This evening I did a simple Wisdom of the Crowds experiment. At after work drinks in the zoology department Stockholm, I asked the researchers the following question “In the Sweden vs USA World Cup match tonight, how many corners will there be in total?” I asked everybody to write down their guesses, without talking to each other, and hand them in to me. I offered a bottle of wine to the best guess.
One person in the group didn’t know what a corner was. So this certainly isn’t a group of football experts. So can they, as a crowd, predict the number of corners in a football match?
Below is a histogram of their guesses.
They are wide-ranging. From zero up to 34. One person guessed 1.5! But what is interesting, if we are to trust the Stockholm crowd, is the mean and the median. The average guess was 11.26, the median was 9. If we believe that the crowd is wise, even if it knows very little about football, then this is the number we should trust.
I’m not sure I would bet on it. But Alberto Corral-Lopez has just placed five euros on a 9-11 spread on 2.75 odds. He believes in the Wisdom of the Crowds. Let's see what happens tonight.