I was flipping through channels and hit on a rerun of Who Wants to be a Millionaire. I don’t watch the show because the slow pacing and fake suspense drives me insane, but since I had lucked into landing on the channel at the exact moment that the question had been asked and the four choices were already up on the screen, I watched. The question was (I may be paraphrasing): In early 2000 a mall opened in the UAE that had this unusual feature.
Now I digress and point you to this article, about how the wisdom of crowds usually beats the pants of the wisdom of the individual. In Who Wants to be a Millionaire, the crowd picks the right answer 90 percent of the time.
If, years hence, people remember anything about the TV game show “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?,” they will probably remember the contestants’ panicked phone calls to friends and relatives[… ]What people probably won’t remember is that every week “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?” pitted group intelligence against individual intelligence, and that every week, group intelligence won.
Those random crowds of people with nothing better to do on a weekday afternoon than sit in a TV studio picked the right answer 91 percent of the time.
Back to today’s rerun of WWtbaM. The four possible answers to the above question were:
a- No men
b- No women
c- No children
d- No lights
You already know, don’t you?
The contestant had no idea. So he asked the audience. I don’t watch the show a lot, but ordinarily when they ask the audience there’s one clear winner, but sometimes there are two answers that are pretty close. But in this case all four answers got a fair number of votes. I don’t remember the percentages, but b- no women got more answers than the other three options.
The contestant, who seemed to be familiar with the concept that the audience is usually right, went with the audiences choice.
D’oh! No, the answer was a- no men.