Friday, April 08, 2005

The Wisdom of Crowds?

James Surowiecki has written an excellent book called, The Wisdom of Crowds: Why the Many Are Smarter Than the Few and How Collective Wisdom Shapes Business, Economies, Societies and Nations. It's a good read and I agree with most of Surowiecki's arguments that groups of diverse, informed people are better decision makers and predictors of future outcomes than individual "experts." However, there is always an exception to every rule.

And this exception is the voters in our poll to pick the next NCAA college hockey champion. 33% of those who voted picked Minnesota. The Gophers fell to North Dakota 4-2 last night. 27% went with Colorado College, which lost to Denver 6-2 yesterday. 16% took the Denver Pioneers and 13% the North Dakota Fighting Sioux, who will face off on Saturday in the title game.

Only three out of ten still have a chance to be right. Not exactly confidence inspiring numbers.

Then there are the Badger fans. This poll started over two weeks ago, the day before the NCAA Regionals began. At that time Wisconsin was still alive. One day later they lost to Michigan and were eliminated from post-season play. And yet, the votes for Wisconsin continued to roll in, as recently as yesterday. Cheeseheads.

For the record, I picked Colorado College and North Dakota to meet in the championship game. I probably underestimated just how good Denver is, but I don't think too many people, even die hard Sioux fans, thought that UND would be playing for all the marbles on Saturday night. It should be a great game, with both teams playing their best hockey of the year. My heart says North Dakota, but my head says that the Pioneers will repeat in a close one. Let's go with 3-2 Denver, very possibly in OT.

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