It’s a crazy world, right? Where things happen without rhyme nor reason.
Or is it.
This week I watched a documentary on TV called The Code. It’s a science programme. Science really isn’t my thing. But this episode was about order in the universe, a concept that has always fascinated me. Specifically, the show explored the theory that there is a series of patterns and values underpinning everything around us.
I am not religious, as such. I don’t believe there is a single divine entity overseeing everything. I don’t believe in fate or destiny, the romantic notion that everything happens for a reason, but I do believe in something.
I just don’t know what.
I do know there is some kind of order in the chaos. You just have to look for it. If you look hard enough, the signs are there.
And so, to the Code…
One experiment outlined in the documentary was designed to show what they called the ‘wisdom of the crowd.’
Researchers asked 160 people to guess how many jelly beans were in a glass jar. We all know how difficult a task this is.
Obviously the estimates varied wildly, from as low as 400 to as much as 50,000. The actual number of jelly beans contained in the jar was 5,110, which nobody correctly guessed. Nobody was even close.
The researchers added up all the incorrect guesses they received, all those 400’s and 50,000’s. Then they divided the total by the amount of people participating. So… total number of every estimate combined, divided by 160.
Using this method they arrived at a mean average answer of 5,115. That is less than 1% away from the actual number of 5,110.
Crazy or what?
NB: I didn’t record the documentary or take notes, I wrote this from memory the next day, so forgive me if there are inaccuracies. I’m pretty sure I have most of the main facts, though!