-- There used to be an idle speculation that an infinite number of monkeys sitting in front of an infinite number of typewriters would eventually compose the works of Shakespeare. Now, it appears, there is an attempt to codify what used to be a pleasantly idiotic beer-drinking discussion:
Statistics have long shown that large crowds of average people frequently make better predictions about unknown events, when their disparate guesses are averaged out, than any individual scholar - a phenomenon known as the wisdom of crowds.
Now the nation's intelligence community, with the help of university researchers and regular folks around the country, is studying ways to harness and improve the wisdom of crowds. The research could one day arm policymakers with information gathered by some of the same methods that power Wikipedia and social media.
Oh goody -- a world based on the Wikipedia model. Anybody's guess can be elevated to the level of level-headed thinking, if not wisdom. Frankly, I'd rather stick with the ignorant but diligent scholar ... s/he may be wrong, but at least, with luck, s/he has done a little thinking.
The whole effort puts me in mind of the somewhat uncharitable, if apt, observation by LaRochefoucauld that "The intelligence of the throng is inversely proportionate to its number."
Let loose the monkeys!
-- Seven monks have recently done the same, but now a Tibetan Buddhist nun in China has set herself on fire as a means of making a political and religious statement. The horror and desperation and perhaps insanity of the action remains undimmed in my mind by the increasing number of such protests. A 20-year-old woman did this. The commentary on such an action is up to the individuals who choose to comment. Self-immolation by a 20-year-old cuts out my tongue.