The Wisdom of Crowds: Why the Many are Smarter Than the Few and how Collective Wisdom Shapes Business, Economies, Societies, and Nations

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Doubleday, 2004 - Business & Economics - 296 pages
81 Reviews
“No one in this world, so far as I know, has ever lost money by underestimating the intelligence of the great masses of the plain people.”  —H. L. Mencken
 
H. L. Mencken was wrong.

In this endlessly fascinating book,New Yorkercolumnist James Surowiecki explores a deceptively simple idea that has profound implications: large groups of people aresmarterthan an elite few, no matter how brilliant—better at solving problems, fostering innovation, coming to wise decisions, even predicting the future.

This seemingly counterintuitive notion has endless and major ramifications for how businesses operate, how knowledge is advanced, how economies are (or should be) organized and how we live our daily lives. With seemingly boundless erudition and in delightfully clear 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 operates in the real world. 

Despite the sophistication of his arguments, Surowiecki presents them in a wonderfully entertaining manner. The examples he uses are all down-to-earth, surprising, and fun to ponder. Why is the line in which you’re standing always the longest? Why is it that you can buy a screw anywhere in the world and it will fit a bolt bought ten-thousand miles away? Why is network television so awful? If you had to meet someone in Paris on a specific day but had no way of contacting them, when and where would you meet? Why are there traffic jams? What’s the best way to win money on a game show? Why, when you walk into a convenience store at 2:00 A.M. to buy a quart of orange juice, is it there waiting for you? What do Hollywood mafia movies have to teach us about why corporations exist?

The Wisdom of Crowdsis a brilliant but accessible biography of an idea, one with important lessons for how we live our lives, select our leaders, conduct our business, and think about our world.

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - thcson - LibraryThing

This book was so bad that reviewing it feels like a waste of time, but I will briefly explain what's wrong with it. The author begins with an old idea: crowds can be wise when they exhibit diversity ... Read full review

Review: The Wisdom of Crowds

User Review  - Keith Swenson - Goodreads

This book is not only a fascinating collection of interesting observations which is well written and easy to read, it is an important book that contains truths about the world that everyone should ... Read full review

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About the author (2004)

SUROWIECKI is a staff writer at The New Yorker, where he writes the popular business column, “The Financial Page.” His work has appeared in a wide range of publications, including the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, Artforum, Wired, and Slate. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.

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