I’ll still go see the Taj Mahal even if it isn’t on a list

My Inbox had this upbeat message for me this morning:

Hello Every One……………..
This Message Is For Only True Indians. If You Love Your Country
Then Only Read This Message Further……….
=============================================

So Now The News Is That These Days People Around The World Are
Voting

To Select New 7 (Seven) Wonders.
Because Of Less Voting By Lazy Indians Our TAJ MAHAL is at 14th
Position (Only 0.7% Votes).

TAJ Is Pride Of India . I Want That You Vote For TAJ And Increase The Vote%, So That Our TAJ Get Place In 7 Wonders. If You Have Already Voted Then Forward This To Your Friends Indian as well as Others Countries.

Who Ever Get This Message Arrange 100 Votes In Favour Of TAJ MAHAL.

Make It A Mission Wake Up Indians

LAST DATE IS 7th JULY

Apart from the wonderful grammar, the whole idea of soliciting votes to figure out the “new 7 wonders” is ridiculous. The Taj Mahal is a monument that has stood the test of time, though not of pollution, and it will be a place that people want to visit. I’ve never gone but I am sure that I will sometime.

The media’s doing its job to hype the voting and people seem to be getting sucked in. Just because a bunch of people vote saying that “monument X” is one of the seven wonders, it doesn’t mean that it is. The process is flawed anyway–even with email-based voting, I can create multiple accounts and vote for the same monument.

Tags like “greatest”, “best ever”, etc. are subjective. You can argue about who scored the greatest goal till you’re blue in the face and yet not agree. Or you can make a list of the “best ever” movies and come to blows that The Shawshank Redemption isn’t on the list.

Plus, it helps to remember that the wisdom of crowds works only in certain situations:

Not all crowds (groups) are wise. Consider, for example, mobs or crazed investors in a stock market bubble. Refer to Failures of crowd intelligence (below) for more examples of unwise crowds. According to Surowiecki, these key criteria separate wise crowds from irrational ones:

  • Diversity of opinion: Each person should have private information even if it’s just an eccentric interpretation of the known facts.
  • Independence: People’s opinions aren’t determined by the opinions of those around them.
  • Decentralization: People are able to specialize and draw on local knowledge.
  • Aggregation: Some mechanism exists for turning private judgments into a collective decision.

I rest my case–I’m not voting. You go vote if you want.

And, if the Taj Mahal doesn’t make the list of the 7 wonders, don’t be disappointed. We can always make it the zero-th (0th) wonder–after all an Indian did invent zero.

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