The Wisdom of Crowds

Wisdom Calling


Proverbs 1:20, 21:

Wisdom cries aloud in the open air,
she raises her voice in public places;
she calls at the top of the busy street and proclaims at the open gates of the city…

Proverbs 8:1-3:

Hear how Wisdom lifts her voice
and Understanding cries out.
She stands at the cross-roads,
by the wayside, at the top of the hill;
beside the gate, at the entrance to the city,
at the entry by the open gate she calls aloud…


The truth of God (truth about who God is and truth about the human condition)
does not contradict itself no matter where it comes from.


Theological underpinnings:

-God is always at work in us
-“Truth” is always, ultimately, from God
-Spiritual truth can be told in unspiritual language
-Daily life and the arts and sciences often illustrate God’s truth
-We need to “test the spirits”: check what we’re hearing in the “busy street” and “open gates” against Scripture
and in the community of believers

Questions:

-What is the modern equivalent to the top of the busy street, the open gates, the wayside, the top of the hill, etc.?
Where might Wisdom be calling to us?
What do movies like “Crash”, “Babette’s Feast” or “Keeping the Faith” tell us about who God is or the human condition?


The Wisdom of Crowds by James Surowiecki uses the same sort of logic as Wisdom Calling’s approach.


The Wisdom of Crowds: Why the Many Are Smarter Than the Few and How Collective Wisdom Shapes Business, Economies, Societies and Nations, first published in 2004, is a book written by James Surowiecki about the aggregation of information in groups, resulting in decisions that, he argues, are often better than could have been made by any single member of the group. The book presents numerous case studies and anecdotes to illustrate its argument, and touches on several fields, primarily economics and psychology.


The opening anecdote relates Francis Galton’s surprise that the crowd at a county fair accurately guessed the weight of an ox when their individual guesses were averaged (the average was closer to the ox’s true weight than the estimates of most crowd members, and also closer than any of the separate estimates made by cattle experts). See Wikipedia’s excellent article at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Wisdom_of_Crowds


And from the author’s website http://www.randomhouse.com/features/wisdomofcrowds/Q&A.html


A question: “Under what circumstances is the crowd smarter?”


There are four key qualities that make a crowd smart.
-It needs to be diverse, so that people are bringing different pieces of information to the table.
-It needs to be decentralized, so that no one at the top is dictating the crowd’s answer.
-It needs a way of summarizing people’s opinions into one collective verdict.
-And the people in the crowd need to be independent, so that they pay attention mostly to their own information, and not worrying about what everyone around them thinks.


Perhaps by listening to Wisdom calling to us from the world, we may hear what God is trying to tell us from more than one context and understand it better…




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