Customer Reviews for

The Wisdom of Crowds: Why the Many Are Smarter Than the Few and How Collective Wisdom Shapes Business, Economies, Societies and Nations

Average Rating 3.5
( 33 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(11)

4 Star

(10)

3 Star

(3)

2 Star

(2)

1 Star

(7)

Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Noble.com Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & Noble.com that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & Noble.com does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at BN.com or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation

Reminder:

  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & Noble.com and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Noble.com Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & Noble.com reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & Noble.com also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on BN.com. It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

 
Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously

Most Helpful Favorable Review

4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

Well-written explanation of why crowds are smart

This well-written bestseller explores the apparent anomaly that crowds of nonexperts seem to be collectively smarter than individual experts or even small groups of experts. This basic insight is at the heart of contemporary financial investment theory, with its emphasi...
This well-written bestseller explores the apparent anomaly that crowds of nonexperts seem to be collectively smarter than individual experts or even small groups of experts. This basic insight is at the heart of contemporary financial investment theory, with its emphasis on the difficulty of outguessing the market. Beginning with British scientist Francis Galton's remarkable discovery in 1906 that a crowd of nonexperts proved surprisingly competent at guessing the weight of an ox, financial columnist and author James Surowiecki skillfully recounts experiments, discoveries and anecdotes that demonstrate productive group thinking. The concept does not come as news to anyone reasonably well read in modern financial literature, but we recommend this comprehensive, fresh presentation.

posted by Anonymous on June 19, 2006

Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review

Most Helpful Critical Review

4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

A huge disappointment

I had high expectations for this book because James Surowiecki's New Yorker column is usually so good. But THE WISDOM OF CROWDS is one of the most disappointing books I've read in years. (Indeed, I feel somewhat ripped off by having purchased it and devoted se...
I had high expectations for this book because James Surowiecki's New Yorker column is usually so good. But THE WISDOM OF CROWDS is one of the most disappointing books I've read in years. (Indeed, I feel somewhat ripped off by having purchased it and devoted several hours to reading it.) The main problem with this book is that despite Surowiecki's often breathless tone, nothing he says is new. Every point he makes has been made many times before by many other writers. For instance, the key theme of his book is that groups can solve certain 'cognition problems' better than individuals. No kidding. Ever hear the phrase 'Two heads are better than one?' The thesis is so self-evident and widely-known that it comes with its own cliché! Yet Surowiecki devotes more than one-third of the book essentially to arguing that two people can solve a crossword puzzle faster than one person. Amazing, no? What's more, Surowiecki's central point about the power of 'collective intelligence' has long been a staple of business education. If you've ever taken an organizational behavior class, you've done the exercise where groups of varying sizes are stuck on a desert island with a dozen supplies -- and then each group must devise a solution for escaping the island using those supplies. Inevitably, the larger the group, the better the solution -- because larger groups reflect the accumulated experience and expertise of more people. (In other words, five heads are even better than two.) Want another example of how threadbare this idea is? Google the phrase 'none of us is as smart as all of us' - and you'll discover that Surowiecki's supposedly 'counterintuitive' notion has been talked about in business circles since Bill Gates was in short pants. If that weren't bad enough, the rest of the book -- particularly Suriowiecki's discussion of 'coordination,' his second 'stunning' insight--- is essentially a retread of arguments that have been made elsewhere for more than a decade. James Gleick made many of these points in CHAOS. Kevin Kelly said everything that Surowiecki says ten years ago in OUT OF CONTROL. Steven Johnson said it again four years ago in EMERGENCE. Howard Rheingold said lots of it last year in SMART MOBS. And Surowiecki's third argument -- that sometimes cooperation is preferable to competition -- is even older. Charles Darwin told us this in the 19th century! Indeed, there's an entire branch of evolutionary psychology devoted to studying cooperation. Just read Robert Wright's THE MORAL ANIMAL if you want a more thorough and engaging account of this point. If this book were an undergraduate term paper that summarized the self-evident and reviewed what others had already had said, I'd give it a B. But for book that costs 20 bucks from a writer who's obviously got some talent, I'd have to give THE WISDOM OF CROWDS an Incomplete. Please try again, James. But next time, try a lot harder.

posted by Anonymous on May 26, 2004

Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
Sort by: Showing all of 11 review with 5 star rating   See All Ratings
Page 1 of 1
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 19, 2006

    Well-written explanation of why crowds are smart

    This well-written bestseller explores the apparent anomaly that crowds of nonexperts seem to be collectively smarter than individual experts or even small groups of experts. This basic insight is at the heart of contemporary financial investment theory, with its emphasis on the difficulty of outguessing the market. Beginning with British scientist Francis Galton's remarkable discovery in 1906 that a crowd of nonexperts proved surprisingly competent at guessing the weight of an ox, financial columnist and author James Surowiecki skillfully recounts experiments, discoveries and anecdotes that demonstrate productive group thinking. The concept does not come as news to anyone reasonably well read in modern financial literature, but we recommend this comprehensive, fresh presentation.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 29, 2004

    Essential

    This is one of the most entertaining and intellectually engaging books I've come across in a long while. Surowiecki has a gift for making complex ideas accessible, and he has a wonderful eye for the telling anecdote. His thesis about the intelligence of groups made up of diverse, independent decision-makers seems initially counterintuitive, but by the end of the book it seems almost obvious, because of all the evidence Surowiecki piles up on its behalf. The book does cover a lot of ground in not very much space, and the pace of the argument is at times too fast. But the throughline of the argument is almost always clear, and the stories Surowiecki tells are often memorable. The chapter on NASA's mismanagement of the Columbia mission and the tale of how a man named John Craven relied on collective wisdom to find a lost submarine are especially striking. This is one of those books that I expect people will still be talking about and referring to years or even decades from now. It's also a book that I hope will have a concrete impact on the way that people make decisions, since the implications of Surowiecki's argument are radical in the best way. All in all, a terrific read.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 20, 2008

    Ought to be Required Reading

    Absolutely fascinating. It transformed my thoughts about democracy, organizational governance, investing, management styles and executive salaries -- among other things.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 18, 2006

    When are the Many Smarter Than the Few and When Aren't They?

    A marvelous book!! It tells us that the crowd is much smarter than many of us think. But it also tells us under what conditions the crowd is not so smart. Its delight is in the counter-intuitiveness of its conclusions. The 'experts' will be bored, thinking it is old stuff, but the author shows us that the crowd is often smarter than they are. The book is worth reading more than once.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 13, 2004

    Excellent

    I'm a big fan of James Surowiecki's 'Financial Page' column in The New Yorker. He's consistently able to come up with unusual takes on seemingly familiar topics, and he has a great knack for making business stories compelling and entertaining as well as understandable. But because it's only a page long, I sometimes come away from the column wanting more, and I always wondered how Surowiecki would do if he was able to develop his ideas and arguments more fully. Luckily, 'The Wisdom of Crowds' lives up to all my expectations. It's wonderfully readable, full of terrific stories, funny, and its basic argument -- that groups, under certain conditions, can make better decisions than even the smartest individuals -- is counterintuitive without being willfully contrarian. The roots of the argument obviously stem from the way markets work -- buyers and sellers find each other and reach efficient outcomes without anyone being in charge, while the stock market (at least some of the time) does as good a job as possible of setting prices. But what I really like is the way Surowiecki extends this argument way beyond business and markets, showing how collective wisdom can be seen (and can potentially be used) in a host of other situations, including the racetrack, on the Internet, and on city streets. He also does a good job of drawing out the possible implications of this for everything from the U.S. intelligence community to the way companies are run. This is definitely a big-idea book, but the author is cautious in laying out his evidence, and is careful to show that groups, even if they're potentially wise, are often stupid and dangerous. The chapter on small groups in particular, which focuses on NASA's mismanagement of the Columbia mission, is powerful stuff, and useful to anyone interested in how to run a meeting well (or badly, for that matter). The least satisfying part of the book is the chapter on democracy, where Surowiecki shies away from pushing his conclusion to its logical end. But on the whole, this is just a wonderful book, elegant and enlightening. If you're interested in this book, it's also worth checking out Paul Seabright's 'The Company of Strangers' and Robert Wright's 'Nonzero.'

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 29, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted October 4, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted March 19, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted June 4, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted June 26, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted April 6, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

Sort by: Showing all of 11 review with 5 star rating   See All Ratings
Page 1 of 1