If you have several informed people’s estimates of something that is uncertain, then the average of those estimates – remembering to remove outliers – is likely to be closer to the truth than any one person’s estimate.
So in guessing the number of jelly beans in a jar, take the average of the preceding guesses and that result is likely closer than following just one estimate.
Other examples of situations where trusting the average is wiser than trusting a single expert:
- economic forecasters
- sporting pundits
- Who Wants to be a Millionaire (audience vote > phone a friend)
“… the intuition is that each estimate contains some signal and some noise.
By averaging, you cancel out some of the noise.
So an average should have a little less luck and a little more wisdom than any individual estimate.”
Source: Andrew Leigh (2015) The Luck of Politics