James Surowiecki argues that people, when we act en masse, are smarter than we think. He's the author of The Wisdom of Crowds and writes about finance for the New Yorker.

Why you should listen

James Surowiecki has been reporting on finance and human behavior since the days of the Motley Fool on AOL. He's had a ringside seat for some roller-coaster times in business, but always, his focus has been on regular people -- not titans of Wall Street, but you and me. In 2004, he published The Wisdom of Crowds, an exploration of the hive mind as it plays out in business and in other arenas of life.

Surowiecki is the finance writer for the New Yorker, and writes a lively and funny (and lately, indispensable) blog for newyorker.com, The Balance Sheet. His other books include the wonderfully titled but sadly quite relevant Best Business Crime Writing of 2003.

James Surowiecki’s TED talks

Quotes from James Surowiecki

If army ants are wandering around and they get lost, they start to follow a simple rule: Just do what the ant in front of you does. The ants eventually end up in a circle. There’s this famous example of one that was 1,200 feet long and lasted for two days; the ants just kept marching around and around in a circle until they died.
James Surowiecki
TED2005 • 305K views Nov 2008
Informative, Persuasive
The problem is that groups are only smart when the people in them are as independent as possible. This is the paradox of the wisdom of crowds.
James Surowiecki
TED2005 • 305K views Nov 2008
Informative, Persuasive