Back in the delusional early 2000s, it was popular to bleat out the notion that the “wisdom of crowds” enabled humans to do great things in groups. This allows the individual to take credit for the achievements of the group and seems to enforce the idea of equality, which means it does not matter what unique traits individuals have, only that you put interchangeable average humans in the right order.
Recent research suggests that the “wisdom of crowds” is nonsense, and that higher-IQ individuals produce any greatness in a group:
Contrary to prediction, individual IQ accounted for around 80% of group-IQ differences. Hypotheses that group-IQ increases with number of women in the group and with turn-taking were not supported…The experiments instead showed that higher individual IQ enhances group performance such that individual IQ determined 100% of latent group-IQ. Implications for future work on group-based achievement are examined.
From the study itself:
For some time, it has been known that work-groups whose team-members have higher IQ out-perform teams of less-able members (Devine & Philips, 2001). Against this background,Â Woolley et al. (2010)Â asked whether groups themselves exhibit a general-factor of intelligence, if this might be distinct from individual IQ, and, if so, what the origins of such a collective intelligence might be.
…The three studies reported here and, especially, the joint modeling cast important light on the origins of high cognitive performance in groups. Rather than a small link of individual IQ to group-IQ, we found that the overlap of these two traits was indistinguishable from 100%. Smart groups are (simply) groups of smart people.
…The finding that IQ and group-IQ can be set equal bolsters studies reported in work-performance showing that groups of bright individuals outperform groups of less able individuals (Devine & Philips, 2001). We take this work to a new level, suggesting that, in terms of latent group-IQ, group performance reflects nothing beyond individual contributions to average IQ. Thus we found no support for the hypothesis that â€œgroup intelligence [has] relatively little to do with individual intelligenceâ€ (Woolley & Malone, 2011, p. 2).
In other words, if a crowd has wisdom, it is because of the intelligent people in that crowd. Remove those, and you have just organized idiocy, which is probably a good description for your average job.
The problem with crowds is that contrary to conventional wisdom, they are staffed by individualists. The individualist joins a crowd for the ability to be important without having to contribute or adapt, because the crowd is run entirely on social principles which are intuitive to the individualist.
This then creates a tragedy of the commons for social attention, which is a problem when one is seeking answers, because it means that the most digestible and distinctive expressions win out over the more accurate. A tragedy of the commons takes the following form:
The tragedy of the commons develops in this way. Picture a pasture open to all. It is to be expected that each herdsman will try to keep as many cattle as possible on the commons. Such an arrangement may work reasonably satisfactorily for centuries because tribal wars, poaching, and disease keep the numbers of both man and beast well below the carrying capacity of the land. Finally, however, comes the day of reckoning, that is, the day when the long-desired goal of social stability becomes a reality. At this point, the inherent logic of the commons remorselessly generates tragedy.
As a rational being, each herdsman seeks to maximize his gain. Explicitly or implicitly, more or less consciously, he asks, “What is the utility to me of adding one more animal to my herd?” This utility has one negative and one positive component.
1) The positive component is a function of the increment of one animal. Since the herdsman receives all the proceeds from the sale of the additional animal, the positive utility is nearly +1.
2) The negative component is a function of the additional overgrazing created by one more animal. Since, however, the effects of overgrazing are shared by all the herdsmen, the negative utility for any particular decision-making herdsman is only a fraction of -1.
Adding together the component partial utilities, the rational herdsman concludes that the only sensible course for him to pursue is to add another animal to his herd. And another; and another…. But this is the conclusion reached by each and every rational herdsman sharing a commons. Therein is the tragedy. Each man is locked into a system that compels him to increase his herd without limit–in a world that is limited. Ruin is the destination toward which all men rush, each pursuing his own best interest in a society that believes in the freedom of the commons. Freedom in a commons brings ruin to all.
Human attention in a social group is a commons. Whoever is willing to inject themselves into the dialogue, or perform a distracting behavior or stunt, is able to take some of the attention. This creates a force entirely opposite to the perception of reality, which is a force based in the recognition of human interest.
In contrast, what made the West great was its emphasis on results in reality that enabled it to create a hierarchy based on those who demonstrated exceptional ability to not just lead, but lead us toward the best results instead of simply bare minimums. For this reason, despite not having the highest average IQ, the West produced the greatest amount of genius, and those geniuses enabled the West to have exceptional competence. Leftists demand that we assume that this competence came from the form of the crowd itself, and not the composition of that crowd, including the exceptional individuals who did all the thinking for it. Hierarchy protected genius from this incursion of the crowd by ensuring that all key positions were held by people who could tell the difference between genius and idiocy, and therefore could elevate genius above the usual babble of the herd, where now the babble holds sway over anything intelligent.
The “wisdom of crowds” is merely a restatement of democracy. The idea there is that politics becomes a commons, and whoever distracts the greatest number of people from real problems, wins. Unfortunately, as the evidence from this above study shows, this marginalizes intelligence and guarantees an incompetent result.