Wisdom of the Crowd 2018

Were you asked to guess the number of cornflakes in a jar, and are you curious how many were in there, and if peoples average guess is indeed close to being correct?

The actual number of cornflakes was 1146 and the average guess was a remarkable 1149,7. Out of 270 guesses no one came closer to the correct answer. 1150 was the best individual guess but guesses varied widely- some where in the hundreds and some where in the thousands.

Judging by our experiment the phenomenon of the wisdom of the crowd truly has merit. Aristotle compared it to a potluck dinner where everyone brings a different dish and the result is surprisingly good. We will do the experiment again next year as we always do as a Thales Day ritual. We will see if our result will be as impressive. If you like the initiative behind Thales Day we welcome you to send us your email adresse and/or like us on Facebook and get updates on future Thales Day events. Before liking you can see the Facebook page HERE
Thanks a lot for participating.

Winners holding an olive tree

The winner of an olive tree for having the best individual guess amongst participants at Thales Day in Rundetaarn, Copenhagen 2018

Why do winners get an olive tree?

In part XI of Book 1 of his 'Politics' Aristotle tells of an illustrative anecdote in which Thales predicted that the weather would be favorable to the olive harvest the following year. He therefore bought the rights to the olive presses in his hometown of Miletus and the neighbouring town. When his prediction came true and everyone needed the presses he sold the rights further on to a prize he himself fixed. He did so to show that philosophers can indeed make money but that they are interested in other things-- those other things being philosophy, which means love of knowledge and wisdom.