Wisdom of the crowd

Collective perception of a group of people / From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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The wisdom of the crowd is the collective opinion of a diverse independent group of individuals rather than that of a single expert. This process, while not new to the Information Age, has been pushed into the mainstream spotlight by social information sites such as Quora, Reddit, Stack Exchange, Wikipedia, Yahoo! Answers, and other web resources which rely on collective human knowledge.[1] An explanation for this phenomenon is that there is idiosyncratic noise associated with each individual judgment, and taking the average over a large number of responses will go some way toward canceling the effect of this noise.[2]

Trial by jury can be understood as at least partly relying on wisdom of the crowd, compared to bench trial which relies on one or a few experts. In politics, sometimes sortition is held as an example of what wisdom of the crowd would look like. Decision-making would happen by a diverse group instead of by a fairly homogenous political group or party. Research within cognitive science has sought to model the relationship between wisdom of the crowd effects and individual cognition.

A large group's aggregated answers to questions involving quantity estimation, general world knowledge, and spatial reasoning has generally been found to be as good as, but often superior to, the answer given by any of the individuals within the group.

Jury theorems from social choice theory provide formal arguments for wisdom of the crowd given a variety of more or less plausible assumptions. Both the assumptions and the conclusions remain controversial, even though the theorems themselves are not. The oldest and simplest is Condorcet's jury theorem (1785).