Can Crowds Really be Intelligent?

A common misperception of Crowd IQ is that it contains the most basic level of knowledge. It is assumed that the collective intelligence is nothing more than common sense knowledge. Others go even further to state that crowds are mindless, uncivilized beings that have no control. This couldn’t be further from the truth.

For one thing, crowds are self-organizing. Not only do they have side preferences for passing people, they can organize themselves efficiently (for example in a V-formation) when spaces become tighter and more crowded. All this is done spontaneously without any sort of communication or confirmation from each other. This self-organizing behaviour results in a highly-efficient system that does not need to be dictated or controlled.

Science writer Michael Bond says that attempting to control unruly crowds (e.g., in a protest or sports game riot) is not only pointless but also unnecessary. “It is far better to let people regulate themselves and adapt to their environment, according to a growing body of evidence on the intelligence of crowds.”

He also raises another interesting point. “Crowds are intelligent, so long as they’re cohesive.” For example, if someone gets impatient in a crowd and starts elbowing their way through everyone desperately trying to reach their own individual pace, the flow of the crowd becomes interrupted and receives a slight disorientation.

Applying this to CrowdBridge’s Forecasting system, it can be suggested that many people’s predictions are often influenced by the most common opinion of the crowd. This demonstrates a universal faith in the collective knowledge. When someone does not believe in the crowd and turns out to be the most correct individual, that is something truly worth feeling powerful about. This happens often enough on and it is really quite impressive. However, thus far, we can see that the crowd is right slightly more frequently than an individual is.

Think you’re that individual? Head over to now and bank on your intuition! It is more than achievable and would give you serious bragging rights.

Leah Cross

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