Friday, June 13, 2014

Philosophy Wire: Ignore majority. Death is good!

Philosophy Wire by Spiros Kakos [2014-06-13]:

Too many cooks really do spoil the broth as new research found smaller groups make more accurate decisions. A study by Princeton University suggests collective intelligence, or the "wisdom of crowds," may not be as effective as previously thought.

It found the more people involved in making a decision, the bigger the greater the chance of bad decisions.
The "wisdom of crowds theory was based on observations by English statistician Sir Francis Galton's more than a century ago who stated group decisions are enhanced as more individuals have input. He observed a contest in which villagers attempted to guess the weight of an ox and although not one of the 787 estimates was correct, the average of the guessed weights was a mere one-pound short of the animal's recorded heft.

But collective decision-making has rarely been tested under complex, "realistic" circumstances where information comes from multiple sources The new study, published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B, used simulations to investigate how numbers of individuals effected their ability to make a decision. The group's decision accuracy was determined by how well individuals could use two types of information. 
One that was known to all members of the group - known as correlated information - and another that was perceived by only some individuals, or uncorrelated information.

The researchers found that the communal ability to pool both pieces of information into a correct, or accurate, decision was highest in a band of five to 20. After that, the accurate decision increasingly eluded the expanding group.

Albert Kao, a graduate student of ecology and evolutionary biology who co-authored the study, said with more individuals, that which is known by all members comes to dominate the decision-making process.
The uncorrelated information gets drowned out, even if individuals within the group are still well aware of it.
In smaller groups, on the other hand, the lesser-known cues nonetheless earn as much consideration as the more common information. This is due to the more random nature of small groups, which is known as 'noise' and typically seen as an unwelcome distraction. Mr Kao found that noise is surprisingly advantageous in these smaller arrangements and said: "It's surprising that noise can enhance the collective decision".

"We found that if you increase group size, you see the wisdom-of-crowds benefit, but if the group gets too large there is an over-reliance on high-correlation information". [1]

The majority cannot decide well.
Do not trust it.
The majority believes health is good.
The majority believes death is bad.
Simply ignore it.
And believe the exact opposite.
Most of the times you will end up in unexpected wisdom…

And yes, most will consider this wrong. ;)

(c) Philosophy WIRES - Commenting world news from philosophy's perspective…

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