Wisdom Of The Crowd

Jun 1, 2018
Originally published on June 1, 2018 1:32 pm

Ophira and Jonathan join forces and face off against the audience to ponder the numerical answers to some of life's greatest questions.

Heard on Ethan Slater & Kyle Jarrow: Squarely SpongeBob.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.


While Rosanne and Nathan get ready for the final round, it's time for us to play a game. This is Wisdom Of The Crowd. Greg Pliska, remind us how this game works.

GREG PLISKA: We asked a previous live audience here at The Bell House to answer trivia questions with numerical answers. For example, what's the answer to life, the universe and everything?


PLISKA: No, a previous audience. No, I'm kidding. Forty-two is, in fact, the answer to that question from Douglas Adams' "Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy." So we averaged up everyone's responses to these questions, and now we'll compare the wisdom of the crowd to the wisdom of Ophira and Jonathan.

EISENBERG: Interesting.

PLISKA: All right. Here we go. According to the Orkin Pest Control company, what is the life expectancy of a housefly?

EISENBERG: I'm going to say all summer.

JONATHAN COULTON: All summer. The whole freaking summer. Buzz, buzz, buzz.

EISENBERG: They come in. That's right. You're like, that fly again.

COULTON: You can't tell if it's the same fly.

EISENBERG: Wait. When they come in your house, you don't put a little hat on them?

COULTON: I try to but they always fly away.


COULTON: I mean, I know that there are some flies who live like a day like the mayfly.

EISENBERG: Like fruit flies.

COULTON: I do agree, a housefly you get to know and he's around all the time.

EISENBERG: Yeah. It feels like longer than two weeks, could be three weeks. Could they last a month? I don't know.

COULTON: They could last a month.

EISENBERG: They could last a month.

COULTON: It could be anything. We don't know anything about biology.

EISENBERG: Sure. Sure. Let's say a month.

COULTON: A month.

PLISKA: All right. So you say 30 days. And the crowd thought a housefly lives for seven days. The correct answer, according to the Orkin Pest Control company, is 15 to 30 days. You are correct. You just picked the extra-long living. Some of them are dead in a couple weeks.

COULTON: The maximum.

EISENBERG: Do we know if the male or the female lives longer or anything like that? Do we know anything about that?

PLISKA: You know, it depends upon the sex of the fly, the temperature, the living conditions. So if you make it real nice for them, give them a little bed, a lot of food, they'll stay for at least a month.

COULTON: Do they take care of themselves? Do they exercise? Do they smoke cigarettes?

EISENBERG: Right. Are they vaping all day long? Got it.

PLISKA: All right. Here's another one for you. How many seconds long is the shortest song to make the Billboard Hot 100?

COULTON: Well, listen. I mean, you know, you could - a pop song is usually - it's three-something, some 3:20, 3:30.

EISENBERG: Yeah, man. I don't know. This is your stuff.

COULTON: This is my scene, so let me lay it down.

EISENBERG: Tell me about the world.

COULTON: Let me play some jazz for you right now.


COULTON: So - but, you know, you could do a solid pop song in maybe 2:15, especially in the olden times, the Beatles era. But I'm going to say there's some sort of weird novelty thing that was even less.

EISENBERG: Exactly. Like what if they - I'm just going to try to use your lingo - like one or two licks.

COULTON: A couple of licks.

EISENBERG: Just couple of licks.

COULTON: Couple licks and some lyrics.

EISENBERG: Bit of some tritone substitution, a sinister bass solo.

COULTON: Yeah, sure. Hello, music geeks.

EISENBERG: So, what, 20 seconds?

COULTON: Yeah. Let's say 20 seconds.

EISENBERG: OK, 20 seconds.

PLISKA: OK. You're going to say the shortest song to make the Billboard Hot 100 was 20 seconds long.

COULTON: Not saying it was a good song.

PLISKA: The crowd says the shortest song to hit the Billboard Hot 100 is 79 seconds long. And the real answer is 45 seconds, which - this requires doing math. You are closer than the crowd once again.


PLISKA: It's a 2016 song called "Pen-Pineapple-Apple-Pen."

COULTON: Is it written by a machine?

PLISKA: By a fictional Japanese pop star named Pikotaro. Let's hear a clip.



PIKOTARO: I have a pen. I have a apple. Apple pen.

PLISKA: That was almost the whole song.

EISENBERG: That was pretty good. I love it.

PLISKA: So that was an - you guys did an excellent job.

EISENBERG: Yeah, all right.

PLISKA: In fact, you got them all right. So good work, Ophira. Good work, Jonathan. And good work, audience.

COULTON: Thank you.

(APPLAUSE) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.