Wisdom Of The Crowd

Mar 31, 2017
Originally published on April 11, 2017 2:27 pm

How many pizza slices does the average American eat in a year? Guest musician Julian Velard must decide whose numeric estimations he trusts more, a recent live audience polled at The Bell House OR puzzle guru Cecil Baldwin.

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Now it's time for Cecil and Julian to play a game. This is the Wisdom Of The Crowd. It's based on a classic experiment you may have done in school. The teacher holds up a jar of jelly beans and the students have to guess how many are in the jar. And even though some individuals may have terrible guesses, when you average everyone's guess together, you get very close to the correct answer. Of course, we're assuming that you went to school at a whimsical carnival.

So today guest musician Julian Velard will have to decide whose wisdom he trusts more, a recent live audience we pulled right here at The Bell House or the wisdom of our puzzle guru Cecil Baldwin. So here we go. Cecil, according to the Disney World theme park, how many pairs of sunglasses are turned in to their lost and found department every day?

CECIL BALDWIN: Every day? And this is just one theme park?

EISENBERG: One theme park.

BALDWIN: How many - OK, so just pick one theme park. I'm going to say 3,000.

EISENBERG: Three thousand, OK. Our audience...

BALDWIN: People are forgetful.

EISENBERG: Yeah. Our audience thought the answer was 2,422. So what do you think, Julian?


EISENBERG: Who's closer, is it Cecil or is it the audience?

VELARD: I think there's a logical way to approach this because obviously, like, I'm going to go with Cecil's answer. I'm going to say 3,000 because there's so many more numbers that are over 3,000.


EISENBERG: Guess what? The answer is 210.


EISENBERG: Cecil, according to the National Peanut Board, how many peanuts does it take to make one 12-ounce jar of peanut butter?

BALDWIN: So that's, like, a normal peanut butter jar size.


BALDWIN: I think I overshot on the last one.


BALDWIN: So let's, you know, let's undershoot and say 500.

EISENBERG: Five hundred, OK. Our audience thinks the answer is 4,147. So who's closer, Julian, Cecil or the crowd?

VELARD: That's clearly - yeah, the crowd is way wrong. Yeah, Cecil. Cecil's answer's right.

EISENBERG: The answer is actually 540, Cecil.

VELARD: Yes. Yes.


EISENBERG: Good job going with Cecil.

VELARD: Spatial reasoning.

EISENBERG: Well done. Cecil, according to the market research group Packaged Facts - that's got to be a fun place to work.


EISENBERG: How many slices of pizza does the average American eat in one year?

BALDWIN: Is it how many slices of pizza does this average American eat in one year?

EISENBERG: You might - I don't know.

BALDWIN: Infinity symbol is the answer. I know between my brother and I, we average about a pie each. So that's, what? That's eight slices. In a year.

EISENBERG: In a year. How many times do you order pizza in a year?

BALDWIN: A thousand?


BALDWIN: That seems high, doesn't it?

EISENBERG: A little.

BALDWIN: But again, that's just me.

EISENBERG: I mean, that's just, like, three times a day. Is that normal?


BALDWIN: Let's say 400.

EISENBERG: Four hundred. Our audience thinks the answer is 148 slices. What do you think, Julian?

VELARD: The audience is right, clearly.

EISENBERG: OK. The actual answer is 46. They only had 46 slices.

BALDWIN: Forty-six slices?

EISENBERG: The average American.

BALDWIN: I'm sorry, do you all not eat a pizza a day?

EISENBERG: That's, like, the same thing. The doctor says, how many drinks do you have a week? And you're like, two. You know, that's what happened there.


EISENBERG: This is your final one. Cecil, across the entire 20-volume "Oxford English Dictionary," how many entries are there for words that are in current usage? Words that are not archaic old words...

BALDWIN: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

EISENBERG: ...Or variants of words.

BALDWIN: So essentially, the question is how many words do we know?


BALDWIN: Or how many words do we use? Oh, goodness, 20-volume "Oxford English Dictionary." Let's say 25,000.

EISENBERG: Twenty-five thousand. OK, Our audience thinks the answer is 102,380,866.



EISENBERG: Julian, who do you think is closer?

VELARD: So wait, that was the average answer that the audience gave?



BALDWIN: So people may have doubled or tripled that?

VELARD: Yeah, right?

BALDWIN: And then one person's like, three.

VELARD: OK, I'm going to go with Cecil, 25,000.

EISENBERG: The answer is 171,476. So it's...

VELARD: But it's still closer. But it's still closer.

EISENBERG: So it's Cecil. Yeah, it's - Cecil did it. Cecil did it.


EISENBERG: You both did fantastic.

VELARD: Excellent.

EISENBERG: Thank you so much for playing. You both get jelly beans.

BALDWIN: Yay, I love jelly beans.

EISENBERG: The Wisdom Of The Crowd, everybody.


EISENBERG: Hey, you, listening to this in Arizona and, hey, you, listening to this in Virginia, if your estimation is that the wisdom of our crowd might be increased if you were part of it, well, that's a kind of nerdy arrogance we love. ASK ME ANOTHER will be in Phoenix on April 6 and at the Virginia Arts Festival on May 18. Information at amatickets.org. Coming up, when's the last time a puzzle made you cry? Well, Julian Velard will parody Adele's iconic heartbreak song. I'm Ophira Eisenberg, and this is ASK ME ANOTHER from the NPR.

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