telophase: (Near - que?)
So the other day I was listening to a podcast that talked about "the wisdom of crowds." This is the title of a book that talks about collective decision making and how, in some particular circumstances (most often is situations where there is a precise, quantifiable answer to be had), a correct, or at least the closest to correct, answer can be got from averaging together all the answers. You can read about it and the bull-weight-guessing experiment in 1906 that produced this phenomenon at Wikipedia or here.

At my work's Hallowwen party, we had a guess-the-number game similar to the bull's weight guessing game mentioned in the above links. Over in the section of the room that was dedicated to dead druggie celebrities, there was a small display that featured the powdered innards of Pixy Stix cut into lines with paper razor blades, and a glass jar full of candy that looked like pills,* and the game was to guess the number of pills in the jar. I asked if I could have the guesses afterwards, to test out this theory, and they gave them to me. Sure enough, it turned out that the average of all the guesses was fairly close to the actual number in the jar. And throwing out the two outliers - someone guessed 1000 and someone guessed 83 - the average was closer to the actual number than the closest individual guess.

* Er, the Social Committee is nicely twisted. :D

Now, we only had 13 guesses and I suspect that it would have gotten much closer to the real number if we'd had more, but it was still quite interesting. And I want to try it again, with more guesses. So I'm doing something similar here. Of course, I have no idea if a picture of the container will be the same as looking at it, but them's the breaks. :)

There's no prize, sorry to say. You'll have to do this entirely for the good of science.

So ... Guess the number of popcorn kernels in the Sanzo shot glass!

Poll and pictures under here )

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