Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Is the beginning.....

Hi. We (my mom, my sister, and I) are a homeschooling family from somewhere in Canada, and this is a blog to catalogue our process in our research project about the wisdom of the masses, or crowds. So now I will give a short overview of the project:

Okay, so this guy, Sir Francis Galton, who was a nobleman in the early 1900's, thought that the masses were to dumb to vote. Meaning that the average person couldn't vote in a democracy, and that only noblemen like him were intelligent enough to choose a prime minister, or whatever it was they had at that time in the United Kingdom. Think about it, only politicians all voting for themselves? Utter chaos!

To prove this theory, in 1906 Sir Francis took a cow out into the town square and said that whom ever could guess the exact weight of the cow would win something. Sound like a familiar fair game involving jelly beans, jars and numbers? I thought so. Anyway, 800 people voted on the cow's weight, and of course no one got it exactly right, not even the experts, and based on that Sir Francis figured his theory was correct. But then he averaged all the guesses out, and to his great surprise, the masses were almost exactly right! The cow weighed 1,198 pounds, and the average of all the guesses that day was 1,197 pounds. I know, right? So, the conclusion Sir Francis came to was that collectively, the masses were intelligent enough to vote. Also, if more people had voted that day, the combined answer would have been closer to the correct weight of the cow. So, we're doing a project on this.

I saw this story on Nova, and it interested me, so I suggested The Project! Dun dun duuuuun! What we're doing is taking a jar of jelly beans around wherever we go, and asking people to guess how many jelly beans are in the jar. After that, we're going to average out all the guesses, and see how close we get to the actual number of jelly beans. We're also going to see if there is a difference between male and female votes, and the different age groups. We'll post all our findings and research here, so if you're interested you can come back here to check on The Project. That's it; I have to return library books now. Bye!


We will be doing a brief study on Sir Francis Galton, his experiment, democracy and how the Canadian Government works. We will keep this blog up to date on what we learn and where we found our information. This is just the beginning. We would appreciate any suggestions you may have to help us on our journey.

-Kellie, the mom

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