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The Wisdom of Crowds Paperback – 16 Aug 2005

4.1 out of 5 stars 44 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Anchor Books; Reprint edition (16 Aug. 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385721706
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385721707
  • Product Dimensions: 13.2 x 1.8 x 20.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars 44 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 47,563 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product description

Amazon Review

Smart people often believe that the opinion of the crowd is always inferior to the opinion of the individual specialist. Philosophical giants such as Nietzsche thought that "Madness is the exception in individuals but the rule in groups". Henry David Thoreau lamented: "The mass never comes up to the standard of its best member but on the contrary degrades itself to a level with the lowest member." The motto of the great and the ordinary seems to be: Bet on the expert because crowds are generally stupid and often dangerous. Business columnist James Surowiecki’s new book The Wisdom of Crowds explains exactly why the conventional wisdom is wrong. The fact is that, under the right circumstances, groups are remarkably intelligent, and are often smarter than the smartest people in them. Groups don’t even need to be dominated by exceptionally intelligent people in order to be smart. Even if most of the people within a group are not especially well-informed or rational, it can still reach a collectively wise decision. Why? Because, as it turns out, if you ask a large enough group of diverse, independent people to make a prediction or estimate a probability, and then average those estimates, the errors each of them makes in coming up with an answer will cancel themselves out. Not any old crowd will do of course. For the crowd to be wise it has to satisfy four specific conditions, but once those conditions are met, its judgment is likely to be accurate.

Surowieki concentrates on three kinds of problems. The first are cognition problems (problems that are likely to have definitive answers, such as: "How many books will Amazon sell this month?"). The second are problems of coordination (problems requiring members of a group to figure out how to coordinate their behaviour with one another) and the third are problems of cooperation (getting self-interested, distrustful people to work together-- despite their selfishness). The brilliant first half of the book illustrates this theory with practical examples. The second half of the book essentially consists of case studies with each chapter talking about the way collective intelligence either flourishes or flounders. Much of this part deals with business topics such as corporations, markets and the dynamics of a stock-market bubble.

Surowieki has an engaging, direct style defending his surprising central thesis in entertaining ways by, for example, talking about laying bets on football games and political elections; traffic jams; Google; the Challenger explosion and the search for a missing submarine. The Wisdom of Crowds is an entertaining book making a serious point and by the end of the superb first half the reader has been made to accept that, while with most things, the average is mediocrity, when it comes to decision-making the average results in excellence. --Larry Brown

Review

"As entertaining and thought-provoking as The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell.... The Wisdom of Crowds ranges far and wide." -"The Boston Globe""A fun, intriguing read-and a concept with enormous potential for CEOs and politicos alike." -"Newsweek""This book is not just revolutionary but essential reading for everyone."-"Christian Science Monitor""Provocative....Musters ample proof that the payoff from heeding collective intelligence is greater than many of us imagine." -"BusinessWeek""There's no danger of dumbing down for the masses who read this singular book." -"Entertainment Weekly""Clearly and persuasively written." -"Newsday""Convincingly argues that under the right circumstances, it's the crowd that's wiser than even society's smartest individuals. "New Yorker "business columnist Surowiecki enlivens his argument with dozens of illuminating anecdotes and case studies from business, social psychology, sports and everyday life." -"Entertainment Weekly""The author has a knack for translating the most algebraic of research papers into bright expository prose." -"The New York Times Book Review""Dazzling . . . one of those books that will turn your world upside down. It's an adventure story, a manifesto, and the most brilliant book on business, society, and everyday life that I've read in years." -Malcolm Gladwell, author of The Tipping Point "Surowiecki's clear writing and well-chosen examples render complicated mathematical and sociological theories easy to grasp. . . . [His] accounts of how the wisdom of crowds has formed the world we live in will thrill trivia mavens-and may make a better investor (or football coach) out of anyone who takes its conclusions to heart." -"Time Out New York""This book should be in every thinking businessperson's library. Without exception." -Po Bronson, author of What Should I Do With My Life?
"Drawing from biology, behavioral economics, and computer science, Surowiecki offers answers to such timeless-and often rhetorical-questions as "Why does the line you're standing in always seem to move the slowest?" and "Why is there so much garbage on TV?" The result is a highly original set of conclusions about how our world works." -"Seed Magazine""As readers of Surowiecki's writings in "The New Yorker "will know, he has a rare gift for combining rigorous thought with entertaining example. "["The Wisdom of Crowds"]" is packed with amusing ideas that leave the reader feeling better-educated." -"Financial Times "(London)"The book is deeply researched and well-written, and the result is a fascinating read." -"Deseret Morning News""Jim Surowiecki has done the near impossible. He's taken what in other hands would be a dense and difficult subject and given us a book that is engaging, surprising, and utterly persuasive. The Wisdom of Crowds will change the way you think about markets, economics, and a large swatch of everyday life." -Joe Nocera, editorial director of "Fortune" magazine and author of "A Piece of the Action" "Makes a compelling case." -"The Gazette "(Montreal)"Deftly compressing a small library's worth of research into a single slim and readable volume, the Financial Page columnist at "The New Yorker "makes his bid to capture the zeitgeist as his colleague Malcolm Gladwell did with The Tipping Point. . . . The author has produced something surprising and new: a sociological tract as gripping as a good novel." -"Best Life""Surowiecki is a patient and vivid writer with a knack for telling examples." -"Denver Post ""Most crowds of readers would agree that Jim Surowiecki is one of the most interesting journalists working today. Now he has written a book that will exceed even their expectations. Anyone open to re-thinking their most basic assumptions-people who enjoyed The Tipping Point, say-will love this book." -Michael Lewis, author of Moneyball
"Surowiecki's is a big-idea book." -"Salon.com""It has become increasingly recognized that the average opinions of groups is frequently more accurate than most individuals in the group. The author has written a most interesting survey of the many studies in this area and discussed the limits as well as the achievements of self-organization." -Kenneth Arrow, winner of the Nobel Prize in Economics and Professor of Economics (Emeritus), Stanford University"Clever and surprising.... The originality and sheer number of demonstrations of the impressive power of collective thinking provided here are fascinating, and oddly comforting." -"Bookforum""An illuminating book." -"Detroit Free Press"

As entertaining and thought-provoking as The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell.... The Wisdom of Crowds ranges far and wide. "The Boston Globe" A fun, intriguing read and a concept with enormous potential for CEOs and politicos alike. "Newsweek" This book is not just revolutionary but essential reading for everyone. "Christian Science Monitor" Provocative....Musters ample proof that the payoff from heeding collective intelligence is greater than many of us imagine. "BusinessWeek" There s no danger of dumbing down for the masses who read this singular book. "Entertainment Weekly" Clearly and persuasively written. "Newsday" Convincingly argues that under the right circumstances, it s the crowd that s wiser than even society s smartest individuals. "New Yorker "business columnist Surowiecki enlivens his argument with dozens of illuminating anecdotes and case studies from business, social psychology, sports and everyday life. "Entertainment Weekly" The author has a knack for translating the most algebraic of research papers into bright expository prose. "The New York Times Book Review""Dazzling . . . one of those books that will turn your world upside down. It's an adventure story, a manifesto, and the most brilliant book on business, society, and everyday life that I've read in years." Malcolm Gladwell, author of The Tipping Point Surowiecki s clear writing and well-chosen examples render complicated mathematical and sociological theories easy to grasp. . . . [His] accounts of how the wisdom of crowds has formed the world we live in will thrill trivia mavens and may make a better investor (or football coach) out of anyone who takes its conclusions to heart. "Time Out New York""This book should be in every thinking businessperson's library. Without exception." Po Bronson, author of What Should I Do With My Life?
Drawing from biology, behavioral economics, and computer science, Surowiecki offers answers to such timeless and often rhetorical questions as Why does the line you re standing in always seem to move the slowest? and Why is there so much garbage on TV? The result is a highly original set of conclusions about how our world works. "Seed Magazine" As readers of Surowiecki s writings in "The New Yorker "will know, he has a rare gift for combining rigorous thought with entertaining example. "["The Wisdom of Crowds"]" is packed with amusing ideas that leave the reader feeling better-educated. "Financial Times "(London) The book is deeply researched and well-written, and the result is a fascinating read. "Deseret Morning News""Jim Surowiecki has done the near impossible. He's taken what in other hands would be a dense and difficult subject and given us a book that is engaging, surprising, and utterly persuasive. The Wisdom of Crowds will change the way you think about markets, economics, and a large swatch of everyday life." Joe Nocera, editorial director of "Fortune" magazine and author of "A Piece of the Action" Makes a compelling case. "The Gazette "(Montreal) Deftly compressing a small library s worth of research into a single slim and readable volume, the Financial Page columnist at "The New Yorker "makes his bid to capture the zeitgeist as his colleague Malcolm Gladwell did with The Tipping Point. . . . The author has produced something surprising and new: a sociological tract as gripping as a good novel. "Best Life" Surowiecki is a patient and vivid writer with a knack for telling examples. "Denver Post ""Most crowds of readers would agree that Jim Surowiecki is one of the most interesting journalists working today. Now he has written a book that will exceed even their expectations. Anyone open to re-thinking their most basic assumptions people who enjoyed The Tipping Point, say will love this book." Michael Lewis, author of Moneyball
Surowiecki s is a big-idea book. "Salon.com""It has become increasingly recognized that the average opinions of groups is frequently more accurate than most individuals in the group. The author has written a most interesting survey of the many studies in this area and discussed the limits as well as the achievements of self-organization." Kenneth Arrow, winner of the Nobel Prize in Economics and Professor of Economics (Emeritus), Stanford University Clever and surprising.... The originality and sheer number of demonstrations of the impressive power of collective thinking provided here are fascinating, and oddly comforting. "Bookforum" An illuminating book. "Detroit Free Press""

As entertaining and thought-provoking as The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell.... The Wisdom of Crowds ranges far and wide. The Boston Globe A fun, intriguing read and a concept with enormous potential for CEOs and politicos alike. Newsweek This book is not just revolutionary but essential reading for everyone. Christian Science Monitor Provocative....Musters ample proof that the payoff from heeding collective intelligence is greater than many of us imagine. BusinessWeek There s no danger of dumbing down for the masses who read this singular book. Entertainment Weekly Clearly and persuasively written. Newsday Convincingly argues that under the right circumstances, it s the crowd that s wiser than even society s smartest individuals. New Yorker business columnist Surowiecki enlivens his argument with dozens of illuminating anecdotes and case studies from business, social psychology, sports and everyday life. Entertainment Weekly The author has a knack for translating the most algebraic of research papers into bright expository prose. The New York Times Book Review"Dazzling . . . one of those books that will turn your world upside down. It's an adventure story, a manifesto, and the most brilliant book on business, society, and everyday life that I've read in years." Malcolm Gladwell, author of The Tipping Point Surowiecki s clear writing and well-chosen examples render complicated mathematical and sociological theories easy to grasp. . . . [His] accounts of how the wisdom of crowds has formed the world we live in will thrill trivia mavens and may make a better investor (or football coach) out of anyone who takes its conclusions to heart. Time Out New York"This book should be in every thinking businessperson's library. Without exception." Po Bronson, author of What Should I Do With My Life?
Drawing from biology, behavioral economics, and computer science, Surowiecki offers answers to such timeless and often rhetorical questions as Why does the line you re standing in always seem to move the slowest? and Why is there so much garbage on TV? The result is a highly original set of conclusions about how our world works. Seed Magazine As readers of Surowiecki s writings in The New Yorker will know, he has a rare gift for combining rigorous thought with entertaining example. [The Wisdom of Crowds] is packed with amusing ideas that leave the reader feeling better-educated. Financial Times (London) The book is deeply researched and well-written, and the result is a fascinating read. Deseret Morning News"Jim Surowiecki has done the near impossible. He's taken what in other hands would be a dense and difficult subject and given us a book that is engaging, surprising, and utterly persuasive. The Wisdom of Crowds will change the way you think about markets, economics, and a large swatch of everyday life." Joe Nocera, editorial director of Fortune magazine and author of A Piece of the Action Makes a compelling case. The Gazette (Montreal) Deftly compressing a small library s worth of research into a single slim and readable volume, the Financial Page columnist at The New Yorker makes his bid to capture the zeitgeist as his colleague Malcolm Gladwell did with The Tipping Point. . . . The author has produced something surprising and new: a sociological tract as gripping as a good novel. Best Life Surowiecki is a patient and vivid writer with a knack for telling examples. Denver Post "Most crowds of readers would agree that Jim Surowiecki is one of the most interesting journalists working today. Now he has written a book that will exceed even their expectations. Anyone open to re-thinking their most basic assumptions people who enjoyed The Tipping Point, say will love this book." Michael Lewis, author of Moneyball
Surowiecki s is a big-idea book. Salon.com"It has become increasingly recognized that the average opinions of groups is frequently more accurate than most individuals in the group. The author has written a most interesting survey of the many studies in this area and discussed the limits as well as the achievements of self-organization." Kenneth Arrow, winner of the Nobel Prize in Economics and Professor of Economics (Emeritus), Stanford University Clever and surprising.... The originality and sheer number of demonstrations of the impressive power of collective thinking provided here are fascinating, and oddly comforting. Bookforum An illuminating book. Detroit Free Press"

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