Rhetorical Analysis of Wisdom of Crowds

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Rhetorical Analysis of Wisdom of Crowds by James Surowiecki Wisdom of Crowds is a book written by James Surowiecki about how the decisions made by groups, under the right circumstances, are more accurate or wiser than the decisions made by any single individual, no matter how intelligent that individual is. Published in 2004, Wisdom of Crowds is not only the title of his book but also the term he uses to refer to the phenomenon which occurs when a crowd’s opinions are diverse, independent, decentralized and aggregated properly. As Surowiecki successfully convinces his audience of a strange, yet somewhat familiar idea about humanity’s sometimes seemingly supernatural ability of predicting the outcome of events, he does so by repetitiously presenting allusions which the audience already find familiar. This, combined with referring to common interests, observations and concerns, increases the author’s ethos and makes him affiliated with a broad audience. Many of the examples Surowiecki refers to is already somewhat familiar to the audience. However, Surowiecki sheds new light on these familiar situations, events and observations in order to get the audience to connect them to his thesis. His first allusion appears already on the first page of his introduction, where he writes about Francis Galton and his research in a weight-judging contest. Every contestant were supposed to guess the weight of the ox, and as if it wasn’t difficult enough, the ox were going to be weighed after it had been “slaughtered and dressed” (XII). This concept is something many have experienced first-hand, if not with exactly ox, other animals or objects where the weight is difficult to guess. Due to the tasks complexity, this seems like a competition someone with experience with animals would win. However, Surowiecki points to a more effective force; collective wisdom.

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