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:

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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.

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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:
http://www.amazon.com/The-Wisdom-Crowds-James-Surowiecki/dp/0385721706

And here's the Wikipedia article on "Wisdom of Crowds":
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_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. ;-)﻿
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