Everybody Lies: Big Data

Everybody Lies: The Hidden Truth about Everybody Lies, by Steven Pinker (Baylor & Corwin, 2021). The New York Times Book of the Year; “A stunning, must-read book… Buy it, read it, learn it, live it.”

everybody lies big data

Everybody Lies: The Hidden Truth about Everybody Lies, by Steven Pinker (Baylor & Corwin, 2021) – this book is a whirlwind tour of the inner workings of the human mind… Irregardless of your political persuasion, you’ll find something in this book that will enlighten you, make you think or even instill a small sense of gratitude towards humanity for the insights it provides. “It is as close to the holy grail as I’ve ever seen in a book… A sensation of new information dawning on the screen of consciousness like a flower opening up before your eyes.”

–The New York Times Book Review: “stepping into a private universe of collective unconsciousness, with its dark side and the bright promise, Mr. Pinker uses statistics, social science, and personal experience to illuminate the workings of our minds, uncovering the hidden truth about ourselves. In each chapter, a new piece of data emerges-and all are explained with considerable humor and understanding. “- Publishers Weekly (p 40)

–The Wall Street Journal: “Mr. Pinker uses sophisticated statistical methods and statistical calculations to present the findings of his research in a way that is accessible to the general public. Unlike some of his previous books, this one is not dry, fact-based information presented in an unappealing form. It’s all fun and games, and lots of it.” –Publishers Weekly (p 9)

–The New Yorker:”…arguably the best book on social networks, it deserves more attention than it has received.” –New Scientist (vol 7). “…the most fascinating aspect of the book is that it synthesizes all the major areas of research on social networking…” –The New York Times Book Review

–Forbes: “The report is full of surprising but plausible details about the privacy invasion and erosion of privacy that have occurred over the last few decades. It is scary that people would Trade their Right to Privacy to See someone’s Social Networking photos and other info if they can’t find out what those photos are about. It also makes me wonder if the NSA and FBI are collecting the same data as Google and Yahoo.” –The Week

–Comedy Central: “Search Engine Optimization experts John Simpson and Rich Grossman take an entertaining look at the ins and outs of some of the biggest players in the world of social networks, and what they’re doing that might make them even more slippery. This is very timely stuff, and there are some great examples of how people are using search data to catch somebody cheating on their spouse…who then gets to keep that information. Interesting topics, and some good jokes, but with all of this coming out, there is plenty to laugh about as well.” –PC Magazine

In Everybody Lies: Big Data Science, Stephen Davidowitz and Jacob Gerspach draw on a wealth of personal experience to tell the tale of two friends who find themselves in uncomfortable situations. They eventually learn that searchable web logs, called blogs, are a way to find out private information about almost anyone. Their story helps to illustrate how easy it is to obtain this kind of information for companies and individuals. The authors explain why companies should care about getting this kind of data, and why consumers should care as well.

Searchable web logs were created several years ago to allow users to search for information about specific terms. Originally, these were just lists of keywords, which could be searched via a browser. Over time, search engines improved their search capabilities, and now anyone can find just about anything they want, whether it’s personal or business information. This makes a big data science, more than ever, an interesting area of study.

“Everybody Lies” also uses some interesting examples of how search engines work, and why they may have trouble recognizing “truths” when they see them. The authors use social media to explain how people get honest answers to their questions, and how search engine results can sometimes get it wrong. They also touch on some of the ethical problems surrounding search data, especially as it relates to privacy issues. It’s a short book, but a good introduction to the complex topic of everybody lying.

All in all, “Everybody Lies” provides a lot of very interesting information about how big data and algorithms are changing the way we communicate. While this book does not provide a definitive answer on whether or not Big Data will replace traditional forms of communication, it’s a great introduction to the possibilities. More importantly, it’s an interesting look at what the future of computing might look like. The book is easily read in one sitting, thanks to its lucid style of writing and its easy to follow diagrams and appendices. I don’t know if there will ever be a concrete definition for Big Data, but reading this book gives me a good idea of where I am thinking along those lines.