How big data increases inequality and threatens democracy - "A former academic mathematician and ex-hedge fund quant exposes flaws in how information is used to assess everything from creditworthiness to policing tactics, with results that cause damage both financially and to the fabric of society. Programmed biases and a lack of feedback are among the concerns behind the clever and apt title of Cathy O'Neil's book: Weapons of Math Destruction." [more inside]
From 1935 to 1951, Time Magazine bridged the gap between print & radio news reporting and the new visual medium of film, with March of Time: award-winning newsreel reports that were a combination of objective documentary, dramatized fiction and pro-American, anti-totalitarian propaganda. They “often tackled subjects and themes that audiences weren’t used to seeing — foreign affairs, social trends, public-health issues — and did so with a combination of panache and subterfuge that today seems either absurd or visionary.” (Previous two links have autoplaying video.) By 1937, the short films were being seen by as many as 26 million people every month and may have helped steer public opinion on numerous issues, including (eventually) America’s entry to WWII. Video samples are available at Time.com, the March of Time Facebook page and the entire collection is available online, (free registration required) at HBO Archives. [more inside]
Are NBA referees racially biased when calling fouls? In a paper [PDF] released yesterday, economists Wolfers and Price claim that an all-white team would win two extra games over an 82-game season.
You are very bad at making decisions. Welcome to the world of cognitive biases. They are why it is so easy to see conspiracies in the death of microbiologists, to be unaware of how incompetent we are, to regret our bids on eBay, and to be superstitious rationalists. Perhaps you should learn to use them before you are taken in. Finally, cognitive biases are why you will remember the end of this po