The wisdom of crowds

There’s an interesting report this week in The New Scientist on the wisdom of crowds. It summarizes a number of recent studies showing that crowds may be wiser than we’ve been told. Here’s an excerpt:

The “unruly mob” concept is usually taken as read and used as the basis for crowd control measures and evacuation procedures across the world. Yet it is almost entirely a myth. Research into how people behave at demonstrations, sports events, music festivals and other mass gatherings shows not only that crowds nearly always act in a highly rational way, but also that when facing an emergency, people in a crowd are more likely to cooperate than panic. Paradoxically, it is often actions such as kettling [corralling the entire crowd into a small area] that lead to violence breaking out. Often, the best thing authorities can do is leave a crowd to its own devices.

via Why cops should trust the wisdom of the crowds – life – 17 July 2009 – New Scientist.

3 thoughts on “The wisdom of crowds

  1. I’m trying to find a pithy quote, but I’ll just leave a citation for George Rudé’s _The Crowd in the French Revolution_, in which Rudé argued that the French mob was not a mindless violent force but a rational tool of political protest.


  2. I find the wisdom of crowd very interesting. In information and knowledge domain, crowdsource has brought lots of excitement. However, there is skepticism on whether or not crowd can indeed be a solution to many of our problems. The article provides some insights on this.

    Many cities in developing countries look like chaos for those who first visit there. But a careful observer soon begins to see social order within that chaos. How does such an order gets developed, spontaneously in many instances, is an interesting question. Equally interesting is what makes them cooperate in those seemingly chaotic situations.


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