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An Economist Best Book of the Year
A PBS NewsHour Book of the Year
An Entrepeneur Top Business Book
An Amazon Best Book of the Year in Business and Leadership
New York Times Bestseller
Foreword by Steven Pinker, author of The Better Angels of our Nature
Blending the informed analysis of The Signal and the Noise with the instructive iconoclasm of Think Like a Freak, a fascinating, illuminating, and witty look at what the vast amounts of information now instantly available to us reveals about ourselves and our world—provided we ask the right questions.
By the end of an average day in the early twenty-first century, human beings searching the internet will amass eight trillion gigabytes of data. This staggering amount of information—unprecedented in history—can tell us a great deal about who we are—the fears, desires, and behaviors that drive us, and the conscious and unconscious decisions we make. From the profound to the mundane, we can gain astonishing knowledge about the human psyche that less than twenty years ago, seemed unfathomable.
Everybody Lies offers fascinating, surprising, and sometimes laugh-out-loud insights into everything from economics to ethics to sports to race to sex, gender and more, all drawn from the world of big data. What percentage of white voters didn’t vote for Barack Obama because he’s black? Does where you go to school effect how successful you are in life? Do parents secretly favor boy children over girls? Do violent films affect the crime rate? Can you beat the stock market? How regularly do we lie about our sex lives and who’s more self-conscious about sex, men or women?
Investigating these questions and a host of others, Seth Stephens-Davidowitz offers revelations that can help us understand ourselves and our lives better. Drawing on studies and experiments on how we really live and think, he demonstrates in fascinating and often funny ways the extent to which all the world is indeed a lab. With conclusions ranging from strange-but-true to thought-provoking to disturbing, he explores the power of this digital truth serum and its deeper potential—revealing biases deeply embedded within us, information we can use to change our culture, and the questions we’re afraid to ask that might be essential to our health—both emotional and physical. All of us are touched by big data everyday, and its influence is multiplying. Everybody Lies challenges us to think differently about how we see it and the world.
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About the Author
Seth Stephens-Davidowitz is a contributing op-ed writer for the New York Times, a lecturer at The Wharton School, and a former Google data scientist. He received a BA from Stanford and a PhD from Harvard. His research has appeared in the Journal of Public Economics and other prestigious publications. He lives in New York City.
Table of Contents
Foreword Steven Pinker xi
Introduction: The Outlines of a Revolution 1
Part I Data, Big and Small
1 Your Faulty Gut 25
Part II The Powers of Big Data
2 Was Freud Right? 45
3 Data Reimagined 55
Bodies as Data 62
Words as Data 74
Pictures as Data 97
4 Digital Truth Serum 105
The Truth About Sex 112
The Truth About Hate and Prejudice 128
The Truth About the Internet 140
The Truth About Child Abuse and Abortion 145
The Truth About Your Facebook Friends 150
The Truth About Your Customers 153
Can We Handle the Truth? 158
5 Zooming In 165
What's Really Going On in Our Counties, Cities, and Towns? 172
How We Fill Our Minutes and Hours 190
Our Doppelgangers 197
Data Stories 205
6 All the World's a Lab 207
The ABCs of A/B Testing 209
Nature's Cruel-but Enlightening-Experiments 221
Part III Big Data: Handle with Care
7 Big Data, Big Schmata? What It Cannot Do 243
The Curse of Dimensionality 246
The Overemphasis on What Is Measurable 252
8 Mo Data, Mo Problems? What We Shouldn't Do 257
The Danger of Empowered Corporations 257
The Danger of Empowered Governments 266
Conclusion: How Many People Finish Books? 271
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
The author tells you about biases and ignores his own which are glaring. He warns of association vs. cause effect and ignores it in his book. The author consistently makes leaps of faithh and ponders on ignorantly. The assignation of science to behavioralsociology is fallacial. I have critically reviewed scientific papers for decades, this author is intoxicated with big data collated from Google and what association he makes with said data is erroneous. He is obsessed with the differences his brother and he have regarding baseball of all things and often uses that as a similie. Horrid treatise, I say and I finished every word, much to his prediction's error.
First of all, I finished the book (last chapter explains). I have always loved research to find out about people. This book shows how this is changing and will change dramatically. Great insight about “why are all these companies tracking me” and how Google has changed us more than you think.
Big Lies is one of the best books I've read in a while. Initially I was reluctant to read it because it seemed like a stats book. Look! I made it through one stats class and I never want to go through that again. Reading Big Lies isn't like the stats class you took. It is a pleasure to read. The author used the Google data searches and Google trends to analyze quite a bit of information and the results are fascinating. How many condoms for American men & women use in a year? The polls show a total usage of more than a billion and yet the total condom sales in the U.S. was approximately 500 million. Why did Clinton lose the 2016 presidential election? These are only 2 examples of the interesting topics in this book. Get a copy now and read it.