The Wisdom of Crowds: A Plataean & Spartan Perspective


“THE Plataeans were besieged: walled in by their enemies, the Spartans. They could make ladders to climb out, but how tall should they be?

Citizens were asked to guess the wall’s height by counting its bricks, with the most popular estimate taken as correct.

It worked: 212 duly escaped.

This episode from 428 BC is the first known use of the wisdom of crowds – collating estimates to
arrive at an answer more accurate than any individual can manage.

That lies at the heart of a variety of tools used to run our society, from opinion polls to financial markets.” (New Scientist, 2017, p.5).

Reference

New Scientist (2017) Care to make it interesting? The stakes are rising for scientific wagers. New Scientist. 13 May 2017.

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