Francis Galston's experiment, a cow named Penelope, and the wisdom of crowds : Planet Money This episode originally ran in 2015.

About one hundred years ago, a scientist and statistician named Francis Galston came upon an opportunity to test how well regular people were at answering a question. He was at a fair where lots of people were guessing the weight of an ox, so he decided to take the average of all their guesses and compare it to the correct answer.

What he found shocked him. The average of their guesses was almost exactly accurate. The crowd was off by just one pound.

This eerie phenomenon—this idea that the crowd is right—drives everything from the stock market to the price of orange juice.

So, we decided to test it for ourselves. We asked Planet Money listeners to guess the weight of a cow.

Spoiler: You can see the results here.

This episode was hosted by David Kestenbaum and Jacob Goldstein. It was produced by Nadia Wilson and edited by Bryant Urstadt. Alex Goldmark is Planet Money's executive producer.

Help support Planet Money and get bonus episodes by subscribing to Planet Money+
in Apple Podcasts or at plus.npr.org/planetmoney.

How much does this cow weigh? (Classic)

How much does this cow weigh? (Classic)

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This episode originally ran in 2015.

About one hundred years ago, a scientist and statistician named Francis Galston came upon an opportunity to test how well regular people were at answering a question. He was at a fair where lots of people were guessing the weight of an ox, so he decided to take the average of all their guesses and compare it to the correct answer.

What he found shocked him. The average of their guesses was almost exactly accurate. The crowd was off by just one pound.

This eerie phenomenon—this idea that the crowd is right—drives everything from the stock market to the price of orange juice.

So, we decided to test it for ourselves. We asked Planet Money listeners to guess the weight of a cow.

Spoiler: You can see the results here.

This episode was hosted by David Kestenbaum and Jacob Goldstein. It was produced by Nadia Wilson and edited by Bryant Urstadt. Alex Goldmark is Planet Money's executive producer.

Help support Planet Money and get bonus episodes by subscribing to Planet Money+ in Apple Podcasts or at plus.npr.org/planetmoney.

Always free at these links: Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, the NPR app or anywhere you get podcasts.

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Music: FirstCom - "La Vie Paris" and "Happy Is As Happy Does."