Crowdsourcing and Scientific Truth

I recently read an opinion piece by Jack Hitt about what is arguably the most influential modern technology enabled process of recent times – crowdsourcing.

It seems like everything has come to depend on it, for example, what we read on the internet is fed by a search engine which relies on this process, also called “the wisdom of the masses.”

But, are the masses truly wise? Can they also generate what may be construed as “scientific truth?” Jack Hitt seems to think so:

From the article: ‘Any article, journalistic or scientific, that sparks a debate typically winds up looking more like a good manuscript 700 years ago than a magazine piece only 10 years ago. The truth is that every decent article now aspires to become the wiki of its own headline.'”

I would be temped to value the average of mass opinion, but scientific discovery and progress depends on what nobody has thought of before. Maybe a truly valuable opinion lies buried in the article comments and footnotes, if I could only find it through the “noise”.

Too much information may very well cause one to lose one’s train of thought, only to find it again where no one has thought of.

What do you think?