Meta-Induction and the Wisdom of Crowds

Paul D. Thorn and Gerhard Schurz

Abstract

Meta-induction, in its various forms, is an imitative prediction method, where the prediction methods and the predictions of other agents are imitated to the extent that those methods or agents have proven successful in the past. In past work, Schurz demonstrated the optimality of meta-induction as a method for predicting unknown events and quantities. However, much recent discussion, along with formal and empirical work, on the Wisdom of Crowds has extolled the virtue of diverse and independent judgment as essential to maintenance of 'wise crowds'. This suggests that meta-inductive prediction methods could undermine the wisdom of the crowd inasmuch these methods recommend that agents imitate the predictions of other agents. In this article, we evaluate meta-inductive methods with a focus on the impact on a group's performance that may result from including meta-inductivists among its members. In addition to considering cases of global accessibility (i.e., cases where the judgments of all members of the group are available to all of the group's members), we consider cases where agents only have access to the judgments of other agents within their own local neighborhoods.

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The Journal is devoted to the fundamental issues of empirical and normative social theory, and is directed at social scientists and social philosophers who combine commitment to political and moral enlightenment with argumentative rigour and conceptual clarity. Published articles develop social theorizing in connection with analytical philosophy and philosophy of science.

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