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Social Influence and the Wisdom of Crowd Effect 143

Posted by Soulskill
from the none-of-us-are-as-dumb-as-all-of-us dept.
formfeed writes "A lot has been written lately on the crowd effect and the wisdom of crowds. But for those of us who are doubtful, the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science has published a study showing how masses can become dumber: social influence. While previous studies show how groups of people can come up with remarkably accurate results, it seems 'even mild social influence can undermine the wisdom of crowd effect in simple estimation tasks.' Social influence 'diminishes the diversity of the crowd without improvements of its collective error.' In short, crowd intelligence only works in cases where the opinion of others is hidden."
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Social Influence and the Wisdom of Crowd Effect

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  • Well (Score:4, Insightful)

    by GeorgeMonroy (784609) on Wednesday May 18, 2011 @03:31PM (#36169818) Homepage

    duh?

    Just look at Facebook.

    • I'd like you all to join me in modding this comment "insightful."

      cheers,

      • by Toe, The (545098) on Wednesday May 18, 2011 @05:06PM (#36171014)

        Facebook is just plain crowd: like a mob with everyone shouting.

        Slashdot is a crowd moderated by randomly selected crowd-members, with multiple-moderation, meta-moderation, and karma-influence.

        That's a huge difference. And you can see it. On Facebook, there's an endless stream of garbage. On slashdot, you can go back to an article that has matured and just read the 4s and 5s and get a pretty good sense of the best content.

        No slashdot ain't close to perfect. What this shows however is that "wisdom of the crowds" is variable based on the system used. The more complex and well thought-out the system, the more wise the crowd gets.

    • by blair1q (305137)

      Why do I need to click anything?

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by cpu6502 (1960974)

      Let me fix that for you:

      "duh?
      "Just look at [Slashdot]."

      Especially pay attention to the mod points of persons who post things contrary to the socialthink of this group. Like saying, for example, "I tried Ubuntu linux but didn't really like it. So I went back to WinXP (or Mac)." Or "Sony is a great company." ;-)

      j/k

      • by Alex Belits (437) *

        Some people are stupid enough without any help from their peers.

        You are a great example of this.

  • by conner_bw (120497) * on Wednesday May 18, 2011 @03:32PM (#36169828) Homepage Journal

    First post! Goatse.cx! GNAA!

    Anyone who browsed the site at -1 in it's heyday cannot dispute the claim "crowd intelligence only works in cases where the opinion of others is hidden."

    Take a bow, boys.

    And no, the irony of this post is not lost on me.

    • that would be an interesting comparison.

      there was a lot less anonymity about 'voting' on kuro5hin, you could tell who voted your articles up and so forth and so on.

  • Does not!

    We'll see if this works...

  • by jellomizer (103300) on Wednesday May 18, 2011 @03:37PM (#36169894)

    While most problems today are complex. We still try to cling to the groups ideology to try to solve the problem vs. realizing the ideology isn't the solution just a start of an approach which needs modifications. However political parties leader will not waver too far off their ideology core as the group in the hole still follows that ideology.

    • Could this help explain some of the wildly wrong beliefs some folks have today? So so blinded by Limbaugh or their Reverend or whoever and their opinion carries SO much weight that you can't get them to accept proof?

      • by Anonymous Coward
        Swings both ways, Micky.

        I have just as much trouble trying to convince Obama supporters that Obama isn't a very good liberal as I did convincing Bush supporters that he wasn't a very good fiscal conservative.
        • I wasn't very clear in the post... I am more interested in why people believe in things that are *factually* wrong where there is plenty of evidence that it is factually wrong. Such as the "Obama is a Muslim" thing. I am not talking about conspiracy theory of people believing he is a "secret Muslim," more like people taking it as a fact. I have a tad little more sympathy for those that believed there was evidence that he wasn't born a U.S. citizen. There's other examples and, sorry conservatives, they t

          • A+ then for the article then. "Although groups are initially “wise,” knowledge about estimates of others narrows the diversity of opinions to such an extent that it undermines the wisdom of crowd effect..."

            Liberals are smart, conservatives are stupid... that's what everyone I know says.

          • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

            by HornWumpus (783565)

            By the Muslim definition of 'Muslim' Obama is an Apostate Muslim.

            According to Muslim tradition a person is a Muslim if their father is a Muslim or if they ever repeat the 'call to prayer' (which is apparently a 'profession of faith'.)

            Obama meets both these criteria.

            Of course in the rest of the world, where we get to pick our own religion, he is non practicing Christian.

            Some examples of things liberals continue to believe that are factually incorrect: Nazi's where capitalists, blankets can be 'infec

            • by Alex Belits (437) *

              According to Muslim tradition a person is a Muslim if their father is a Muslim or if they ever repeat the 'call to prayer' (which is apparently a 'profession of faith'.)

              A person is a dipshit if he acts within a human society in a confrontational or counterproductive manner, or if his Slashdot user name is HornWumpus.

              I would know because by that definition I am a dipshit.

            • by makomk (752139)

              Which of course is different to respectable religions like Catholicism (where once you're baptized as a baby you're Catholic for life, and all Catholic parents are obliged to baptize their kids and bring them up as Catholic) or indeed Judaism (in which you're Jewish for life if your mother was Jewish).

      • Don't forget to include politically correct fucktards in your list. These assholes are as big a threat to free speech as anything out there.
        • by tehcyder (746570)

          Don't forget to include politically correct fucktards in your list. These assholes are as big a threat to free speech as anything out there.

          Is diddums upset by those nasty women not laughing at your titty jokes? Awww.

          • Ummmm, no. I don't make juvenile jokes like you do. Other than that I have nothing to say to you; you make yourself look ridiculous.
    • by vlm (69642)

      However political parties leader will not waver too far off their ideology core as the group in the hole still follows that ideology.

      Occams razor says "divide and conqueror" makes more sense to explain why we have two political parties.

      • by marnues (906739) on Wednesday May 18, 2011 @04:30PM (#36170510)
        I do think this is why we have the _same_ two political parties.
      • by Thoguth (203384)

        However political parties leader will not waver too far off their ideology core as the group in the hole still follows that ideology.

        Occams razor says "divide and conqueror" makes more sense to explain why we have two political parties.

        I disagree... you're assigning malicious intent to some unnamed entity and judging its motives. I think a much simpler explanation is the two-party system is simply emergent behavior from the U.S.'s winner-take-all system of electing representativess. In governments where the leaders are selected differently, you have different results.

  • by perpenso (1613749) on Wednesday May 18, 2011 @03:38PM (#36169900)

    In short, crowd intelligence only works in cases where the opinion of others is hidden.

    Nonsense. Opinions do *not* need to be hidden, opinions are one source of information. What needs to be suppressed are cliques, groupthink, etc.

    In short, crowd intelligence only works in cases where the opinion of others is considered but not blindly followed, where individuals think for themselves.

    • by jd (1658) <imipak AT yahoo DOT com> on Wednesday May 18, 2011 @03:44PM (#36169982) Homepage Journal

      The brain isn't designed to think independent of context. It's built to be part of a social system. Yes, people need to think for themselves, but to mandate that requires us to break the architecture of our minds. It can't work as the primary solution. Indeed, this current study only shows that what used to be two points ("mob thinking" and "collective intelligence") are just two points on an entire continuum. The problem is that humanity prefers to slide to the lower end of the spectrum rather than rise to its potential. THAT is what you need to solve. The details of who thinks and how then become incidental. Mere implementation details.

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by gstoddart (321705)

        The brain isn't designed to think independent of context. It's built to be part of a social system.

        Please, stop using words like "designed" and "built" in reference to the human brain.

        It evolved, it exists ... it's not something which was created by a specific actor according to a spec.

        • by jd (1658)

          It is specified in a blueprint (the nucleic DNA and the epigenome), designed by evolution and built by Von Neumann machines which constitute your actors. Von Neumann demonstrated, via cellular automata, that the actor and blueprint could be contained within a single entity. I pity those who are 60-70 years behind on mathematics, but it really isn't my problem.

      • by nbauman (624611)

        The brain isn't designed to think independent of context. It's built to be part of a social system. Yes, people need to think for themselves, but to mandate that requires us to break the architecture of our minds.

        It requires a strong cognitive effort, anyway. Going along with the crowd is the default.

        I think that most intelligent people can at least be trained to think for themselves. People who are trained as scientists or lawyers often go against the consensus -- they're trained to go against the consensus and often rewarded for doing so.

        Going against the crowd probably goes against evolutionary fitness most of the time, but once in the while it has a big payoff.

        • Going against the crowd probably goes against evolutionary fitness most of the time, but once in the while it has a big payoff.

          The buffalo that gets out of the way of the stampede is the only one that lives.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by idontgno (624372)

            The buffalo that cuts itself out of the stampede is the only one the feeds the wolves.

            If stampeding was such a bad survival tactic, why has it persisted? And by "survival tactic", I mean at the level of the individual organism, as well as the group and species level. As long as Billy Buffalo keeps his head down, his mouth shut, and his feet churning in the same direction as the entire rest of the herd, he'll be fine.

            Which is, quite possibly, why human socialization also strongly encourages conformal and con

            • Which is, quite possibly, why human socialization also strongly encourages conformal and consensus-seeking behavior.

              And, apparently, autocratic governments. Human socialization is extraordinarily complex. To cite it in terms of a herd of animals is extremely disingenuous.

        • by Verteiron (224042) on Wednesday May 18, 2011 @07:02PM (#36172506) Homepage

          Going against the consensus is hard, even if you have been trained or trained yourself to do so.

          I was watching TV with my wife's family a few years ago and "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?" was on. It's not a show I routinely watch but we all had fun shouting answers at the screen. Nice social behavior.

          The tricky bit came when a question that fell squarely into one of my big interests came along: "What planet does the moon Titan orbit?"

          The answers included Jupiter, Saturn, and a couple of obvious wrong ones. I immediately yelled "Saturn!" while nearly everyone else in the group said "Jupiter!".

          Now I KNEW that my answer was right. And some of people with me who said "Jupiter" started to reconsider, because it's common knowledge that I'm a space geek. The lady on the screen hemmed and hawed and finally chose to use one of her "lifelines" to poll the audience for the answer. Something like 80% of the audience said "Jupiter" and all support for my answer among my group fell away.

          It was the strangest feeling. I mean, I got up at 2 AM to see the Huygens photographs online. I used to draw pictures of Saturn rising over Titan when I was a kid. I KNEW the answer, and yet with the entire audience and half a family against me I suddenly began to doubt myself. Had I been wrong all these years, suffered some kind of strange delusion? Was Titan a Jovian moon? How could that many people all be wrong?

          Of course, a few seconds later the lady correctly answered "Saturn", throwing off the audience opinion and vindicating my chosen response, but it was a very odd sensation for that minute or so before the TV proved me right...

          • by syousef (465911)

            It was the strangest feeling. I mean, I got up at 2 AM to see the Huygens photographs online. I used to draw pictures of Saturn rising over Titan when I was a kid. I KNEW the answer, and yet with the entire audience and half a family against me I suddenly began to doubt myself. Had I been wrong all these years, suffered some kind of strange delusion? Was Titan a Jovian moon? How could that many people all be wrong?

            Of course, a few seconds later the lady correctly answered "Saturn", throwing off the audience opinion and vindicating my chosen response, but it was a very odd sensation for that minute or so before the TV proved me right...

            I'd have had no such second guessing. When it comes to matters of scientific fact you can bank on group opinion being wrong.

            • Have you ever noticed what happens to Jeopardy contestants when the question is at all scientific? It is frankly embarrassing. They know a ton about most everything, except basic science.
          • by tehcyder (746570)

            It was the strangest feeling. I mean, I got up at 2 AM to see the Huygens photographs online. I used to draw pictures of Saturn rising over Titan when I was a kid. I KNEW the answer, and yet with the entire audience and half a family against me I suddenly began to doubt myself. Had I been wrong all these years, suffered some kind of strange delusion? Was Titan a Jovian moon? How could that many people all be wrong?

            Would you have had the same doubts if the question had been "what is the square root of 16?" and everybody had been yelling out "8"?
            There are some things I would never doubt.

            • by Verteiron (224042)

              What made the experience odd was that, if someone had asked me that question -before- this happened, I would have said the same thing. Of course not! I know my solar system, Titan's a moon of Saturn, nothing could ever change my mind or make me doubt that.

              When it actually happened, though, the feeling just bubbled up; it was something about being in a group.

      • by perpenso (1613749)

        The brain isn't designed to think independent of context. It's built to be part of a social system. Yes, people need to think for themselves, but to mandate that requires us to break the architecture of our minds. It can't work as the primary solution.

        Context and group think are two different things. Context can work against emotion and in favor of reason. It helps judge the credibility of opinions.

        A social system and group think are two different things. A social system may have more to do with accepting a decision once one is made, and not so much to do with the decision making process and debate that led to the decision.

        You seem to be confusing the decision making process and following the decision once it is made. We may be wired to follow the

    • by vlm (69642)

      In short, crowd intelligence only works in cases where the opinion of others is considered but not blindly followed, where individuals think for themselves.

      and a culture / society where that is not strongly discouraged from youth onward. In other words forget the US, but it might work in other areas, maybe.

    • by hedwards (940851)

      The problem is that most people can't tell the difference between an opinion and a fact. Even if the fact is wrong, they still can't distinguish that from an opinion.

      You frequently see people complaining about "Obamacare" that's an incorrect fact, the actual meat and potatoes of the health care package was lifted from various conservative politicians, it only became "Obamacare" when they decided that they needed to stymy the President. All of the actual controversial aspects had been proposed by various con

      • by perpenso (1613749)

        The problem is that most people can't tell the difference between an opinion and a fact. Even if the fact is wrong, they still can't distinguish that from an opinion.

        You frequently see people complaining about "Obamacare" that's an incorrect fact, the actual meat and potatoes of the health care package was lifted from various conservative politicians, it only became "Obamacare" when they decided that they needed to stymy the President. All of the actual controversial aspects had been proposed by various conservative politicians.

        Congratulations, you have proved your own point regarding facts and opinions being confused. ;-) What you present as a fact is in reality an opinion. Another opinion is that it became "Obamacare" when it was done on a national scale rather than at a local level, that a unique characteristic of the Obama approach is a nationwide one-size-fits-all approach. Which of these opinions is more correct is irrelevant, both are opinions, neither are facts.

    • I didn't read the article, buuuut ;) I imagine the tests being like the Who Wants To Be a Millionaire ask the audience deal. When you ask everyone to vote without seeing the opinion of others, you'd be more likely to get the correct answer. Some people know then answer, but others are unsure. If they see the results of those who are just plain wrong before they see the results from those who know the answer, they might be tempted to vote against their initial correct, but unsure, guess.

      I'm not so sure that

      • by perpenso (1613749)

        I didn't read the article, buuuut ;) I imagine the tests being like the Who Wants To Be a Millionaire ask the audience deal. When you ask everyone to vote without seeing the opinion of others, you'd be more likely to get the correct answer.

        A classic experiment used to study group decision making is a variant of the knapsack problem [wikipedia.org]. A common scenario is that the group are survivors of a plane crash and they may have to hike out. They have more resources than they can carry, they have to prioritize items and only take a subset. Before discussions begin individuals are asked to rank the items on their own. Next discussion begin, opinions are offered, and the group comes to a consensus regarding the ranking of items. The rankings are then score

    • by Nerdfest (867930)

      where individuals think for themselves.

      If you say so.

    • by crunchygranola (1954152) on Wednesday May 18, 2011 @04:34PM (#36170568)

      In short, crowd intelligence only works in cases where the opinion of others is hidden.

      Nonsense. Opinions do *not* need to be hidden, opinions are one source of information. What needs to be suppressed are cliques, groupthink, etc. In short, crowd intelligence only works in cases where the opinion of others is considered but not blindly followed, where individuals think for themselves.

      In other words it almost always only works when the opinions of others are hidden. Those cases of groups of tough-minded independent thinkers being vanishingly rare.

      Even among seasoned experts overcoming the effects of groupthink requires special measures. Consider the "Delphi Technique" developed at RAND - where the experts pool their knowledge in multiple rounds anonymously.

      Declaring that people can avoid this by "just thinking for themselves" is akin to decreeing quality control by asserting "just don't make mistakes". It ignores the manifest reality of human existence in favor of idealized pip-dreams.

      • by perpenso (1613749)

        In short, crowd intelligence only works in cases where the opinion of others is hidden.

        Nonsense. Opinions do *not* need to be hidden, opinions are one source of information. What needs to be suppressed are cliques, groupthink, etc. In short, crowd intelligence only works in cases where the opinion of others is considered but not blindly followed, where individuals think for themselves.

        In other words it almost always only works when the opinions of others are hidden.

        No. To avoid redundancy read this respose: http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=2167128&cid=36170734 [slashdot.org].

        Those cases of groups of tough-minded independent thinkers being vanishingly rare.

        Tough mindedness is not required. I've seen the previously mentioned experiment performed on groups that included people ranging from the more aggressive to the more passive.

        Even among seasoned experts overcoming the effects of groupthink requires special measures. Consider the "Delphi Technique" developed at RAND - where the experts pool their knowledge in multiple rounds anonymously.

        You misrepresent the delphi technique. They key is not anonymity. They key is that answers to questions and comments on these answers are processed and filtered. They key is structured information, not anonymous information.

        In the

    • by Twinbee (767046)

      It doesn't mean hidden in that way. It means hidden before the results come through, and then everyone can help themselves to everyone else's opinion afterwards.

  • No wonder so many people like this talentless little sh--head.

  • by traindirector (1001483) on Wednesday May 18, 2011 @03:40PM (#36169922)

    Interesting. Maybe democracy would work better if we didn't know the opinions of others, have poll data, or hear media commentary other than candidates speaking and their records...

    • by MickyTheIdiot (1032226) on Wednesday May 18, 2011 @03:46PM (#36170002) Homepage Journal

      One election cycle I was only watching C-SPAN for coverage. It was amazing how differently I was thinking from everyone else. When I would change to CNN to a quick look the would be talking "strategy" or have "experts" talking out of the butt as usual and it was TOTALLY different from what I was thinking and the questions that came up in my mind. The media and these "experts" aren't called "opinion leaders" for nothing.

      • by blair1q (305137) on Wednesday May 18, 2011 @04:01PM (#36170172) Journal

        There's no money in opinion. There's plenty in spin.

      • by traindirector (1001483) on Wednesday May 18, 2011 @04:14PM (#36170298)

        This is exactly what happened with George W. Bush's felony wiretapping crimes. The clear fact was that he and his administration, through the NSA's new wiretapping programs, committed multiple wiretapping felonies, each punishable by law by up to five years in prison. Instead of reporting this inconvenient fact, the news "experts" focused on "strategy"--is it a good strategy for Democrats to hold the president to inconvenient standards like the law, when it might make them look weak on security? And somehow this massive crime was talked down into a non-issue, quietly pushed out of the scene, and when people had forgotten about it, swept under the rug by most everyone in power with retroactive immunities.

        I think (hope?) that without the "opinion leaders" the outcome would have been very different.

      • Isn't this why we try to have juries that have no existing opinion on the case, and one of the reasons we keep the sequestered.

    • Maybe why we were given a Republic by the Founders...if we could keep it.

    • by JackDW (904211)

      Doubtful, because even if opinions of others are hidden, the crowd is still only good at solving problems that most of the individuals within it (1) understand, and (2) can actually solve.

      Crowdsourcing works well if the point is to find the most popular answer. However, it is almost useless as a way to find the correct answer. It will only do so if the correct answer is really, really obvious.

      Ever see the game show "Who wants to be a millionaire?" If the contestant gets a difficult question, he/she can "A

      • Jean Jacques Roussea [wikipedia.org] once famously argued (famously amongst political philosophers at least) that it is necessarily rational to follow the majority decision, because the larger a group you pose a question to, the more likely the majority answer is going to be.

        He argued this roughly as follows:
        (1) The average person is at least a tiny, tiny bit more likely to be right than to be wrong on any given question.
        (2) Any bias in a set of figures will tend to be more pronounced in a larger set [e.g. a coin weighted

        • People are stupider in crowds if most of them would probably err the answer for a given question. If most of them would probably be right, it's best to go for majority vote than picking any of them randomly and asking the answer for the question.
      • "Ever see the game show "Who wants to be a millionaire?" If the contestant gets a difficult question, he/she can "Ask the audience", who then vote for the answer they think is right. This works well for questions about pop music and sport. It doesn't work so well for questions about history or particle physics, where people appear to vote randomly. If there are a few actual experts in the audience, their votes are still drowned out by the (random) votes of the masses."

        It would work well if it wasn't multipl

    • by Dahamma (304068)

      Don't forget abolish political parties... party affiliation alone is enough to make the decision for a many voters.

  • The most important take away from this is that polls are a bad idea This study suggests to me that the aggressive reporting on the results of polls related to upcoming elections explains why the quality of our leading politicians has been declining over the last several decades.
  • by jhoegl (638955) on Wednesday May 18, 2011 @03:44PM (#36169980)
    I believe that society fails when context is taken to the extreme and not countered or debated. When a one sided argument is presented and no one is allowed to counter that argument, it inevitably causes ignorance.
    Examples are all over our society, such as these recent examples. "Creationism" issue, what is "Fox News", and what happened during the Bush Jr era presidency. Jon Stewart had an issue just last week with Fox News presentation of a rapper and Fox News's inability to maintain a "status quo" in their arguments.
    So, when it comes to social influence, if one were to put themselves in a bubble, such as Facebook can, and online games allow due to heavy handed administrators, then yes... ignorance can perpetuate itself.

    Of course the counter to this is "trolls", those that make obviously inflamatory or ignorant counter arguments that defy belief and logic. But the reality is that some trolls are "for real" in their thinking. Is it really that far fetched to believe that some people in this world have no logical function what-so-ever? The proof is all around you.

    So, of course, because of this conundrum that they present, we shield ourselves from others opinions and call them trolls.

    Free flow of ideas was the internet, and never will be again.
    • by zildgulf (1116981)
      A more scary thought is :What if the trolls actually 100% believed in what they post?

      An even more scary thought is: What if the trolls are right about some things?

      Remember that even a broken Grandfather Clock is right twice a day. Somedays even I am not right twice that day. In some circumstances it is the troll that is right and we are wrong.


      Nahhhh... That cannot be right.
      • by jhoegl (638955)
        That was where I was going with some of my post.
        I have been called a troll for something I knew was correct and I had no idea why.
        But yeah, it is possible an opinion may be more correct than others. The problem is we have an inability on the internet to patiently think about and articulate our thoughts as to how we came to our conclusion.
        Or, those that actually do, are met with "TLDR" or ignorant puns and jackassery.
      • by Alex Belits (437) *

        A more scary thought is :What if the trolls actually 100% believed in what they post?

        This: http://knowyourmeme.com/i/1072/original/Trollface.png [knowyourmeme.com]

    • Fox News's inability to maintain a "status quo" in their arguments.

      That Latin phrase does not mean what you appear to think it does.

  • Mob/herd mentality (Score:4, Informative)

    by HalAtWork (926717) on Wednesday May 18, 2011 @03:45PM (#36169998)
    It's quite a familiar concept, has it just been re-labeled [wikipedia.org]?

    Herd mentality implies a fear-based reaction to peer pressure which makes individuals act in order to avoid feeling "left behind" from the group.

    Qualified as "fear-based" and a "reaction to peer pressure" already implies a negative force. It's always nice to have studies to back it up though.

  • The basis for most of what is believed in both realms.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Some of my colleagues recommended that I write a letter about how The Wisdom Of Crowds provides simplistic answers to complex problems. This is that letter. With this letter, I hope to help people break free of The Wisdom Of Crowds's cycle of oppression. But first, I would like to make the following introductory remark: The Wisdom Of Crowds likes thinking thoughts that aren't burdensome and that feel good. That's why it has always promoted the trendiest causes, the causes that all of the important people pr

  • ...that says something like "Persons are smart individually, but people are dumb." I didn't need a scientific study to reveal that factoid to me.

    "In short, crowd intelligence only works in cases where the opinion of others is hidden." Hell yeah, that's why bad comments get moderated up, but moderating down Goatse posts works brilliantly!

  • "Though we adore men individually, we agree that as a group they’re rather stupid.”
    Mrs. Banks in Mary Poppins
  • but more dangerous is a self-selecting subgroup who believes they know better than anyone else, and based on that, feel they have a right to impose their "wisdom" on everyone else. no, i'm not talking about math or hard science, i'm talking soft sciences or ideology. education isn't a protection, as "education" is often just indoctrination into a set of assumptions that cannot be doubted on fear of banishment from the group

    so i cast my lot with the wisdom of the mob. i don't trust the mob, but at least its allegiances are simple and easy to discern. in other words, yes, the mob is dumb, but the mob is also honest. so-called experts meanwhile are more often just ideologues with a political agenda to promote

  • by Sir_Eptishous (873977) on Wednesday May 18, 2011 @04:04PM (#36170202) Homepage
    Please watch Eli Pariser's talk at TED about Filter Bubbles: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gbi2i_Y7gSE [youtube.com] The "wisdom" of the crowds is "managed" via cherry picked search results, etc;
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 18, 2011 @04:07PM (#36170216)

    somehow a debate came up about whether cats eyes glow in the dark or are highly reflective, making them appear to glow in the dark in low light situations. The teacher honestly did not know the answer (facepalm) and asked the class to vote on it. It was almost unanimous that they did in fact glow in the dark, aside from me and one other poor soul. I remember that day very vividly. It was the day I realized people are dumb and a general consensus means NOTHING in terms of accuracy.

  • The fittest are not necessarily the smartest? The dummer the person, the higher the psychological resilience, the more numerous the offspring.... :D it seems joining the crowd in undermining the wisdom could be the better survival strategy from evolutionary perspective :D...
    • by tnk1 (899206)

      It's not really a matter of smart or dumb, its a matter of how well you socialize. If you are able to hook into society and thereby be able to make use of its resources better than the other guy, you will be more successful. That does mean people who are less intelligent overall, but have high social skills, can get much farther because social structure provides a huge benefit or multiplier. They can find people to do things for them or call on them for aid.

      A very, very smart person who cannot use the so

  • A person is smart. People are dumb, panicky, dangerous animals.
    - K
  • I'm confused, how is this new? I know that recent years have found ways in which crowds can sometimes be intelligent, but every first-year psych course begins by explaining how dumb ther are, and the seven reasons why. This is yet another observation done by a team who never cared to consider research already done and considered common sense.

    How boring.

  • sounds like they had a few trolls in their study. there's nothing better than having to debate common sense and logic with someone....
  • by Anonymous Coward

    ...Terry Pratchett told me. In several of the Discworld books, he has stated the the intelligence of a mob equals the intelligence of the stupidest member divided by the number of people in the mob.

    Sounds about right.

  • by gestalt_n_pepper (991155) on Wednesday May 18, 2011 @05:09PM (#36171046)

    The most common way is for crowd members to transmit and receive most information from each other, instead of all doing their own research. This tends to amplify distortion (Remember the "telephone" game from your childhood). When intra-crowd communication is minimized, the crowd again becomes accurate.

    This principle can be demonstrated by blogs that repeat stories from blogs that repeat stories from blogs.... Copy and paste, oddly enough, serves to minimize some of the distortion effects, however, additional commentary that accretes around the original story with each telling inevitably creates more distortion.

    Another distortion is the "Fox News" effect, where erroneous information is repeated endlessly to a large portion of the crowd. Repeated enough times, this method too distorts the information picture by adding single-source bias. FYI, this happens with all MSM media outlets. Fox News is just the most obvious example.

    So the wisdom of crowds exists and is useful, but the internet has provided a friction free means by which it can be distorted and become useless, or worse.

  • This is the age-old problem with democracies: What to do when the majority is wrong? This can easily happen when even the "smartiest" are ill informed, or influenced by advertising, or don't care -- and now it seems that the more people share their thoughts and ideas, the less likely it is that those ideas are optimal. It seems like we are trading critical thinking for a feeling of belonging.
  • I actually had a go at this a while ago. Orange UK ran a competition where you had to guess the amount of money (single denomination coins) in a tube. People were allowed one guess a day, to be posted on the relevant Twitted feed with a certain hashtag. The correct guess, or the closest to it after a number of days won the contents of the tube. The amount was somewhere in the hundreds of pounds.

    I tried two main methods to this, the first was to make an educated guess. Certain clues like the height of t

  • "A person is smart. People are dumb, panicky, dangerous animals and you know it."

    • by eepok (545733)

      "The fundamental cause of the trouble is that in the modern world the stupid are cocksure while the intelligent are full of doubt. "

  • Each time a security problem is discussed, I post the following comments:

    a) the programming languages used to construct affected programs (C and C++ in most cases) are inadequate for the purpose of making secure apps.

    b) operating systems could be designed in a better way, even coping with social engineering issues.

    c) CPUs could be designed in a better way as well, coping with software modularization issues related to security.

    Yet, each time, I meet the following responses:

    a) it doesn't matter if the program

Real Users never know what they want, but they always know when your program doesn't deliver it.

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