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A Google+ Experiment in Collective Intelligence

UPDATE: I'm closing down this version of the experiment to fix some problems with the below image. Please go here instead:

Please help me run an experiment to test whether the "wisdom of crowds" actually works here on Google+ and see if this community can collectively guess the number of (generic-brand) "Cheerios" in the below glass vase.

The three conditions for a group to be collectively intelligent are diversity, independence, and decentralization. Here are the two steps to run this experiment:

1) Without looking at others' responses (to ensure the independence of our guesses), comment below with your single best guess on how many Cheerios are in the vase. It's one vase, not two; just shown from two different perspectives. Only one guess per person, please.

2) Share this post with your circles to help increase the diversity and decentralization of our guesses.

More info:

Individually, the probability of your guessing the right number of Cheerios is really low, of course. But if there truly is wisdom in a crowd, then when the answers of a large number of people are averaged together, it should converge on the right answer. That's the theory, and that's what we're testing here.

I will let this experiment run until 8PM GMT on April 18. At that point, I'll go through each comment, everywhere it's been shared, plus it to mark that it's been recorded as I input its guess into a spreadsheet. I'll calculate the average and look for some other results and then share our collective guess with you in a follow up post to report on just how wise we are - collectively. To make sure you get it, I will post a comment on every place this post is shared, pointing back to these results.

The ten people with the closest guesses will be featured prominently in that follow up post and I'll also highlight the people who shared the post in which those top ten guesses occurred as a way to recognize at least some of you for helping to ensure the diversity and decentralization of our guesses.

Thanks in advance for your help. I can't wait to see the results and share them with you.

Again, the three conditions for a group to be collectively intelligent are diversity, independence, and decentralization. If you're interested in learning more, here's James Surowiecki's "The Wisdom of Crowds" book on Amazon:

And here's the Wikipedia article on "Wisdom of Crowds":

Edited to note that these are, indeed, not actual "Cheerios" - but a generic brand. Please count the number of "cheerio-like" pieces of cereal. ;-)
Hyalcinth Bienvidar's profile photoZhelyan Panchev's profile photoMark Grimes's profile photoJesper hammershøj's profile photo
That means I get another shot at it -yay.
You may have to exclude outliers like Ali above.
Zero those aren't cheerios
491, multiplied width * height * depth, subtracted some corners.
Yes, there are people who bet >1000. I gave 1491 as you know. Keep the faith, keep the faith! :-)

Also, did anyone else notice that there were 501 comments on that first post? how did that happen?
Oh I saw already two comments before reading the post :( I was tempted to just say I will ignore them, but of course I would already have been biased
222; and this is a really cool idea. I'm looking forward to seeing the results. Hopefully you get some good press out of it.
450...isn't one to the conditions for "wisdom of crowds" to work a profit motive too?
Oli Lan
This is a great idea but it's too easy to accidentally see someone else's guess, which ruins the effect. Also I'm guessing it'll be a pain to copy over all the guesses. A shared Google Docs form would be a much better way to run an experiment like this.
when are you going on TED?
How in the world do you expect "wisdom of crowds"???
EG. the demos of Coriolanus
Around 312 or so. And by the way, I very often win those "guess the jelly beans" contests... often enough that I scare my family ;)
17 layers with 50 per... 850 total!
Actually can I guesstimate it down to 350,7 wide and 15 a few extra.
If my math is correct is is Exactly 2358.6012084592145015105740181269 Cheerios. So about half a box. ;)
0. They may be classified as generic "cheerio" pieces, but they are actually Apple Jacks. Therefore, they are neither "cheerio" nor "generic" cereal pieces. QED: 0.

Having said that, counting cereal pieces, approximately 500 - 750 pieces, but can be as high as 2800 under certain circumstances.

But I stick with 0.
zero, those aren't cheerios those are Trader Joe's O's.
250. My mind says that's a high estimate, my feeling (maybe seeing other comments--but I calculated 250 before looking!) says it's a low estimate.

Where is rainman when you need him?

I will say that I think you underestimate the trollishness of the Internet. Are you planning to weed out the obvious outliers? What if someone guesses 1... or 1,000,000... Those numbers will greatly skew your results based on the intentional disruption of your experiment. You may have been better off to just as for guesses without any explanation at all.
Having said that, I think the wisdom of crowds doesn't come into play in this example? I thought you needed interaction between people to fully utilize the wisdom of a crowd (at least that's how they do it in focus groups and political polling sessions).
Thanks to the 'Edit' button, in the end we'll all be able to have guessed right :)
The number of Cheerios is irrelevant because
There is no spoon.
Enough to almost fill my cereal bowl.
Li A
+James Tillar, the profit motive is having your name published as one of the ten closest guessers.
+Gideon Rosenblatt you win the Internets today!

You invented the perfect G+ trolling mechanism, making use of the two primary drivers of G+: Flattery ("wisdom of the crowd"...) + What'sHot - Power Law Effects run amuck... Kudos.

/cc +Alexander Becker +Max Huijgen
301. An alchemist running an experiment on Friday the 13th!
There are 1150 cheerio-brand-like pieces of cereal in that vase.

Also, the vase is ugly, and better used for housing flowers. Bright ones, from the temperate coastal zones.
1500. my hasty SWAG-ish version is something like (pi*(5^2)*19) ~= 1500, Of course, you could have a coke can hiding in the middle of it.....
Shaul E
1. there are about 20 Cheerios in each column.
2. there are about 100 columns.
3. the sum is 20 * 100 = 2000
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