Is The Wisdom Of A Crowd Reliable?
My daughter and I arose early one morning and set off on our adventure to take the Go Train from Oshawa to Union Station. Our ultimate destination was Ripley’s Aquarium, right beside the CN Tower in Toronto.
My GPS made it easy for us to drive to the Oshawa station. We parked and walked towards the building where the attendant explained how the ticket system worked and directed us to the right train. Once on the train, we found our seats on the upper level and relaxed for the hour-long ride.
Excitement mounted when the conductor announced the stop for Union Station. We disembarked with the crowds and fell in step with the group. We assumed that the crowd would get it right and lead us where we needed to go.
When we arrived in the station concourse, the line of passengers spread in all directions. From there, we needed to only follow the signs to find our way to the Aquarium.
We spent a wonderful morning exploring the variety of life at the Aquarium. Then we decided to visit Toronto Island. We didn’t know where to go so we asked a taxi driver and he told us it was a 10-minute walk south. Again, we followed the crowds to help us navigate the streets of Toronto and find our way to the Ferry.
On our return trip, we were joined by throngs of workers leaving office buildings to commute home. We assumed these business people were returning to the Go Station to take the train home from work. It seemed that they all travelled at the same time of day and had repeated this same journey day in and day out.
The mass crowd stopped at a red light as traffic picked up on the roads. But then the group started to march forward when there was a break in traffic. One person thought it okay to go ahead and everyone else just followed without giving any consideration to the fact that they were taking a dangerous chance against rush-hour vehicles.
My daughter and I stopped. Everyone behind us stopped. We waited for the green light before proceeding. We thought it interesting to note that although the groups of people had helped us earlier, it was important for us to not follow mindlessly.
The Bible suggests that we seek the counsel of others and be open to their advice. However, it also makes it clear that the wisdom of crowds may not be reliable and can be dangerous.
In the book The Way to Power and Poise E. Stanley Jones warns us against the group influence. He writes, “If we are herd-centered people, then we are insecure, for the herd is fickle and may quickly change.” We must be courageous and practice discernment in all our decisions and not just follow the group’s influence.