A fascinating insight occured to me ebrown's thread, "There is no wisdom in crowds
": Although ebrown_p may not believe in the wisdom of crowds, he himself is one of its most impressive products! After all, his very existence derives from a crowd of near-identical stem cells, each equipped with with identical genomes.
How did these stem cells get from there to the extreme differentiation we see between brain cells, blood cells, and muscle cells? How did this ultra-diverse society of cells work together to form the organism that is ebrown p?
It was through the wisdom of crowds: In the process of growing and multiplying, each individual stem cell in that original crowd emitted chemicals that influenced the environment of other cells. Conversely, their rates of growth and divisions depended in part on the chemical environment they found themselves in. Thus, a complicated feedback process emerged in which cell forms shaped chemical environments and chemical environments shaped cell forms. Ebrown_p is the end result of that process -- and so is every single member on this forum. Notice that ebrown, however much we may disagree with his opinions, is much wiser than any of his cells. Also notice that we don't see any one intelligent agent in the process through which he came into being.
Morphogenesis is one wisdom-of-crowds effect to which ebrown p owes his existence. But underlying this effect is another: Remember when I said that each of the original stem cells are equipped with the same genome? Well, ebrown p's genome emerged from a wisdom-of-crowds effect, too. It's called Ne0-Darwinian evolution.
The information evolution acts on is stored in genes (which Darwin himself didn't know about, hence the prefix "neo"). Each gene survives and adapts according to its environment -- or not. This environment consists in large part of other genes -- in the case of ebrown p's genes, for example, they even share the same body. The mutual adaptation of genes, which again happens without any conscious agency directing it, is the second important wisdom-of-crowds effect to which ebrown_p owes his existence.
I don't begrudge ebrown_p his doubts about the wisdom-of-crowds concept. But one fact is undisputable: Without a wise crowd of wisdom-of-crowd effects, he wouldn't exist to doubt them.