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A Google+ Experiment in Collective Intelligence
(Post #5 - since the first four posts exceeded comment limits)

NOTE: I'm closing down this version of the experiment to fix some problems with the below image. To participate in the experiment, 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. ;-)
Dorjan Smoković's profile photoSteve Keanie's profile photoMartha Frey's profile photoGideon Rosenblatt's profile photo
Let N be the number of cheerios. Let v be the number of vases. Let v be 1. Let h be the number of holes in the N cheerios. Let h equal N - d where d is the the number of defective pieces of cereal without holes. Let L be love. Let the approximate diameter of V, where v is the first vase, be six pieces of cereal, so that the total number t of pieces of cereal c on the top of the pile of cereal in the first vase, numbered zero, shall clearly be of the order of 3² π, and by virtue of the World of the Lord as Misinterpreted on Earth π = 3, so there would be 27 pieces of cereal on top, were it not for the fact they have holes between the pieces and do not all lie flat.

Guess there are 20 layers, giving 540 pieces. But the bottom B of the zeroth and only vase V is narrower than the top, and the shape irregular.

Let n be the number I first thought of. Let n be 327.

There are 327 pieces of cereal.

Eat one. Replace it.

There are still 327 pieces of cereal.
+Gideon Rosenblatt I'm sorry but your problem setup is an exercise in how to set up a problem to make it invalid as a test of "collective intelligence" and is rather away to spread the post/only do something about the "collection" of something.

By definition all you are doing is increasing the number of guesses to increase the probability that at least one with by chance be correct. Its the same principle whereby the probability of someone of the participants selecting the winning lottery number out of the set of possible numbers, grows higher with the number of ticket numbers selected and purchased.

That's not anything about collective intelligence, its just simple statistics 101/frequency (or perhaps marketing).

I.e., this has zero to do with testing collective intelligence.
I think it makes sense to approximate it as a cylinder, with the ideal diameter close to diameter halfway up the height of the vase. The weird ripples kind of cancel out, in terms of peaks and troughs. The vase on the left appears to be about 5 cheerio spans in diameter (by looking at the one cheerio that is face on). Based on that and a picture I drew, you could probably pack ~20 cheerios per layer, if a layer is 1 cheerio high (on the short side). There`s maybe ~25 such layers in total.

So i'd estimate about 500 cheerios
You just dropped an entire Cheerios pack in the vase x)
Oh my, will it finish soon? There's already a piece of statistical base with 5 x 500 posts, we want the prize now :-)
347...cherios.....ur experimnts has flaws......not factoring second gessing or probability of roll play...thoery of inteligenc and mission objectve co-op in mass population

I'm a bad speller...I know this but to be heard dose not mean one needs the ability of speech
575 (I've won a few of these guessing games in the past. Much harder when I can't hold the container in my hands.)
Very very pretty!!! are those glasses?
300 (approx 14 layers high, 7 Cheerios across at the top, so 14 x 7 x 3 (pi) = 294 so make it 300 and forget about the taper)
At least 256 and probably less than 768, so I'm guessing it's 512.
314.1592653589793238462643383279502884197169399371058209749445923078164062862089986280348253421170679 …
In an infinite universe all of these answers are true...
As an aside --- If Cheerios don't give you free cereal for life Mr +Gideon Rosenblatt for all this game-based marketing then theres no justice ;)
Can you post a statistical chart of all the answers once you're done.
450 - if those are 2 photos of the same jar, which is hard to tell. I assume we're not here to critique your photography skills. I tend to agree with all of the previous comments about the very shaky scientific premise of your "experiment", but it's a fun exercise.