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Learning from the Wisdom of the Crowd

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Finding “widely respected experts” to validate and/or refine our own ideas is easy if you understand how to distinguish between “the wisdom of the crowd” and “the uninformed mob.” Book recommendations on Amazon, Switzerland’s Direct Democracy, and prediction markets are all examples of effective crowd wisdom in action.

However, many people with an elitist mindset have an instinctive and unjustified aversion to the “wisdom of the crowd” because they don’t understand the data and the reality of how wisdom in crowds actually works (see also Swarm Intelligence). Or, they benefit from the toxic status quo and are willfully blind to any data that confirms how crowd wisdom is superior to the idiotic, systemically corrupt decision-making processes that dominate so many institutions today. Their unconscious fears, insecurities, and false assumptions about “mob passions” and “group-think” blind them to the obvious benefits of crowd-based (not mob-based) decision-making.

Tyrannical Individuals Are Far More Dangerous than Crowd Wisdom. Yes, group-think can sometimes lead to sub-optimal outcomes; and yes, destructive behavior has occasionally resulted from impassioned mobs, but far greater and more frequent destruction to human life and societies has occurred at the hands of self-assured tyrants who exploited and concentrated their power in direct opposition to what the wisdom of the crowd would have achieved. That is the rule, not the exception, of government tyranny and the destruction of human societies throughout human history. Virtually every war, every economic crisis, and every act of domestic household violence (i.e., virtually every bad human behavior at every level of society) can be directly attributed to the dictatorial and destructive human behavior of specific humans, not “the crowd,” group-think, or mob passions.

Crowd Wisdom Did Not Create Broken Capitalism. The so-called political and business leaders that control the largest U.S. institutions today are constantly making economically and socially destructive decisions precisely because they are pandering to corporate interests and ignoring the wisdom of the crowd. That means it’s not accurate to blame any social or economic problem on the crowd when the perpetrators of the most harmful actions in our society are concentrated within a self-serving political and financial circle of so-called elites who constantly ignore the interests and wisdom of the crowd.

For all those reasons and many more, neither Orwell's “memory hole” nor the “intellectual degradation of the voting population” are sufficient to explain what is destroying human societies and institutions on Earth today. In contrast, the principles in Broken Capitalism (and many other books) directly and substantially explain exactly what is eroding the value creation engine, democratic integrity, and social cohesion in every capitalistic society on Earth today.

Note: This article is an excerpt from a longer article at The excerpt above makes a little more sense in its original context, but that longer article covers some more abstract topics that are probably only interesting to book aficionados and fans of George Orwell. So, we didn't include it here.

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