Wisdom Of The Crowd

May 26, 2017
Originally published on September 22, 2017 10:39 am

It turns out that the Tiny Desk Contest isn't the only competition Tank and the Bangas vocalist Jelly Joseph has participated in. Jelly tells us about making Jennifer Lopez tear up on "American Idol," then we invite her to play a round of Wisdom of the Crowd. Jelly has to determine whose wisdom she trusts more: a recent live audience we polled or, the wisdom of puzzle guru Art Chung.

Then the band joins her onstage to play their song "Walmart."

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While Hudson and Cassie get ready for the final round, it's time for us to play a game called The Wisdom of the Crowd. It's based on a classic experiment that maybe you did in school. The teacher holds up a jar of jelly beans. Each student guesses how many there are in the jar. And even though some individuals have terrible guesses, when you average everyone's guesses together, you get very close to the correct answer.

So speaking of jelly beans, our guest contestant is Jelly Joseph, vocalist from Tank and the Bangas.


EISENBERG: Now, your nickname, Jelly, did you have that before you became part of the band? Is it a childhood nickname?

JELLY JOSEPH: Yes, yes. This has been with me for a long time. My birth name is Anjelika, so everybody calls me jelly.

EISENBERG: I like it. What's your favorite jelly bean?

JOSEPH: Starburst Jellybeans - whatever they've got, whatever they've got.


EISENBERG: (Laughter) Yeah. Now, you actually were a contestant on "American Idol" and made Jennifer Lopez cry.

JOSEPH: Yeah (laughter).


EISENBERG: What happened?

JOSEPH: Oh, my God. It was a great experience, though. I was probably the oldest girl on "American Idol" at the time. I was 27 at the time. Everybody was just, like, 18, 19.


JOSEPH: But it was cool. Jennifer Lopez is the sweetest, most down-to-earth woman I've ever met in my life. So - yeah.

EISENBERG: And so when you left, she freaked out and said, this is a mistake.

JOSEPH: A little, yeah. She freaked out a little bit. But, you know, it's good TV, you know?


EISENBERG: Yeah, right, right.

JOSEPH: You know, it's just...

EISENBERG: Yeah, you know, entertainment, entertainment.

JOSEPH: Good entertainment, you know, we talk.

EISENBERG: All right, so this is a fun game, Jelly. You have to determine whose wisdom you trust more - a recent, live audience poll we did here at The Bell House or the wisdom of puzzle guru Art Chung. Here we go. So, Art...


EISENBERG: ...According to the website FiveThirtyEight, how many billion humans have ever been born?

CHUNG: I know there's around 7 billion people right now. And I've heard that it seems like most of - all the people who were ever alive are alive now. So I'm going to say it's, like, more than 7 billion but not like 100 billion. I'm going to go (laughter)...


CHUNG: I'm doing this scientifically. I'm going to go 28 billion.

EISENBERG: OK, Art Chung says 28 billion people have ever been born. Our audience thinks the answer is 348 billion.


EISENBERG: A little bit of a discrepancy. So who do you want to go with, Art Chung at 28 billion or the audience - 348 billion?

JOSEPH: Man, this is a tough one.


JOSEPH: Yeah, I'm going to go with you, Art.

CHUNG: Thanks.

JOSEPH: I'm going to see what's up.

CHUNG: We'll see, me too.

JOSEPH: We'll see what's up.

EISENBERG: Well, guess what? That was a good idea because the answer is 108 billion.

CHUNG: Wow, closer.

EISENBERG: So technically, puzzle guru Art Chung was the closest.


EISENBERG: All right, Art, how many BILLY bookcases did IKEA sell last year?

CHUNG: Wow, wow.

EISENBERG: Only two of them were to me.

CHUNG: Well, there's 7 billion people on the planet.



CHUNG: And also, like, how many bookcases do you need to buy? I mean, I guess they do fall apart.

EISENBERG: They do, yeah, if they're exposed to water or air.


CHUNG: So let's say there's 10 million people graduating college every year...


JOSEPH: You are good at this.

CHUNG: And they all need a couple bookcases. I'm going to go 20 million (laughter).

EISENBERG: Twenty million. Our audience thinks the answer is 10,303,177...

JOSEPH: Good answer.

EISENBERG: So basically, roughly 20 million says Art. The audience says 10 million and change. Who do you think is closer?

JOSEPH: I like change. I'm going to go with 10 million and change.

EISENBERG: Yeah, the answer is 6.2 million, so you are correct again.


JOSEPH: I'm good at this. Y'all have to call me back.

EISENBERG: Here's the final one, Jelly. According to National Geographic, approximately how many quills does a porcupine have?

CHUNG: All right, I'm going to pretend a porcupine is like a basketball. And as we all know, the surface area of a basketball is four-pi-R-squared.

JOSEPH: Yeah, we all know. We all know that.

CHUNG: We all know that. Yeah. So let's say a porcupine is like a 12-inch basketball.



CHUNG: So that's...

EISENBERG: Just times that by 3.14 squared. You're cool.

CHUNG: Yeah, so the radius is six. So 36 times four is 144, times pi, let's say three. So let's go 400-something square inches. That's all I got.


CHUNG: So then let's say, I mean, I've never held a porcupine. But I feel like there's probably, like, 20...


CHUNG: ...Per - quills per square inch.


CHUNG: Right? Like, it's not a...

EISENBERG: I love this. You can just say a number at any time.


CHUNG: I'm going to go 8,000.

EISENBERG: Eight thousand.

JOSEPH: That's big.

CHUNG: Is that a lot?

JOSEPH: You are something else. Yes. I like your answers.


CHUNG: I think...

EISENBERG: Eight thousand. OK...

CHUNG: Maybe I didn't carry the one.


EISENBERG: Our audience thinks the answer is 113,157. Who's closer?

JOSEPH: All right, so I would have said 1,000.


JOSEPH: That's just what I would have said.


CHUNG: You've got to go with me then.

JOSEPH: All right, I guess I'll go with Art.

EISENBERG: So here's the deal.

JOSEPH: I'm wrong.

EISENBERG: The answer is 30,000.


EISENBERG: So Art's technically closer one again.



EISENBERG: Jelly, you are so wise.

JOSEPH: I am the wisest.


EISENBERG: You got them all correct.


EISENBERG: Well done. Give it up...

JOSEPH: Thank you.

EISENBERG: ...For Jelly Joseph, everybody.


EISENBERG: OK, Jelly, let's bring back Tank and the Bangas for one more song.

TANK AND THE BANGAS: (Singing) Everything in the whole damn store free. Everything in the whole damn store free. Everything in the whole damn store free. Everything in the whole, whole, whole store. Everything in the whole damn store.

Receipts. Receipts. Receipts.

Let's go. Let's go. Let's go. I see you, oh. I see you. But everything in the whole damn store was free. Everything in the whole damn store was free. Everything in the whole damn store was free. Everything in the - everything in the whole damn store was free. Everything in the whole damn store free.


EISENBERG: Tank and the Bangas, everybody. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.