowd, the very title of the book.

The book goes directly into a kind of contradiction of what was just said from the point of view of a scottish journalist from the late 1800’s, Charles Mackay. Who did not think that a crown of people would have much ability to know much of anything. He went on to write “Extraordinary Popular Delusions and The Madness of Crowds.” One of his quotes that strengthen this view of his very well is “Men, it has been well said, think in herds. It will be seen that they go mad in herds.” This description draws comparison to livestock, and the idea that there are some people that possess less than ideal physical and mental qualities that would be required to run society in a efficient and desirable way. Which was one of Galton's beliefs.

16 comments

Comment from: [Member]

10/10

01/12/19 @ 13:28
Comment from: [Member]

Nice detail.
10/10

01/12/19 @ 14:54
Comment from: [Member]

Any other insights or conclusions from this book – your essay only canvasses the first pages….

01/13/19 @ 08:52
Comment from: [Member]

10/10

01/13/19 @ 11:22
Comment from: [Member]

9/10

01/13/19 @ 13:21
Comment from: [Member]

Decent

8/10

01/13/19 @ 14:09
Comment from: [Member]

Well done.

9/10

01/13/19 @ 15:21
Comment from: [Member]

10/10

01/13/19 @ 20:07
Comment from: [Member]

The packet I had only included the introduction and first few pages. I could elaborate with more pages.

01/13/19 @ 20:09
Comment from: [Member]

I give it a 9/10!

01/13/19 @ 22:01
Comment from: [Member]

9/10

01/14/19 @ 10:22
Comment from: [Member]

10/10: I read some of this book too,for my project, and I thought it was also very interesting.

01/14/19 @ 14:11
Comment from: [Member]

Good observations Ansel.

9/10

01/14/19 @ 14:28
Comment from: [Member]
Cayleigh

9/10

01/16/19 @ 11:39
Comment from: [Member]

10/10

01/17/19 @ 20:30
Comment from: [Member]

10/10!

Nice summary!

01/17/19 @ 23:03


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