"In 1906, English scientist Francis Galton visited a country livestock fair and stumbled upon an intriguing contest. An ox was about to be slaughtered, and the villagers in attendance were invited to guess the animal's weight after being slaughtered and dressed. Nearly 800 gave it a go, and not surprisingly, no one hit the exact mark: 1,198 pounds. Astonishingly, however, the average of those 800 guesses came close -- very close indeed. It was 1,197 pounds."
[Galton pioneered the use of fingerprints for human identification. Not all of his work, however, was equally useful: Galton also tried to use statistical methods to work out the distribution of attractive people in England and to determine what percentage of prayers were answered.]