Document Type


Publication Date

Spring 2005


James Surowiecki, Wisdom of crowds, Deliberative democracy, Friedrich Hayek


Law and Society


This Comment reviews James Surowiecki's book, The Wisdom of Crowds (2004). It first situates Surowiecki's arguments with respect to traditional ideas of crowd stupidity, on the one hand, and Hayekian arguments about spontaneously ordering systems, on the other. Surowiecki notes that crowds can be both much smarter and much stupider than their component parts. The Comment examines Surowiecki's criteria for distinguishing smart crowds from stupid ones. It then applies those criteria to juries and theories of deliberative democracy, and makes several suggestions as to how we can structure deliberative institutions so as to make them wiser than their members.

Publication Citation

Published in: Yale Law & Policy Review, vol. 23, no. 2 (Spring 2005).