Everybody Lies: The Inside Story on Everybody Lies by Steven Pinker (Scribner) is like taking a trip into the dark side of the conscious mind. At times, this dark side can be very attractive. In this charming little work by the author of “The Better Angels”, Mr. Pinker describes the inner workings of our emotional and mental machinery-and how lying starts, actually, in the very center of our being. This is a book that you’ll want to put down, re-read, and share with your friends.
Everybody Lies: The Inside Story on Everybody Lies by Steven Pinker (Scribner) is like taking a trip into the dark side of our mind. This book is about a new way of thinking about the mind… Endlessly intriguing ‘Steven Pinker ‘ A whirlwind tour of our emotional and psychological machinery-and how lying starts, actually, in the center of our being.
The book’s first half is all about how big data has affected us all. It points out that we are seeing changes everywhere-in business, in politics, in relationships. The new era, they say, is the age of information. And this age, according to them, has created huge opportunities for everybody, including marketers. This new data, they claim, can tell marketers exactly what people want, when they want it.
However, some social scientists argue that Pinker’s enthusiasm for the use of big data is too much. After reading the book, these social scientists claim, some things just seem silly: for example, when Pinker and his co-author explain why some people are really into fantasy sports as a business, and why others don’t find it that appealing. (It turns out that the “big data” used to make such predictions is too small and general to be able to pinpoint the individual characteristics of a person.)
In addition, Pinker and his co-author also analyse the value of new types of statistical analysis, especially those used in medicine. They point out that even though doctors use some form of statistics when they analyze their patients, this type of statistical analysis has been “collected and organised in a haphazard way” with no real purpose. Their book asks readers to imagine a doctor who uses only statistics to diagnose a disease, and who then prescribes drugs based solely on the results. Their book asks readers to imagine that they are that doctor and see if the results might work the same way in other medical situations.
The fourth section of Everybody Lies looks at what new types of technology mean for the future. It starts with the story of Google, and how the company transformed the way people used the internet. David Beckham was an early adopter of Google’s technology, which meant that if you were looking for a football game, you could simply type “watch live TV on TV” into Google. It was not long before people were typing URLs into search boxes and then watching shows online. The authors suggest that Google is onto something, and that future technologies will be heavily influenced by the decisions made by this giant search engine.
The authors then turn their attention to all the criticism that has been levelled at Google because it seems to be picking up on the prejudices of society, and displaying a kind of censorship. For instance, they say that the new algorithm Google is using is different to the one used by the British government to block pornography. This means that Google is, potentially, putting itself at the forefront of free speech, something like the UK’s regulator Of censers. David Clarke of Oxford University, who is responsible for creating Britain’s internet censorship legislation, is quoted as saying that he hopes Google will “step up its game”. The book also claims that Google’s new Big Data tools could be used to monitor the ethnicity and religious beliefs of internet surfers, and could even allow companies to discriminate against certain groups of people. This could, it is suggested, lead to discrimination not only in searches and content being accessed by Google, but also in employee hiring.
The last chapter of Everybody Lies looks at the new field of crowdsourcing, in which companies would use large databases to find more common questions that people ask. The hope is that big data can solve these sorts of problems better than existing methods, and make everyone’s life easier. Of course, this is a very general view of what the research into big data can do, and the book does touch on topics that are already being explored in much greater detail by various research teams.