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Collective intelligence: is your website tapping it? (17 Apr 2006)
The best known example of the wisdom of crowds is democracy. Surowiecki's book begins in 1906, as it takes us on a trip to the Plymouth country fair with British scientist Francis Galton. "Breeding mattered to Galton because he believed that only a few people had the characteristics necessary to keep society healthy," Surowiecki writes. So Galton was not a big fan of democracy.

Galton came across a competition to judge the weight of an ox. Some eight hundred people had entered this competition. "They were a diverse lot," just like in a democracy, and Galton thought he could prove how stupid the crowd was. He got the tickets from the competition organizers and averaged the results. The average weight guessed was 1,197 pounds. The actual weight was 1,198 pounds.
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