- 9,49 €
'A necessary book for our times. But also just great fun' Saul Perlmutter, Nobel Laureate
The world is awash in bullshit, and we're drowning in it. Politicians are unconstrained by facts. Science is conducted by press release. Start-up culture elevates hype to high art. These days, calling bullshit is a noble act.
Based on a popular course at the University of Washington, Calling Bullshit gives us the tools to see through the obfuscations, deliberate and careless, that dominate every realm of our lives. In this lively guide, biologist Carl Bergstrom and statistician Jevin West show that calling bullshit is crucial to a properly functioning social group, whether it be a circle of friends, a community of researchers, or the citizens of a nation. Through six rules of thumb, they help us recognize bullshit whenever and wherever we encounter it - even within ourselves - and explain it to a crystal-loving aunt or casually racist grandfather.
Evolutionary biologist Bergstrom (coauthor, Evolution) and data scientist West deliver an informative and energetic examination of the ways in which data can be misused to influence audiences. Bergstrom and West discuss familiar concepts such as confirmation bias, false equivalencies, and selection bias, and explore how bar charts, line graphs, and other visual representations of data provide fertile ground for manipulation. They break down the bad information behind a dizzying number of false or misleading claims published in advertisements, press releases, news articles, and scientific research (for example, that the third Monday in January is "the saddest day of the year"), and explain how poorly or carelessly designed algorithms can result in racial and gender discrimination. In addition to providing tools to ferret out misinformation, including lists of fact-checking websites and instructions on how to "corroborate and triangulate" suspicious claims, Bergstrom and West highlight the importance of "calling bullshit" when confronted with it (they do advise readers not to assume bad faith sometimes people just make mistakes) and outline how to do so persuasively. Though dense and intellectually rigorous, the book's brisk pace and jocular tone provide relief. The authors do a great job of equipping readers to better make sense of the vast amounts of data at their fingertips.