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The Wisdom of Crowds: Why the Many Are Smarter Than the Few and How… (2004)

by James Surowiecki

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
3,762662,521 (3.77)31
In this book, New Yorker columnist Surowiecki explores a deceptively simple idea that has profound implications: large groups of people are smarter than an elite few, no matter how brilliant--better at solving problems, fostering innovation, coming to wise decisions, even predicting the future. With seemingly boundless erudition and in clear, entertaining prose, Surowiecki ranges across fields as diverse as popular culture, psychology, ant biology, economic behaviorism, artificial intelligence, military history and political theory to show just how this principle offers important lessons for how e live our lives, select our leaders, run our companies, and think about our world.--From publisher description.… (more)
  1. 30
    Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing Without Organizations by Clay Shirky (rakerman)
    rakerman: Shirky covers a lot of the "nonintuitive properties of internet-enabled crowds" ground that is explored in depth in Wisdom of Crowds
  2. 00
    Superforecasting: The Art and Science of Prediction by Philip E. Tetlock (szarka)
    szarka: More recent work with much more detail on the theme of decision-making (or, at least, forecasting) in small groups.
  3. 02
    Simplexity: Why Simple Things Become Complex by Jeffrey Kluger (Othemts)
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» See also 31 mentions

English (61)  German (1)  French (1)  Finnish (1)  Spanish (1)  All languages (65)
Showing 1-5 of 61 (next | show all)
Diverse crowds make better decisions on aggregate than individuals or groups of similar experts on most topics. That's the main takeaway of the book illustrated through a number of examples. I like the idea, but some of the ideas focused on ended up not holding my interest for the time discussed. ( )
  adamfortuna | May 28, 2021 |
Really good book on the way a crowd can have a better guess at the solution to a problem that an expert. Well worth reading ( )
  PDCRead | Apr 6, 2020 |
A detailed look at the ways in which large groups of diverse people acting or thinking independently can, in aggregate, sometimes be much better at decision-making and problem solving than individuals or small like-minded groups. (Think, for instance, of the way that polling the audience on Who Wants to Be a Millionaire pretty much always results in the right answer.)

There wasn't a whole lot in here that was particularly new to me, and I don't find all of it equally compelling, but it is a decent overview of the subject, with lots of examples. Interestingly, Surowiecki seems to spend almost as much time talking about the ways in which this sort of thing can go wrong and the conditions under which it doesn't work as he does on the ways in which it can be effective. Which I think is extremely important, actually, because otherwise it might be far too easy to take a shallow and naive reading of Surowiecki's arguments and end up subscribing to some familiar but misguided conclusions, like the idea that experts are completely useless (a notion he explicitly disclaims in the afterword to the edition of the book I have).

It's also worth mentioning that this was originally published in 2004, so it now feels rather dated, certainly in its examples, if not in its conclusions. I often found myself wondering how differently it would have been written today and whether events like the subprime mortgage crisis or the 2016 election would have changed the author's thinking any, or provided him new material to work with. I especially find myself wondering if the ways in which we've come to use the internet over the past fifteen years might have actually undermined our ability to make our individual decisions independently, something Surowiecki identifies as a key component of effective collective decision-making. ( )
  bragan | Aug 4, 2019 |
Excellent book, but then it fits with a confirmation bias and I was primed for it, as I do this all the time in my design meetings - I like to fill the room with brains, because while I have great confidence in my own judgment, I know my limitations and I always get the best answers from groups.

This was another book prompted from a quote used in the Inclusion and Diversity workshop I attended. Surowiecki uses anecdotal and empirical evidence to illustrate his points and as I indicated, my confirmation bias has a hard time arguing with his points.

Saving this for another run through in the future...good stuff in here. ( )
  Razinha | May 23, 2017 |
short ramblings ( )
  Brumby18 | Aug 25, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 61 (next | show all)
In ''The Wisdom of Crowds,'' James Surowiecki, who writes a column called The Financial Page for The New Yorker, challenges that received wisdom. He marshals evidence from the social sciences indicating that people in large groups are, in effect, better informed and more rational than any single member might be. The author has a knack for translating the most algebraic of research papers into bright expository prose -- though the swarm of anecdotes at times makes it difficult to follow the progress of his argument.
added by mikeg2 | editNew York Times, Scott McLemee (May 22, 2004)
 
New Yorker business columnist Surowiecki enlivens his argument with dozens of illuminating anecdotes and case studies from business, social psychology, sports, and everyday life.
added by Katya0133 | editEntertainment Weekly, David Koeppel
 
What emerges in "The Wisdom of Crowds" is a book that is both clever and slightly tiresome.
added by Katya0133 | editWall Street Journal, George Anders
 
This work is an intriguing study of collective intelligence and how it works in contemporary society.
added by Katya0133 | editLibrary Journal, Lucy Heckman
 
Surowiecki's style is pleasantly informal, a tactical disguise for what might otherwise be rather dense material.
added by Katya0133 | editPublishers Weekly
 

» Add other authors (10 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
James Surowieckiprimary authorall editionscalculated
Häilä, ArtoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Surowiecki, JamesAfterwordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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In this book, New Yorker columnist Surowiecki explores a deceptively simple idea that has profound implications: large groups of people are smarter than an elite few, no matter how brilliant--better at solving problems, fostering innovation, coming to wise decisions, even predicting the future. With seemingly boundless erudition and in clear, entertaining prose, Surowiecki ranges across fields as diverse as popular culture, psychology, ant biology, economic behaviorism, artificial intelligence, military history and political theory to show just how this principle offers important lessons for how e live our lives, select our leaders, run our companies, and think about our world.--From publisher description.

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An exploration of the social, scientific and historical reasons behind anti-vaccine proponents and an argument against this stance.
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