Aristotle and Sunstein on collective intelligence
all come together… they may surpass – collectively and as a body, although not individually – the quality of the few best… When there are many who contribute to the process of deliberation, each can bring his share of goodness and moral prudence… some appreciate one part, some another, and all together appreciate all.
Sunstein goes on to discuss the many ways in which Aristotle got it wrong (and right), detailing in particular many ways in which deliberation can make group functioning worse. The short summary is that deliberation often produces more confidence, a greater sense of legitimacy, and more homogeneous thinking, but doesn’t get it right as often as processes like voting without discussion. The most striking exception is for very well posed problems (“What is the population of Singapore”), where deliberation can help (“I took a course on Singapore in College, and the population is…”).
This is thought-provoking for anyone interested in collective intelligence online, and suggests the great value of providing independent objective measures of quality.