Why being unanimous might not always be a good thing



Exhibit A: In a police line-up, the probability that an individual is guilty increases with the first three witnesses who unanimously identify him or her, but then decreases with additional unanimous witness identifications.

Exhibit B: Under Jewish law, one could not be unanimously convicted of a capital crime - it was held that the absence of even one dissenting opinion among the judges indicated that there must remain some form of undiscovered exculpatory evidence.

If you want to nerd out on Bayesian statistics, I refer you to Lachlan J. Gunn, et al's 'Too good to be true: when overwhelming evidence fails to convince,' published this month by The Royal Society.

In the meantime, it would seem to rather make a mockery of seeking unanimous feedback - whether it's from clients or from consumers - to ideas.

Because if absolutely everybody is loving (or hating) something, then the chances are something hasn't been thought about.

Just a thought.


Thanks go to Shane at the brilliant and essential Farnham Street for unearthing this gem