Thursday, October 14, 2004


The Wisdom of the "Stupid"

Jonah Goldberg always provides new insights into modern rituals and thinking, and this is a outstanding way to start the day:

I have discovered the solution to liberal media bias. What mainstream journalism needs are more stupid people.

Conservative critics of the journo-industrial complex might dismiss this advice as merely adding more jelly-beans to the jar. Liberal journalists would regard it as absurd, because surely it is their genius that makes them special. Why would the temple want any - much less, more - stupid priests?

Well, it turns out that having a few stupid people in the group makes the group smarter. I've long suspected this, but I found confirmation in James Surowiecki's new book, "The Wisdom of Crowds."

It works like this. Groups of experts tend to reinforce their own views, particularly because experts believe in the authority of experts, causing them to defer to the super-expert in the group. Stupid people are, to put it bluntly, too stupid to defer to smart people. Remember the story about the truck that got jammed in the tunnel because it was too tall? All the experts were stumped. But some kid yelled, "Let the air out of the tires," saving the day. This is essentially the moral of the fable of "The Emperor's New Clothes." Substitute kids with morons and you get the same thing.............


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