The Wisdom of Crowds is one of my favourite books. I’m persuaded by its basic contention that the average/ collective wisdom of the crowd is superior to that of the usual expert classes. One of author James Surowiecki’s ‘proofs’ for the wisdom of crowds is the Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? quiz show:
“When a contestant on the show is stumped by a question, he has a couple of choices in asking for help: the audience or someone he’s designated as an expert. The experts do a reasonable job: They get the answer right 65% of the time. But the audience is close to perfect: It gets the answer right 91% of the time, even though it’s made up of people who have nothing better to do than sit in a TV studio”.
Tonight we’ll test the wisdom of the ConservativeHome crowd. Over the last six hours I’ve sought your predictions for the scale of Tory gains tonight. One ConservativeHomie – Steed – has predicted losses of 30 seats (the only prediction of losses). At the other end of the predictions spectrum is Bel with a prediction of 456 Tory gains. The mean average prediction of 66 ConservativeHomies comes out at +256*. Tom Ainsworth with his prediction of 254 comes closest to this mean.
Footnote: The wisdom of the crowds fails when there are problems of groupthink. I haven’t noticed much groupthink on ConservativeHome. You all appear pretty independent-minded. Neither have I spotted any impossibly large predictions by Cameron-sceptics today wanting Mr C to look like he has fallen short or, on the other hand, Cameron enthusiasts, making excessively cautious predictions. My guess is that the great prize of a ConservativeHome mug has made you all reasonably focused and honest!
* I haven’t double-checked this rapid calculation but it seems about right.