The World is Not Created by Genius – Part II

I wrote an article named The World is Not Created by Genius long time ago, but didn’t explain the game in much details. I also wrote a Chinese blog about it. Now with the recent thoughts about the role of public opinions in China, I think it is the right time to re-write about the thoughts in English.

The Game

The game is still the same:

  • Gather a group of people (the more, the better)

  • Ask each person to write down a number between 0 – 100
  • Calculate the average of everyone’s number
  • The one who guessed closest to 2/3 of the average number wins

I’d also like to invite you to play the game.

Please really think about it, and choose a number before you continue reading.

Your name: (This is public information)

The number you guessed: it must be between 0 to 100

How to Win?

Let’s analyze everyone in this game. If everyone really pick a number randomly from 0-100, the most possible average should be around 50. Then 2/3 of 50 should be 33.3, isn’t it? That is the reason many people wrote 33 as the final result (however, there are many people who didn’t calculate like this at all).

But wait. At the time you write 33, you may think that you should not be the only person who are rational. What if they also write 33? If the number of people who are rational increase, it is very likely the average will be 33, so the best thing you can do is to write down 22.

Do you want to stop here? Maybe not. So you keep imagine the scenario, and people good at it may write down a series number like this:

50

33.33333333

22.22222222

14.81481481

9.87654321

6.58436214

4.38957476

2.926383173

1.950922116

….

Finally, there are always some people think they should guess 1, or even 0.

Our Result

This is the final result of our game:

30

98.16

32

50

12

33.3

22

8

8.2 <--- my guess

18

28.68

37

Average: 31.445

2/3 of it: 20.96333333

Winner: 22

BTW, I have organized several thousand people to play the game on my blog already. Here is the final result (including your guess you just entered). The average of the last 1000 people’s guess is 33.1597959904, and the winning guess is 22.10 at the time when I write this blog.

22 is the King

After many round of test, the winning number is always around 22.

The wisdom of the crowd, or the final decision of the crowd is always not so rational, and completely different from an ideal world. The people who decide how the world looks like is those who think one step further than most people, not those who think two or more steps further. In this game, different answers may represent different type of people. Let me try to analyze the different types in the game.

66.67 or above – random voter

In my sample of 1000 people, 131 of them choose 66.67 or above.

Before everyone’s number was revealed, I whispered to Wendy: “I don’t think there is anyone who should guess more than 66.67.”. The reason is, even if everyone guess 100, the winner number cannot be larger than 66.67. It turned out that I am wrong, since many people choose that one. They said they didn’t really understand the question.

In real world, there are many people who don’t want to think. Not just because they cannot think, just because not everyone is interested in the topic you are talking about and they don’t care. People who choose 66.67 above are only representatives of random picker. They may also choose 0, 21, 55, 32… just some random numbers, although I cannot identify them.

About the recent Torch relay accidents, the Tibet issue, the Earthquake, or any topic that we discussed on this blog, we are thinking and we are debate and finally agrees on something (like any number but not 67 or bigger), but most of the people in China, US, France, and rest of the world, they don’t care, and they don’t think, just like they are interested in something that I never thought of, or have an opinion. We have to consistently remind ourselves the existence of this group of people. They don’t think the way we are, but they also contribute to the final result.

0 – genius inside but stupid outside

Then let me talk about people who choose 0.

This is result is too extreme that many people never thought of when they play the game (including me). In the game my friend organized, almost every time, there are a very small number of people who choose 0. In my sample of 1000 people, 5.8% choose 0. The interesting thing is, the more rational or mathematics driven group, the chance people choose 0 is higher. Like in Microsoft Research Center, 3 out of 30 people choose 0.

Those who choose 0 intentionally (there are also some random voter who happen to randomly pick 0 without thinking) enjoy the pleasure of logic, and their understand of the world (or numbers). Unfortunately, not many people are with them. In normal environment, people who think hard enough to reach one step further to 22 is very rare, not to mention get to two steps further: 14, or further: 9…, or finally reach the ultimate number of a group of completely rational people: 0.

I have to tell them with sympathy: “You are a genius, but you cannot and will never win the game”. Maybe, at the very beginning, they don’t care about winning the game at all when they write down their answer, but they still write it down. With this suicide type of action, they claim that they are not care about the prize, they care to let the whole world know that they understand something others don’t understand yet.

Let’s imagine a scenario that if the “genius” has the opportunity to talk with everyone about what he/she thinks, and why choosing a small number give you a better chance to win, the whole group are still possibility follow the genius, and get to a point near 0, but history told us many times, that the chance for the genius to talk to the rest of the people is not so high, and most of the genius cannot be understood when they are alive. Genius are either mad, or die in a miserable situation.

33.33 – the vast majority

How about 33? They are normal people, common people, the vast majority of this society, just like millions of consumers of TV, shampoo, or microwave… They follow rules but never push further. They do what they are told, instead of really think why it works this way, and how it can work better.

They are the baseline of the world. Before them, are the genius (0) who LEAD the world, and people who push the world forward (22) and after them, are the followers who even don’t think.

22 – winner

Finally, let’s talk about winner, 22. Just like in number I collected (again, including your input), as long as there are enough sample (more than 20), the winner number is almost always around 22.

Like 33s, they also understand the rule, but they get one step and exactly one step further. They provide a solution that is easy to understand for majority (33s), but not as difficult to understand as those theory proposed by 0s. I even imagine that if Giordano Bruno just made some mild achievement, like find a new star that “goes around the earth”, he can get glory and money (like many successful scientists, business leaders of today). But if he goes much further to the truth than most people (33s) and claim earth is NOT the center of the universe, he just deserve 8 years of jail and fire on the plaza.

The Fate of Genius

The reason of the tragedy of genius is, they understand the physical world, but they don’t understand people. They understand something and think everyone see the same. They mistakenly ignored the existence of 33s, and even those random voters (67s). They are well respected in the specialized area (science, or technology), but if their success is judged by popularity (either during democratic process in politics, or market process in economics), they often completely fail. Anyway, this world is not completely made of geniuses.

Oh. The World!

In this world, there must be someone who see it more clearly and think deeper than most people. They are nearer to the truth, who we can use the world of “Genius” to refer. The question before those genius is, whether you choose to write down 0 or 22 in the game.

If you choose 0, you win the respect of history, when more people see what you see. However, you have to give up popularity, which often means money and fame.

The genius can also resist the temptation of 0, and pretend to be more stupid before other genius by choosing 22, they get what the society has to reward them. Pop-music are just better music than majority but not so serious, but they are popular! Best-sellers novels of today are not as good as classic novel after 100 years, but they are popular!

We can not imagine a world without 0s. Without them, who gives us rational and help us to see the truth? It is them who pulls this world forward with all kinds of difficulties. We show our respect to them. Those 22s, they helped many 33s and others to improve life by one step, and get huge success. With the effort of 22s, how people can transit to smaller numbers and eventually get near 0? We should also show our respect to them.

Anyway, the world is not created by genius.

P.S. OK. Enough about theory, and here is the result of the last 30 people, including yourself. Check out whether you win or not, and share with us your comment.

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Hard to Use Metro Instead of a Car

I wrote an article titled Leave Home Early to Avoid Traffic Jam. I said I have to wake up one hour earlier to avoid traffic jam. Many readers suggested me to take metro. For example:

How about Teleworking?

Or Car sharing?

Or taking subway?

Posted by: ecodelta on May 27, 2008 12:50 A

And this:

Does it take more than one hour for you to use the subway to get from your Pudong home to Xujiahui? Why not only use the car for weekends and trips other than work, in a more European style? I’ve now returned to Shanghai after just three years away, and the increase in private cars is amazing. An increasing number of car commuters during rush hour has so many bad points, and public transportation is so good in Shanghai now. How about trying the subway at 7, maybe before it too is so crowded?

Posted by: Aili on May 27, 2008 12:53 AM

And this one:

I don’t suppose you would ever consider moving closer to work. :) There’s some nice places to live in Hongqiao.

Posted by: Chinkerfly (external link) on May 29, 2008 12:18 AM

Finally this one:

what about forget the car in the car park and take public transport such buses and metro

its true that if you do not use the car your will not show to people that your own a car (status symbol), but if you do not drive yoru car and go with public transport, you will do to you and to all the following:

1) save petrol money bills in your pockets as well save the cost of car usage

2) most important of all save pollution to you and and everybody, as the not only the choking smokes of yoru car, but all the petrol plastic and pollutant material used for a car will be less consumes.. so finally you will help the world

3) dicreasing the consuem of petrol, will help to decrease wars, in example Iraq, Afganistan, durfur….

so think… instead to wake at 5…. take the subway…. you do a favour to you first and to everybody …

Posted by: jerry on May 29, 2008 10:01 AM

Thanks a lot for giving me suggestions, and I will consider it, and will try alternatives, but before I gave you the report, let me tell you more about why I made the current decision – a chance for my readers to know the life of Shanghai better.

Metro?

I love metro. I am a big fan of Metro. As you can see from the articles I wrote about Metro, riding a metro is the best thing I can think of to do in this city. However, riding a metro is still not a very feasible way for me to do it. There are several reasons.

There are no metro stations near where I live, and I have to find ways to get to the metro station in the morning. I tried many different approach.

Driving to Metro Station

Currently, this is no park and go facilities in Shanghai yet. I used to park my car at the gate of Century Park, and it takes only 10 RMB (1.4 USD) per day to park. I like it a lot, and do park and go at that time. But, it was closed already, and so does all the cheap parking lot near Metro stations like Longyang Road station, Shanghai Science and Technology Station. The current parking lot is both far from the station, and charges 10 RMB per hour. For people like me who often get back very late at night, I can easily paying 100 RMB to 150 RMB per day (that is about 20 USD). Not a very good solution for me. If anyone knows any good parking lot near these three station, or even stations far away, I would like to give it a try.

I do hope the city can build park and go facility and charge cheap for that, so I will definitely do it.

Bus to Metro Station

There are buses from where I live to Metro Station – I choose the Lancun Road station of Line 4, because there are no bus to other stations from where I live. When it rains and at rush hour, it easily take 40 minutes to get through the traffic near Pujian Road, or longer. I was proud of the traffic in Pudong, but not any more. That is about 1 and half hour to get to work, or longer if I am not lucky.

Taxi to Metro

This is also a dream solution, if I can call a taxi. In the morning from 7:00 to 9:00 AM, in the area, there is NO taxi at all. There are some illegal taxi departure at around 7:40 AM to metro station. I may consider take it some day.

Move to Downtown

I’d love to, if I can afford the price of the area – I shared the story of appointment finding experience, and we tried very hard. No result yet, and house price in that area keep increasing. We have a baby and we need bigger house than before, so it can easily cost 2-5 million RMB for a so-so apartment. Rent for a big family also does not look right, especially when I want Yifan to escape from the crowd and pollution in downtown.

We are also looking at the alternative of rent a smaller apartment for just we too, and even though of the stupid idea to drive home just for dinner and send Yifan to bed, and then drive back to the apartment at night, to avoid morning traffic. As I said, it is a stupid idea.

Back to the metro idea, transit at People’s Square or taking Metro Line #8, or #2, or #1 South section are miserable. Taking Metro Line #8 as an example, I am often told that people have to wait for 3 trains to get onto it in the morning. Regarding driving a car – I don’t like to drive in the morning, and I don’t want to show off my cheap car (although I love it so much and Goudaner is doing great so far). What I want is just show up at office on time, and with a pleasant experience.

Shanghai is a big city, with life in it, and problems in it. It is not a very pleasant city yet. In the last few years, I am trying to make the city more accessible information wise, but I also face some problems like commuting to work. In some areas, Shanghai is getting better and better, but in other areas, like transportation, it is getting worse. I am expecting the Metro Line #7 to open, which has a station near my home. I would be very excited to park my lovely car at its own parking space all the time, and use the Metro all the time (even at weekends). But any way, I still love my life and love this city. I am not complaining. I just want to find a solution to my little problem. Besides this, life is wonderful.

So, that is the problem of living at where I live, and any suggestions? I’d love to save time, or save petro, or both. Suggestions are welcome, and I will try new approach (other than leave home at 6:00 AM) and see whether it works, then report on this blog.

I May Not Attend the CNBloggerCon 2008 in Guangzhou

Today when I talk with Christine and Elliot about the CNBloggerCon, I got to know that CNBloggerCon 2008 will be held in Guangzhou this year, but I am not as interested as before, and I don’t want to be part of it this year.

I am part of the first Chinese Blogger Conference 2005 in Shanghai. I simply love it. I love it so much, as you can see from the post I created about 3 years ago. I met many great bloggers, and I have been reading them for a long time. It is so exciting to meet them in person.

I also attend the second one in Hangzhou. To be honest with you, I didn’t enjoy it as I did in the first year. It turned into a China Web 2.0 Conference, and many companies, instead of bloggers, took the chance to do company pitch, and it is boring. Many non-blogger attended, and I don’t feel good about it – not because of the people, it is just a conference losing focus.

I was not able to attend the third CNBloggerCon in Beijing in 2007, but from the photo and the twitter message, I feel it is already far from what it was to be. It is just a not-so-famous gather of web 2.0 companies, and it is no longer a blogger meetup. I don’t like the feeling that someone speak far from the audience, and there are no interactions between them.

The forth one? I am not as passionate about the first one, even the third one. I may choose to stay away from it, and feel what a pity it is that a great conference turned something not good for me – I am only saying on behalf of myself. I still hope other bloggers or companies like the conference, and enjoy the time there.

I Felt Afraid of Public Opinions Now

Recently, I felt more and more helpless. Once, when I was younger (around 20 years old, I think), I always classify myself into the group who represent the public opinions – we think exactly like the massive public. However, in the recent years, especially after I started this, and at some special events, I just realize that my opinions are often on the opposite side of what most of people are thinking. I felt pretty worried and felt afraid.

Like the recently, people really get angry of many companies, especially international companies, and public companies, for not donating enough money to the disaster relief in Sichuan. For example, Vanke and its CEO Wang Shi were attached like crazy, just because they only donate 2 million RMB to the earthquake at the night of the earthquake, and Wang Shi justified the amount by saying it is what the board authorized them to do. For me, I felt Wang Shi did exactly the right thing by stick to the principles by not abuse his right and donate something that does not belong to him. However, I am obviously on the wrong side of the camp from most of my friends – they said I am stupid, not to mention the massive attach on the Internet.

For most of the company CEOs, when I check their decision to donate tens of millions of dollars, people get very excited, and no one really check whether they are authorized to do it. Also, many companies where boycotted, just because they donate just several million Yuan, instead of tens of million. KFC was boycotted, and people are protesting before many branches, in many cities. What happened before Carrefour happened before KFC, and many other multinational brand companies, simply because they just donate 10 million RMB, not more. Like Wanglaoji, another local brand, who donate 100 million RMB to Sichuan, which is named the best company of China (according to Nanfang Weekend). Personally, I think emotionally speaking, there are some sense in it, but rationally, I don’t think most of the companies, especially public companies can donate more than what its share holders authorized them to do. The current donation (like crazy) is a very good thing for Sichuan, but it hurt the well being of China in long term – it is public abuse of their power, and if I don’t put it into the crime bucket.

Recently, around the earthquake, there are many opinions around donation amount, and many many issues. The really good thing is people start to discuss about it publicly. I do feel very happy about it, although I don’t agree with many of the reaction from the audience.

However, I really get depressed, that free speech is not pressed by the government, it is well censored by the public opinions. I don’t want to mention to much of it, just because I know I will be another Wangshi – being the target of most of people in China, and be called whatever bad thing people can think of.

So, I am really afraid of public opinion now. Inside myself, I often feel that I stand on the other side of the people in this country. You know that kind of feeling?

P.S. Ping Pong Game Resumes

I am resuming my Ping Pong game practice now. I played Ping Pong for some time at night, and finally get back to the status I am in many weeks ago. Now I feel much better, and ready to challenge many people tomorrow.

P.S. Met Christine, Elliot, and Thalia

Met Christine Lu from The China Business Network, Elliot from CNReviews.com, and Thalia from ChinaOnTV.com. Nice talk about blogging, business in China, classified a little bit, and the upcoming cnbloggercon.

YLF 2008 in Snoqualmie, WA

This year’s Young Leaders Forum (YLF) will be held in Snoqualmie, WA, USA, from September 18, to September 22, 2008, after it was held successfully in Nanjing last year.

The venue is Salish Lodge, 45 minutes outside of Seattle. From the picture on their website, it looks great – there is a big fall there (I hope it does not turn out to be smaller than the impression it gave me). I have been to Seattle many many times, but never went to the mountain area, and I was told it is great.

But the most exciting thing for me is to be able to get together with other YLFers, the talented people rarely see (so many) gathering together. As a YLF 2007 Fellow, this is the second year (and the last sponsored year) to attend, but I hope I will continue to be part of the family at my own expense in the future (if the program continue to allow alumni to return).

Since the even is from Thursday to Monday, I am thinking of getting to US several days earlier – I am a serious jet lag person, and I don’t want to fall asleep during the session, and I can also spend time in San Jose, California, and Redmond, Washington, to see some friends there.

So, if you live in the Seattle area, I will be happy to meet with my readers in person. I will organize a meetup session, maybe at the airport before or after the trip. If you’d like to be notified of the meetup event, please leave a comment below (I will be able to see the email in the email column and will send you the notification when it is set). I know I have many people to see, if you remember that I have worked for Microsoft for almost 7 years.

Leave Home Early to Avoid Traffic Jam

The recent traffic in Shanghai is worse and worse. Wendy and I was deeply annoyed by the current situation. The trip from our home to my office was used to be 45-50 minutes, but now, it is always more than 1 hour. There are many metro stations along the Zhaojiabang Road (4 of them), and Xujiahui just detoured all the traffic on Hongqiao Road to allow space for Metro #9, and #11 station construction. This adds another minute delay.

So we have decided to leave home before 7:00 AM instead of before 8:00 AM. This is the first try. We wake up at 6:40, and left home before 7:00 AM. The reason we choose 7 is, then we can get to the elevated highway before 7:30 AM, from when we are not allowed to use the road.

Today’s test is discouraging. It also takes 1 hour for us to get to Xujiahui. The good thing is, though, we don’t need to worry about being late to office.

So, we thought of an even more aggressive plan. We hope to stick to 7 AM for some time, and push our limit forward to leave home at around 6:00 AM. Let’s see what it looks like.

P.S. What we can confirm is, one day, we left home at 5 AM, and it was pretty empty everywhere, which inspired us to wake up early to avoid the traffic.

Update about Earthquake

Like all the other days, we sit before TV to watch what is going on in the earthquake area. The jammed dam was dangerous enough to breakout, and tonight, they have to migrate about 300,000 people from Mianyang to higher mountains. The plan to move more than 1 million people is in place in case the dam collapse. It is another round of danger for the suffered people there. I will keep my fingers crossed, and keep donating money to them. If you want to help, I would appreciate it on behalf of the people in epicenter.

Thinking of Charity Sale of eBook of this Blog

I am also thinking about assembly something, like a e-book of all my blog entries with pictures, to put on a charity sale on my blog. 100% the money will go to disaster relief efforts. Anyone has any idea about what is the best way to do it based on a MovableType platform?

Olympic Torch Arrives in Shanghai

Olympic Torch has arrived in Shanghai today, but it is extremely low key this time.

I didn’t go to the torch relay since it is working day, and when I turn on TV or radio at night, there is no any mention of the torch so far. All the news are still about Sichuan earthquake and relief effort. I think it is the right thing to do.

The torch went on the same street as where I am living and it is about 3 km away from my home.

Tomorrow, the Torch will march for its second day in Shanghai, and it will arrive the Shanghai Jiao Tong University Minhan campus.

P.S. At night, I saw the replay of the relay on Shanghai TV Sports channel.

Requirements for Websites Related to Earthquake

Since I have previously hosted my little blog at one of the data center in Shanghai, I got an email in my mailbox from the government (Internet branch, News department, Shanghai Municipal Government) about the requirements for websites related to the recent earthquake.

image

Brief translation (for time being, didn’t fine tune words, and it just reflecting the basic ideas. Refer to the original letter for details).

To every web site in this city:

The Statement Department decides to hold "National Mourn Day" from May 19 to 21 . According the spirit of  the instruction of News Office of State Department, the following requirements are announced:

  1. Every web site should propaganda and report State Department’s Announcement promptly, dominantly, and repeatedly;  should timely and dominantly report mourning activities of Party Central Committee, State Department and local’s. In parallel with propaganda and report on the Internet, related web site should utilize mobile SMS, MMS, Mobile newspaper, etc methods to report. State Department Announcement should be put at the dominate location on the home page of every web site during National Mourning Day.
  2. Every web site stops 3 days of all kinds of entertainment activities and services. From 0:00 19thto 24:00 21th, every game web site, game channels of every web site must be all closed; every entertainment channel and entertainment kind of video and audio channel web site must be covered by mourning pages; pages under these channels must not be accessible. All entertainment forum of all web sites must all be closed; all music, entertainment video search function of all search engine must be all closed; all entertainment kind of advertisement must be all closed.
  3. Organize mourning on the web well. Atmosphere of all web site must be appropriate to the national morning.  All major news site, and major commercial sites should well organize mourning activities joined by netizens, should completely reflect the painful sentiment and patriotic heart of massive netizen.
  4. Effectively do the media management job. All major web site should implement 24 hour on duty, meanwhile must have person-in-charge to lead the team. Every web site should effectively strengthen management of forum, blog etc interactive columns. All comments that are not in align with the main theme of anti-earthquake and disaster relief must be completely deleted. The job implementation situation of every web site should be reported in electronic form to Municipal Government News Office (mailbox: sinonet@shanghai.gov.cn).
  5. Make disciplines strict. For web site who does not do the effective job effectively, should be seriously criticized, and handled. Web sites which do not obey requirements will be all closed, and will be hold responsible afterwards.

Earthquake didn’t change China too much.

Shanghai After Sichuan Earthquake

  1. Focus media stopped all the LCD commercial these three days. There are black screen everywhere in this city.
  2. Bund turns off lights at nights.
  3. All newspapers are black and white.
  4. All the national flags were lowered
  5. Many young people are vending national flags, or T-shirts with "Love China"
  6. Donation boxes are still seen in many places
  7. No film on these days