Tag Archives: Herzog

Harnessing the Inner Crowd

innercrowdUntitledThis post is based on the paper: “Harnessing the Wisdom of the Inner Crowd,” written by Stefan M. Herzog and Ralph Hertwig that appeared in Trends in Cognitive Sciences, October 2014, Vol. 18, No. 10. This is a slightly different take on a subject addressed in the posts:  Dialectical Bootstrapping  and   Bootstrapping.    Herzog and Hertwig seem to be the go to guys on bootstrapping.  In the title they obviously refer to James Surowiecki’s The Wisdom of Crowds. (see post Smart Mobs and Diverse Problem Solvers). They explain that a lone individual can enlist the wisdom of crowds by averaging self-generated, nonredundant estimates. They review evi-
dence for this ‘wisdom of the inner crowd’, and consider how it can be produced, how its accuracy can be improved, and whether people use it to their advantage. Frankly, Figure 1, above puts the advice in one spot.

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Dialectical Bootstrapping

bootstrapsI mentioned this in my last post and could not resist it. It is based on a 2009 paper by Herzog & Hertwig,  “The Wisdom of Many in One Mind Improving Individual Judgments With Dialectical Bootstrapping.”  How can a set of individually mediocre estimates become superior when averaged? The secret is a statistical fact that, although well known in measurement theory, has implications that are often not intuitively evident . A subjective quantitative estimate can be expressed as an additive function of three components: the truth (the true value of the estimated quantity), random error (random fluctuations in the judge’s  performance), and systematic error (i.e., the judge’s systematic tendency to over- or underestimate the true value). Averaging estimates increases accuracy in two ways: It cancels out random error, and it can reduce systematic error. This reminds me of Scott Page’s diversity prediction theorem which simply states that the crowd’s error = avg error- diversity. I expect to look at systematic error and diversity in future posts, but for now how can we conduct a dialogue with ourselves and improve our predictions?

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