The Wisdom of Crowds – a 1-week long experiment done by me

“By three methods we may learn wisdom: First, by reflection, which is noblest; Second, by imitation, which is easiest; and third by experience, which is the bitterest.” -Confucius

Ah, people. Billions of us have existed and communicated with each other for thousands and thousands of years. And arguably the most important parts of our survival as a species: knowledge, wisdom, and communication. Without those, we would be nowhere.

These ideas are the basis of the famous social concept, The Wisdom of Crowds. Developed by James Surowiecki, it states that if given a large quantity for people to guess the exact amount of, the average of all their guesses will be more accurate than any one individual guess.

It sounds crazy, but it actually works. A BBC documentary as well as a few TEDx videos have been done about this theory. The documentary even demonstrates the theory, when a professor tells students to guess the number of jellybeans in a jar. The average of all their guesses was less than 1% off from the actual number of jellybeans. Additionally, this was done in the early 20th century, where Sir Francis Galton was able to accurately guess the weight of a bull by averaging the guesses from 800 villagers.

Seeing this concept for the first time, it really intrigued me, and naturally, it made me want to try it myself. So that’s exactly what I did. Here is the whole entire process of me replicating this experiment, and analyzing the results!

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