What's the Latest?

Spanish researchers have discovered that crowds may be less wise than we once thought, at least according to the (often observed) phenomena that aggregated wisdom is more accurate than that of a single individual. The problem, easily witnessed by which stories rise to the top of Internet lists like Reddit, is that many individuals are easily influenced by others' opinions, quickly adopting them as their own. But the research team at at the Cajal Institute in Madrid say this isn't the case with confident people, who are innately less swayed by what other people say and tend to rate their own opinion as correct despite intervening data. 

What's the Big Idea?

Relying on crowds for wisdom really means relying on a group of confident people within a crowd for wisdom, but how would observers separate out the confident from the unsure? In order to divide the biased from the unbiased, researchers created a formula based on how much individuals say they are swayed by others' opinions and compared that to how much they actually were. The researchers concluded that "while a simple operation like the mean, median, or geometric mean of a group may not allow groups to make good estimations, a more complex operation taking into account individuality in the social dynamics can lead to a better collective intelligence."

Read more at Technology Review

Photo credit: Shutterstock