Today I had one of these coincidences of picking up ideas and knowledge. First, I heard the news item that China, for the first time if I understood it correctly, wants to measure how long the Great Wall is. This brought the thought to my mind: Why don’t they just pay 100000 Chinese to walk the whole length (or 1000000 to walk a tenth of the length) and count their steps, then multiply by their average step length and average all counts of the lenghts. Shouldn’t that result in a pretty good value at the end? I wonder how much different that value would be from an accurate measurement, I would guess only few metres wrong.
Now, I read a blog item on Crowdsourcing, which ultimately lead me to Francis Galton, who discovered this effect when he was trying to prove that if he let a bunch of people together are dumb. He let 787 guess the weight of an ox, and wanted to show that the average guess wouldn’t be a good guess. He failed and instead found that the average was a really good guess!
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