Books: Triumph of the Masses

Forget about the road less taken. Running with the pack could be the smartest way to get ahead

At the annual west of England Fat Stock and Poultry Exhibition in the fall of 1906, a British scientist named Francis Galton became interested in a weight-judging competition: 800 fairgoers (a diverse group that included butchers, farmers, clerks, housewives, townspeople, smart people, dumb people, average people) tried to guess what a particular ox would weigh after having been slaughtered and dressed. The correct answer was exactly 1,198 lbs. After the judges awarded their prize, Galton borrowed all the entry tickets, did some arithmetic to get the mean of the fairgoers' guesses and found that their collective estimate was ... 1,197 lbs....

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