How many marbles are in this jar? You might be familiar with the game, sometimes played in math class or at a science fair in elementary school: a giant jar is filled with candies or marbles, enough that make it impossible to count. [Many people guess, and perhaps someone gets a prize for getting the closest to the actual total.] The point of the game is to illustrate the wisdom of the crowd: one single person’s estimate is unlikely to be accurate. But if you average two, three, four, many guesses together — as the theory goes — the average of many reasonable guesses will give a more accurate guess of the number of objects. It’s unlikely that we can guess the number exactly, but we’ll probably get relatively close.

Building on this idea, I wanted to construct an experiment of collective intelligence: in these times of an uncertain future, fake news, and vast social and political divisions, where people almost live in different worlds — divided, separated — how can we live together? Is there the potential that our common differences, our diversity, can put us on a path to finding truths? Are we indeed wiser together? If non-human species (ants, bees, etc) can demonstrate cooperation and collective intelligence, why does it sometimes seem impossible to bridge the divides and differences of humans?

In this experiment, you will guess your best guess of how much sand is in this jar. It’s an experiment. Guess as well as you can, and thanks for your participation.