2014 Results: The Crowd Beats Everybody!
In a remarkable "first" in the 10-year history of the Can You Beat the Crowd? Oscar prediction challenge, there were no winners last night as our obsession with Hollywood played out before 40 million TV viewers. The Crowd beat everybody.
Our online "hive mind," which included 159 players from 10 countries, correctly predicted 23 out of 24 awards on the night of triumph for "12 Years a Slave" and "Gravity."
The only award The Crowd missed was Animated Short Film, which went to "Mr. Hublot" instead of Crowd Favorite "Get a Horse!"
Our players, who ran the gamut from movie-loving college kids to movie-loving retirees, with a smattering of industry insiders, were as smart as ever -- 11 of you scored 22 out of 24. Exceptional, in any other contest!
Why was The Crowd so smart this year? After all, in previous outings over 10 years The Crowd has never done better than 19 correct.
Oscar pundits have noted that this year's results were more "predictable" than usual, given the run-up of well-publicized awards from SAG, BAFTA and Golden Globes. But if that's true, shouldn't one or more of our players have at least tied The Crowd?
Maybe better information was available this year? Sites like Entertainment Weekly, The Los Angeles Times and nytimes.com were more active than ever, along with a constellation of other web sites, blogs and Twitter pundits (Twitter crashed briefly during the Oscar telecast as Ellen DeGeneres' "selfie" with stars was retweeted over 1 million times).
Whatever the reason, this was a remarkable demonstration of "the wisdom of crowds" phenomenon that inspired this contest a decade ago. The idea was spawned from James Surowiecki's 2004 book, The Wisdom of Crowds: Why the Many Are Smarter than the Few and How Collective Wisdom Shapes Business, Economies, Societies, and Nations. "Large groups of people are smarter than an elite few, no matter how brilliant," Surowiecki observed.
So to everyone who was part of The Crowd, the Crowdmaster says: Awesome job! The many were truly smarter than the few. Maybe we should focus our crowd smarts on predicting more consequential events -- earthquakes, perhaps, or the mid-term elections?
--Pierre de Plume, recent crowd-beater