Everybody Lies: Big Data, New Data, and What the Internet Can Tell Us About Who We Really Are by Seth Stephens-Davidowitz

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“In 2014, there were about 6,000 searches for the exact phrase “how to kill your girlfriend” and 400 murders of girlfriends.” 

 

As a chapter tells us, ALL THE WORLD’S A LAB. The data collected and shared by Seth Stephens- Davidowitz is downright disturbing at times. That there are dark sexual proclivities isn’t shocking so much as what they are, based on research. Also, who knew that your neighbor winning the lottery can have a strange impact on your own life. How odd human nature, what bizarre subjects human beings become, and subjects of research, it seems, we all are. What the heck does google searches reveal about us? A lot, actually. I spent a few chapters of this book with my moth hanging open, catching flies. Ethical questions certainly give rise to much of the research, just where is the ‘internet’ taking us all? Just who is watching, why? Well, read on my fellow test subjects. Do we think in strange ways? Naturally. I struggle with the methods of collecting data and yet, it’s true that while it can be used for nefarious purposes, just like anything else, there can be great benefits too.

How can we know what is real? How can anyone trust searches as solid fact? Data makes some of us cross eyed with boredom, but here Seth Stephens-Davidowitz presents it in a manner most people can understand and also be humored and at times shocked by. I will never think about strawberry pop tarts without thinking about hurricanes. A strange comment, but that’s what this book is all about- the bizarre data we provide, whether we realize it or not. Are we really just a bunch of liars? Do we all just masquerade online? Is the world so twisted? Just how much can you really measure to determine the future of what’s hot, what will sell, what stocks will rise and fall? How did one man predict the success of the horse American Pharoah? Who gives corporations the right to use collected data, and should they?

How do interests and fun tests measure IQ on facebook?  Just what is our doppelganger and why does it matter? And hilariously, how many of the readers finish books? What about this one? Well, I did. I particularly enjoyed the chapter “Was Freud Right?” I wonder, were he alive today, how much of his theories would stand up to actual research. The Banana dream data is food for thought and yes I’m trying to be punny here, I wonder what that means about me, according to research.

The information isn’t overbearing, and most of it is fascinating. Statistically, you may well finish this book too.

Publication Date: May 9, 2017

Dey Street Books

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