Our Philosophy

We Trust in the Wisdom of the People

More than 100 years ago the work of Jane Addams, the first social
scientist, emphasized the importance of knowing by experience. Jane
realized that living amongst the people she wished to serve in order
to gain a sense of their experience was the only valid basis for an
intervention. In discussing her work with her professional peers she
stated, “we have not yet learned that unless all men and all classes
contribute to a good, we cannot even be sure that it is worth
having.” She was emphasizing the importance of the wisdom of the
people and the need to make use of that wisdom when solving social
problems.

More recently, James Suroweiki conducted a study of “The Wisdom of
Crowds” published in a book of the same name. In this book he points
to example after example of instances where the experts got it wrong,
and the crowd got it right. By way of explanation, he says: “Experts,
no matter how smart, only have limited amounts of information. They
also, like all of us, have biases. It’s very rare that one person can
know more than a large group of people, and almost never does that
same person know more about a whole series of questions. The other
problem in finding an expert is that it’s actually hard to identify
true experts. In fact, if a group is smart enough to find a real
expert, it’s more than smart enough not to need one.”

He found, though, that there are certain conditions required for a
crowd to be smart: “It needs to be diverse, so that people are
bringing different pieces of information to the table. It needs to be
decentralized, so that no one at the top is dictating the crowd’s
answer. It needs a way of summarizing people’s opinions into one
collective verdict. And the people in the crowd need to be
independent, so that they pay attention mostly to their own
information, and not worrying about what everyone around them thinks.”

This is the basis for the Research Philosophy of Blind Wisdom. We
demonstrate that those having the experience of blindness know best
what needs they have, what issues confront them, and that they
readily recognize advantageous solutions when presented. To this end,
we are committed to the development of a Wikipedia of Blind Wisdom
that organizes the experience-based Wisdom of the Blindness Community.

The greatest resource in the blindness community is the wisdom of the
people. To accomplish our mission, we at Blind Wisdom must develop
new methods, new tools, and think in new ways, so we may all gain the
benefits from that resource.