Hot Best Seller

Calling Bullshit: The Art of Skepticism in a Data-Driven World

Availability: Ready to download

Bullshit isn't what it used to be. Now, two science professors give us the tools to dismantle misinformation and think clearly in a world of fake news and bad data. It's increasingly difficult to know what's true. Misinformation, disinformation, and fake news abound. Our media environment has become hyperpartisan. Science is conducted by press release. Startup culture eleva Bullshit isn't what it used to be. Now, two science professors give us the tools to dismantle misinformation and think clearly in a world of fake news and bad data. It's increasingly difficult to know what's true. Misinformation, disinformation, and fake news abound. Our media environment has become hyperpartisan. Science is conducted by press release. Startup culture elevates bullshit to high art. We are fairly well equipped to spot the sort of old-school bullshit that is based in fancy rhetoric and weasel words, but most of us don't feel qualified to challenge the avalanche of new-school bullshit presented in the language of math, science, or statistics. In Calling Bullshit, Professors Carl Bergstrom and Jevin West give us a set of powerful tools to cut through the most intimidating data. You don't need a lot of technical expertise to call out problems with data. Are the numbers or results too good or too dramatic to be true? Is the claim comparing like with like? Is it confirming your personal bias? Drawing on a deep well of expertise in statistics and computational biology, Bergstrom and West exuberantly unpack examples of selection bias and muddled data visualization, distinguish between correlation and causation, and examine the susceptibility of science to modern bullshit. We have always needed people who call bullshit when necessary, whether within a circle of friends, a community of scholars, or the citizenry of a nation. Now that bullshit has evolved, we need to relearn the art of skepticism.


Compare

Bullshit isn't what it used to be. Now, two science professors give us the tools to dismantle misinformation and think clearly in a world of fake news and bad data. It's increasingly difficult to know what's true. Misinformation, disinformation, and fake news abound. Our media environment has become hyperpartisan. Science is conducted by press release. Startup culture eleva Bullshit isn't what it used to be. Now, two science professors give us the tools to dismantle misinformation and think clearly in a world of fake news and bad data. It's increasingly difficult to know what's true. Misinformation, disinformation, and fake news abound. Our media environment has become hyperpartisan. Science is conducted by press release. Startup culture elevates bullshit to high art. We are fairly well equipped to spot the sort of old-school bullshit that is based in fancy rhetoric and weasel words, but most of us don't feel qualified to challenge the avalanche of new-school bullshit presented in the language of math, science, or statistics. In Calling Bullshit, Professors Carl Bergstrom and Jevin West give us a set of powerful tools to cut through the most intimidating data. You don't need a lot of technical expertise to call out problems with data. Are the numbers or results too good or too dramatic to be true? Is the claim comparing like with like? Is it confirming your personal bias? Drawing on a deep well of expertise in statistics and computational biology, Bergstrom and West exuberantly unpack examples of selection bias and muddled data visualization, distinguish between correlation and causation, and examine the susceptibility of science to modern bullshit. We have always needed people who call bullshit when necessary, whether within a circle of friends, a community of scholars, or the citizenry of a nation. Now that bullshit has evolved, we need to relearn the art of skepticism.

30 review for Calling Bullshit: The Art of Skepticism in a Data-Driven World

  1. 4 out of 5

    Ryan Boissonneault

    Brandolini’s law, which states that “the amount of energy needed to refute bullshit is an order of magnitude bigger than that needed to produce it,” explains why there is so much bullshit in the world. As Uriel Fanelli put it, “an idiot can create more bullshit than you could ever hope to refute.” So creating bullshit is easy; refuting it is hard. And it is precisely this asymmetry that explains why bullshit persists and how it can even grow over time. So how can one hope to rid the world of incr Brandolini’s law, which states that “the amount of energy needed to refute bullshit is an order of magnitude bigger than that needed to produce it,” explains why there is so much bullshit in the world. As Uriel Fanelli put it, “an idiot can create more bullshit than you could ever hope to refute.” So creating bullshit is easy; refuting it is hard. And it is precisely this asymmetry that explains why bullshit persists and how it can even grow over time. So how can one hope to rid the world of increasing levels of bullshit? Since it’s easier to create bullshit than to refute it, simply refuting each new instance of bullshit seems like a losing battle. The better strategy is educational; if you can inoculate enough people against falling for bullshit in the first place, bullshit never gains enough traction to require costly efforts at refutation. This, in essence, is the goal of the book. The authors want to immunize you against bullshit, with a focus on the quantitative variety. While it’s relatively easy to identify old-school bullshit based on flowery language and empty rhetoric, new-school bullshit is more insidious and sophisticated with its use of statistics, charts, graphs, and scientific-sounding claims. This is the bullshit that is more persuasive, harder to refute, and ultimately more dangerous. The authors first note that while arguments based on statistical and scientific reasoning can appear intimidating, there are basic fallacies that one can look out for that do not require any advanced mathematical ability. It is rarely necessary to look into the “black box”—the authors’ term for complex equations, algorithms, or scientific processes—when the problem with bullshit is often the data that feeds into the black box. Recognizing that the data is biased or unrepresentative of the larger population, for example, is an easy method of spotting bullshit that does not require any skills in higher mathematics. The authors then take the reader on a tour of quantitative fallacies with several examples, all explained clearly and with humor. The reader will learn how to differentiate between correlation and causation, spot biased and unrepresentative data and small sample sizes, identify selection biases in samples, understand how data can be manipulated visually, and more. The reader will also learn how to properly evaluate scientific claims, and how the anti-vaxx movement is based on a single, thoroughly-debunked scientific study that massively confuses correlation with causation, among many other problems. One of my favorite chapters, chapter 8, has the authors calling bullshit on arguments that claim that artificial intelligence will take over the world. This has always been bullshit and likely always will be, as the authors demonstrate the limits of how machines are designed to “think.” The book ends with a couple summary chapters on how to spot and refute bullshit, and also on the difference between calling legitimate bullshit and becoming what the authors refer to as a “well-actually guy.” Perhaps the most important point of the book is the idea that the goal of calling bullshit is not to demonstrate your intelligence and puff up your ego; it’s to counter the spread of misinformation in the world and its direct and indirect consequences. Overall, I suppose that if the reader has a lot of experience with informal logic and spotting fallacies—particularly of a quantitative nature—then this book might not offer anything particularly new. Although even then the book is filled with interesting, updated examples and a ton of polemical humor which makes the book a fun read. If, on the other hand, the reader has limited experience with these concepts, this book is a must read as it shows how quantitative bullshit can be spotted and refuted with even the most limited of mathematical ability.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Tara Brabazon

    I had high hopes for this book. It is OK. It makes some strong points about quantification and the visualization of data sets. But in so many ways, it performs the problems it critiques, but in the inverse. Two scientists write this book. Their commentary on science is welcome. But they are attempting to understand social media, historical transformations, the changes to education, and - indeed - affirm the value of media literacy training. Intriguingly, the entire literature on information litera I had high hopes for this book. It is OK. It makes some strong points about quantification and the visualization of data sets. But in so many ways, it performs the problems it critiques, but in the inverse. Two scientists write this book. Their commentary on science is welcome. But they are attempting to understand social media, historical transformations, the changes to education, and - indeed - affirm the value of media literacy training. Intriguingly, the entire literature on information literacy - with a nearly 100 year heritage - is missing from this book. What we see is - sadly - the familar narrative: "trust me I'm a scientist." The supposed "black box" of science is beyond mere citizens. That may be true. It may not be true. What is clearly true, is there are disciplines far beyond the empirical sciences that offer powerful commentary about social media, the history of information, information literacy, publishing studies and interface studies. Instead, we must be satisfied with the quote, "Science is humanity’s greatest invention.” Bless. The researchers make the important point that falsehoods are often simpler than the truth. That is why they are believed. But it remains important that scientists recognize there are specialist fields - and remarkable researchers - beyond their experience, expertise and vista. And science is not humanity's greatest invention. Knowledge is humanity's greatest invention. And it is promiscuous, mobile and agile. It will not be locked in the chains of disciplines or labels.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Peter (Pete) Mcloughlin

    Most people are good at spotting bullshit from politicians and salesmen after years of long exposure but in the era of big data and social media people need bullshit detectors for Bullshit 2.0 which is more likely statistical shenanigans and misleading data presentation. This book sniffs out the techniques of lying with statistics online as well as techniques for going back to original papers when you hear an extraordinary claim on social media about the latest finding. Also, some rules of thumb Most people are good at spotting bullshit from politicians and salesmen after years of long exposure but in the era of big data and social media people need bullshit detectors for Bullshit 2.0 which is more likely statistical shenanigans and misleading data presentation. This book sniffs out the techniques of lying with statistics online as well as techniques for going back to original papers when you hear an extraordinary claim on social media about the latest finding. Also, some rules of thumb like an extraordinary statistic is usually an outlier or mistake. Do jump at the latest eyeball grabbing wondrous news. The news is dressed up to be wondrous to catch eyeballs. Some good hygiene for your bullshit detector to keep it functional in weird times. An interview with the author. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xh91d...

  4. 5 out of 5

    Janet

    As someone who was recently roasted and bullied online as they did not believe that I am a superspeed reader, (they even sent me links to articles that state that speed-reading is a fallacy and a farce..and the language got really bad after that ... on their side as they blocked incoming messages) Yes, I read that fast ... it is an eidetic memory thing that runs in my family but do I remember the book a week later? Mostly ... plot, ending, etc. but I certainly do no memorize it! What kind of wor As someone who was recently roasted and bullied online as they did not believe that I am a superspeed reader, (they even sent me links to articles that state that speed-reading is a fallacy and a farce..and the language got really bad after that ... on their side as they blocked incoming messages) Yes, I read that fast ... it is an eidetic memory thing that runs in my family but do I remember the book a week later? Mostly ... plot, ending, etc. but I certainly do no memorize it! What kind of world do we live in that people bully each other on #goodreads ?? Back to business.... When life for the entire universe and planet turns on its end and like everyone else you "have nothing to do" while your place of work is closed and you are in #COVID19 #socialisolation, superspeed readers like me can read 250+ pages/hour, so yes, I have read the book … and many more today. (I have played a "zillion games" of scrabble, done a "zillion crosswords" and I AM BORED!!!) I requested and received a temporary digital Advance Reader Copy of this book from #NetGalley, the publisher and the author in exchange for an honest review. From the publisher, as I do not repeat the contents or story of books in reviews, I let them do it as they do it better than I do 😸. Bullshit isn’t what it used to be. Now, two science professors give us the tools to dismantle misinformation and think clearly in a world of fake news and bad data. It’s increasingly difficult to know what’s true. Misinformation, disinformation, and fake news abound. Our media environment has become hyperpartisan. Science is conducted by press release. Startup culture elevates bullshit to high art. We are fairly well equipped to spot the sort of old-school bullshit that is based in fancy rhetoric and weasel words, but most of us don’t feel qualified to challenge the avalanche of new-school bullshit presented in the language of math, science, or statistics. In Calling Bullshit, Professors Carl Bergstrom and Jevin West give us a set of powerful tools to cut through the most intimidating data. You don’t need a lot of technical expertise to call out problems with data. Are the numbers or results too good or too dramatic to be true? Is the claim comparing like with like? Is it confirming your personal bias? Drawing on a deep well of expertise in statistics and computational biology, Bergstrom and West exuberantly unpack examples of selection bias and muddled data visualization, distinguish between correlation and causation, and examine the susceptibility of science to modern bullshit. We have always needed people who call bullshit when necessary, whether within a circle of friends, a community of scholars, or the citizenry of a nation. Now that bullshit has evolved, we need to relearn the art of scepticism. The book dissects and repackages this subject expertly as every single day I hear "fake news / I did not tell people to inject themselves with Clorox / tanning beds are why I don't have COVID19 / etc etc. etc." This book can help you understand it and work through what you hear and make it make sense for me. This is expertly written and explained to the common reader: it is scholarly yet totally understandable. This would be an excellent book club pick as all of our kids are addicted to their screens and the bullying there and we need some help working through it. An excellent book and an excellent read! As always, I try to find a reason to not rate with stars as I love emojis (outside of their incessant use by "🙏-ed Social Influencer Millennials/#BachelorNation survivors/Tik-Tok and YouTube Millionaires/etc. " on Instagram and Twitter... Get a real job, people!) so let's give it 📱📱📱📱📱

  5. 5 out of 5

    Ramona Mead

    I was expecting a light, funny, informational read when I selected this book. I should have known better with terms in the blurb like "expertise in statistics" and "examples of selection bias!" Don't get me wrong, this is an incredibly interesting book, and there's humor. It's thorough and it is DENSE, full of graphs and equations and research examples. It was over my head at times. I had to read small portions at a time (and sometimes re-read them) but it makes a lot of sense to me how we as a I was expecting a light, funny, informational read when I selected this book. I should have known better with terms in the blurb like "expertise in statistics" and "examples of selection bias!" Don't get me wrong, this is an incredibly interesting book, and there's humor. It's thorough and it is DENSE, full of graphs and equations and research examples. It was over my head at times. I had to read small portions at a time (and sometimes re-read them) but it makes a lot of sense to me how we as a society are so easily manipulated by modern bullshit. This book covers a lot of ground and draws from many academic fields: philosophy, social psychology, social science, statistics, biology, and language. At times I was overwhelmed and upset by the blatant evidence of ways people are tricked by marketing, politicians, and celebrities. Ultimately, this is a useful book. The authors give us clear explanations and examples of how to wade through bullshit. By explaining complex principles and showing the difference between causation and correlation, the authors give the rear tools to use to help navigate today's headlines, social media posts, and myths. Many thanks to NetGalley for my advanced copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Deedi Brown (DeediReads)

    All my reviews live at https://deedispeaking.com/reads/. TL;DR REVIEW: Calling Bullshit is a slightly mathy but surprisingly useful book about how to think critically about the information and research we read about in the news. For you if: You’ve taken an intro to statistics class and want to learn how data and studies can be misleading. FULL REVIEW: I was pleasantly surprised by Calling Bullshit. A lot of big idea nonfiction books should really just be a TED Talk, but I didn’t feel that way about t All my reviews live at https://deedispeaking.com/reads/. TL;DR REVIEW: Calling Bullshit is a slightly mathy but surprisingly useful book about how to think critically about the information and research we read about in the news. For you if: You’ve taken an intro to statistics class and want to learn how data and studies can be misleading. FULL REVIEW: I was pleasantly surprised by Calling Bullshit. A lot of big idea nonfiction books should really just be a TED Talk, but I didn’t feel that way about this one. And it had some good jokes, too! The mission of the authors of Calling Bullshit is to give people the knowledge and tools to prevent themselves from being duped too often by misleading (either deliberately or not) information, especially in statistics and scientific studies. It starts out with “correlation vs causation” and issues with data samples, which are probably the most often recognized types of BS, but then it goes beyond that into things like misleading practices in data visualization, the true limitations of determining statistical significance in scientific studies, and even biases and selection bias in scientific journal publications. This book is by two scientists, two professors. And so expect that going in — their arguments are rooted in math and statistics. I think if you’ve taken an intro to statistics class, you’ll be able to follow along no problem. Of course, if you have a mathy mind, that will help, but I don’t think it’s totally necessary. Just be ready for it. While I did know some of what they covered before (mostly the first few chapters, which makes sense — they had to make sure everyone was on the same page before building on those concepts — I learned quite a bit in the later chapters. And I took statistics three times: in high school, during undergrad, and at business school. None of them were particularly high-level stats classes, but still. For example, I had never learned about the “prosecutor’s dilemma,” which has huge implications! And I really appreciated the chapter on journal publications and why we can’t necessarily take studies as fact. I finished this book feeling empowered and even more eager to start spotting bullshit out in the wild.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Miguel

    This is such a timely book considering the amount of disinformation that is actively and haphazardly being thrust at us every day on social media. The authors walk the reader through a wide array of bad information, biases, mis-truths, and fallacies to help recognize these and how to approach correcting or refuting these. It’s highly entertaining and informative throughout. In the early chapter they point out Brandolini’s principle which is: “The amount of energy needed to refute bullshit is an This is such a timely book considering the amount of disinformation that is actively and haphazardly being thrust at us every day on social media. The authors walk the reader through a wide array of bad information, biases, mis-truths, and fallacies to help recognize these and how to approach correcting or refuting these. It’s highly entertaining and informative throughout. In the early chapter they point out Brandolini’s principle which is: “The amount of energy needed to refute bullshit is an order of magnitude bigger than that needed to produce it”. Their approaches of more education, better use of technology and regulation is spot on and it’s also a great refresher on statistics and their misuse.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Tomas H

    It is currently August 2020 and there is a peak volume of bullshit in the world right now. Feel free, my fellow readers in the future, note this date of August 2020 for those of you who find this review, and search who the US president is right now and look up something called “Pizzagate” that I am embarrassed to say I saw a friend re-post on social media a lengthy explanation of how utterly true it is. Again, it is August 2020. Pizzagate was a conspiracy theory in 2016. Bullshit can make a come It is currently August 2020 and there is a peak volume of bullshit in the world right now. Feel free, my fellow readers in the future, note this date of August 2020 for those of you who find this review, and search who the US president is right now and look up something called “Pizzagate” that I am embarrassed to say I saw a friend re-post on social media a lengthy explanation of how utterly true it is. Again, it is August 2020. Pizzagate was a conspiracy theory in 2016. Bullshit can make a comeback. This book thoughtfully deconstructs bullshit and how to intelligently exist around it. It should be a textbook in general education classes everywhere about critical thinking. I am sad to believe that this book will stay very relevant for many years and I implore you, fellow readers of the future, reply to this review with the climate of bullshit in the future. I am hopeful, but don’t bullshit me.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Tamara Niemi

    This should really be required reading for everyone. The ways in which data are intentionally and unintentionally manipulated to convey a certain point can be subtle but Bergstrom and West guide you through it with ease. Honestly, the book is worth reading for the footnotes alone, which are extensive and often hilarious. I loved this book, but what I loved the most was the final chapter, showing how to refute bullshit with accuracy and empathy, and a not so subtle call to readers to not become a This should really be required reading for everyone. The ways in which data are intentionally and unintentionally manipulated to convey a certain point can be subtle but Bergstrom and West guide you through it with ease. Honestly, the book is worth reading for the footnotes alone, which are extensive and often hilarious. I loved this book, but what I loved the most was the final chapter, showing how to refute bullshit with accuracy and empathy, and a not so subtle call to readers to not become a "well actually guy".

  10. 4 out of 5

    Stephen Curran

    Excellent book, one of the best I have read in a long time. Shows how data and statistics can be used erroneously, using great examples.

  11. 5 out of 5

    LLDW

    Recommended by The Economist Issue August 1, 2020: https://www.economist.com/books-and-a... Recommended by The Economist Issue August 1, 2020: https://www.economist.com/books-and-a...

  12. 4 out of 5

    Mirek Jasinski

    Bullshit sells. Creating bullshit is easy. It is incredibly difficult to refute it. That is why, we are sinking in bullshit and have to work hard to distill true information. And social media are acting against us in this unequal fight. A very useful and readable book.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Laine

    I have been fortunate to have covered the material in this book in undergraduate and graduate courses yet I would absolutely take a course from these professors. The authors did a fantastic job explaining how to call bullshit in layman’s terms using relatable examples. I wish more people understood these concepts and applied them to their daily lives!

  14. 5 out of 5

    Joel Goh

    I can think of quite a few people I personally know who would benefit greatly from reading Calling Bullshit. Unfortunately most of them would hardly bother reading this book even if I were to gift it them. Perhaps they might read it if threatened severely enough with battery and assault using the hardcover edition of the book (not the Kindle version obviously.). But clearly I'm bullshitting you; I don't have the facts to back these assertions and even if I wanted to run such laboratory experiment I can think of quite a few people I personally know who would benefit greatly from reading Calling Bullshit. Unfortunately most of them would hardly bother reading this book even if I were to gift it them. Perhaps they might read it if threatened severely enough with battery and assault using the hardcover edition of the book (not the Kindle version obviously.). But clearly I'm bullshitting you; I don't have the facts to back these assertions and even if I wanted to run such laboratory experiments, the ethics committee of any decent academic institution would be shaking their heads in disapproval. As someone whose day job involves dealing with some data and interacting with potential bullshitters, I would consider myself fairly qualified to review this book. In addition, I have vast experience in fact-checking text messages and videos forwarded by my Dad, that are obvious lies. Oh, and I also used to work as a professional bull... I mean management consultant. :) I would have rated this book 4/5 stars. What pushes this to 5/5 is the timeliness of the subject matter and the opening and closing chapters that sandwich the meat of the book. In Chapter 1, the authors mention Brandolini's principle: "The amount of energy needed to refute bullshit is an order of magnitude bigger than [that needed] to produce it". Find out what "bullshit" actually is and why the world is increasingly inundated by it and how social media is driving "misinformation" and "disinformation". The middle chapters provide a decent overview of basic statistics, correlation vs causation, biasness, useful tools for your bullshit toolkit (e.g. Goodhart's Law and Berkson's Paradox), the abuses of data visualisations, what big data gets wrong and scientific errors and misdemeanours (e.g. p-hacking). The authors never get overly technical - which I suppose is "right' for the target audience that the book is pitched at. For instance, they talk about Bayes' theorem and provide examples without ever mentioning "Bayes". The text is very readable. Sentences like this in the early chapters had me hooked, though I am aware of the biases in my review that may result: "In today's social media world, our friends treat us to saccharine drivel about their latest soul mates, square-framed snapshots of their locally sourced organic brunches, and tiresome boasts about their kids' athletic, artistic, or academic accomplishments". The examples and anecdotes highlighted are insightful and entertaining. I don't want to give any spoilers so I will just mention that these include Taylor Swift, the defense minister of Pakistan, cat versus dog lovers' earnings, London Underground maps, Hillary Clinton's tweets, and the brain activity of dead salmon. My personal favourite was data on US taxable income that was redrawn into three different versions to show how readers can be manipulated. Using different bin widths (i.e. changing the size of groups that data is classified into), political scientist Ken Schultz managed to draw three different graphs that use the same data to (mis)lead the reader into three different conclusions - whether to tax the poor, the middle class, or the wealthy. What makes this book stand out from other similar books in the market are the last two chapters, "Spotting Bullshit" and "Refuting Bullshit". Here, practical advice is given on how to spot bullshit, e.g "1. Question the source of information". Sounds pretty obvious, but you'd be surprised how often people forget this basic first step. It is reassuring that many people make errors of spewing bullshit or believing bullshit, including the authors themselves. Hence, the section in the last chapter on how to call out and refute bullshit in an ethical and constructive manner is valuable. I couldn't recommend this book more. Permit me just two more digressions. First, how do you get the people who need to read this book to actually read it? Perhaps the authors could consider producing a"CliffsNotes to Calling Bullshit" or a "Very Short Introduction to Calling Bullshit" or even better, "An Illustrated Guide to Calling Bullshit" or "Calling Bullshit: The Graphic Novel". Second, for an excellent primer on statistics for the casual reader, I would recommend David Spiegelhalter's "The Art of Statistics: Learning from Data". Lastly, the authors caution us to avoid being that "well-actually guy". What exactly is that? Only one way to find out, dear reader.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Alessio Burani

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. It is a great guide on how to process information in the social media era, and how to avoid being deceived by bullshit. In the first three chapters, the authors lay out their motivations for writing the book and set some foundations. Where does bullshit come from? Why is it so difficult to get rid of it? What's the role of internet and social media in the spread of misinformation? The proposed narrative is quite compelling. Even if you don't fully agree that social media had a negative impact o It is a great guide on how to process information in the social media era, and how to avoid being deceived by bullshit. In the first three chapters, the authors lay out their motivations for writing the book and set some foundations. Where does bullshit come from? Why is it so difficult to get rid of it? What's the role of internet and social media in the spread of misinformation? The proposed narrative is quite compelling. Even if you don't fully agree that social media had a negative impact on how we perceive the world, it is difficult not to see the need for education on how to process the sheer amount of information we are exposed to. The middle part explores the main fallacies that can arise when using data to support an argument. The difficult relationship between correlation and causation, selection bias, data visualisation and overfitting are the main themes explored here. As well as giving a great explanation of the basic ideas, the authors manage to explain quite technical concepts, such as Berkson's Paradox and the observation selection effect, in an easy and comprehensible way. Chapter 9 stands out as an outlier, exploring one of the authors academic interests, the "Science of science". How does science works, what are its problems? Why do scientists spend their time catfighting on Twitter and why, nevertheless, science works? The final part is a summary of the presented ideas, and proposes a strategy on how to spot and refute BS, without becoming a "well, actually" guy. While someone with training in quantitative research might not learn much from this book, it is a great resource for the rest of us to deal with a data-driven, information-flooded world. I always thought that studying statistics and probability would equip people with exceptional instruments to process information. It turns out that this book gets you a long way there (even if not completely there, obviously), without a single equation. Also, it's great fun.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Sam

    I'm giving this four stars and probably only skipping the fifth because of the pop title which undercuts the seriousness of the topic, IMO. Logic and Rhetoric have all but disappeared from educational programs when they were once mandated. Misinformation, disinformation and the manipulation of information seem more pervasive since, and I could claim a causal relationship, but would I be correct? It doesn't matter. What matters is that one understands what determines a causal relationship from a I'm giving this four stars and probably only skipping the fifth because of the pop title which undercuts the seriousness of the topic, IMO. Logic and Rhetoric have all but disappeared from educational programs when they were once mandated. Misinformation, disinformation and the manipulation of information seem more pervasive since, and I could claim a causal relationship, but would I be correct? It doesn't matter. What matters is that one understands what determines a causal relationship from a non-causal one and without supporting data my statement is just about as valid as what one gets from many usual sources of information. Bergeron and West have adapted for this book the material from a college course they taught of the same name of the same name at University of Washington in 1917. More about this can be seen at https://www.callingbullshit.org/FAQ.html The book reads like a textbook and is both entertaining and informative. I found this a refresher for what I had already been taught but don't often enough use, but also valuable with new lessons that address data from more recent advances in communication. I wish there were more depth but there is a bibliography for further reading.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Jamad

    My type of book. I needed something after two disappointing Bookers and the start of a third which could go either way. It had me on “Adjusted for currency exchange rates, our top-performing global fund beat the market in seven of the past nine years.” Why don’t more people read what is written? Reminds me of the discussion that there is a significant difference between “died from” and “died with”. Pity the statement “We impose strong social sanctions on liars” isn’t true...seems like we elect them My type of book. I needed something after two disappointing Bookers and the start of a third which could go either way. It had me on “Adjusted for currency exchange rates, our top-performing global fund beat the market in seven of the past nine years.” Why don’t more people read what is written? Reminds me of the discussion that there is a significant difference between “died from” and “died with”. Pity the statement “We impose strong social sanctions on liars” isn’t true...seems like we elect them these days. And finally I learnt about Brandolini’s principle...that alone was worth the book... “Perhaps the most important principle in bullshit studies is Brandolini’s principle. Coined by Italian software engineer Alberto Brandolini in 2014, it states: “The amount of energy needed to refute bullshit is an order of magnitude bigger than [that needed] to produce it.”

  18. 4 out of 5

    Slowjammer

    blah cons - last 2 chapters really weak, almost read as if written by different authors - excluding these very 'filler'-ish last 2 chapters, adjusting for chapter 7 which is really just a bunch of graphs, it's really very short - many of the BS highlighted is of a rather basic kind, not sure if it is even worth discussing pros - tons of really funny anecdotes - chapter 9 on the flaws of the current scientific process was well done and I had to highlight this gem 'Most correlation coefficients lie somewhe blah cons - last 2 chapters really weak, almost read as if written by different authors - excluding these very 'filler'-ish last 2 chapters, adjusting for chapter 7 which is really just a bunch of graphs, it's really very short - many of the BS highlighted is of a rather basic kind, not sure if it is even worth discussing pros - tons of really funny anecdotes - chapter 9 on the flaws of the current scientific process was well done and I had to highlight this gem 'Most correlation coefficients lie somewhere in between 0 and 1, or they are smaller than 0 but bigger than —1.' (after authors earlier writing that the number goes from -1 to 1) [I probably will be categorized as a 'well-actually guy' by the authors for that last comment, but really when you are writing a book about BS, I think you need to be scrutinized at a different level than any other book]

  19. 5 out of 5

    Megan

    I think this book is intensely important, and needs wide readership. I am also personally interested in it because I think responsible data scientists need to understand how data is presented and arguments are made. All that said, this only merits four stars in my opinion. I made this decision primarily because I felt like some of the book was, essentially, bullshit. The chapters on specific mechanisms for analyzing graphics, data, or scientific reports were useful. But there were also chapters o I think this book is intensely important, and needs wide readership. I am also personally interested in it because I think responsible data scientists need to understand how data is presented and arguments are made. All that said, this only merits four stars in my opinion. I made this decision primarily because I felt like some of the book was, essentially, bullshit. The chapters on specific mechanisms for analyzing graphics, data, or scientific reports were useful. But there were also chapters on things like 'what is bullshit', which seemed like a lot of padding. Additionally, while I appreciate not shying away from the term 'bullshit', there seemed to be a puerile delight in repeating the phrase.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Loredana Perri

    This book was what I like to call a "shit sandwich" ... It started off strong, lost me in the middle but redeemed itself at the end. As a natural skeptic and overall critical thinker, this book might not teach you anything you didn't already know or think but I do think the overall message is important and relevant. I felt there were times of rambling and it felt like I was reading my textbook in a lecture back at uni but I appreciated the wittiness and humour the authors bought to the writing s This book was what I like to call a "shit sandwich" ... It started off strong, lost me in the middle but redeemed itself at the end. As a natural skeptic and overall critical thinker, this book might not teach you anything you didn't already know or think but I do think the overall message is important and relevant. I felt there were times of rambling and it felt like I was reading my textbook in a lecture back at uni but I appreciated the wittiness and humour the authors bought to the writing style and their analogies were spot on and engaging. Very focused on how social media is spewing BS left, right and centre and what you should do to 1. Notice it and 2. Call it out (picking your battles with those who aren't too far gone). Skip to the last two chapters for some genuinely great advise on navigating bullshit in this day and age.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Meepspeeps

    I recommend this to anyone who wants to avoid being duped by information that’s intended to “distract, overwhelm, or intimidate them with a blatant disregard for truth, logical coherence, or what information is actually being conveyed.” There are some good recommendations for identifying BS without having to understand advanced statistical methods, including some obvious ways to check infographics for deception (or error). The simple action of pausing to check the source before clicking “retweet I recommend this to anyone who wants to avoid being duped by information that’s intended to “distract, overwhelm, or intimidate them with a blatant disregard for truth, logical coherence, or what information is actually being conveyed.” There are some good recommendations for identifying BS without having to understand advanced statistical methods, including some obvious ways to check infographics for deception (or error). The simple action of pausing to check the source before clicking “retweet” or “share” can help reduce BS by not passing it along in our own social and professional circles. Toward the end there are a few suggestions on how to refute BS without being “a jerk.” Even though the authors use some political examples, the book doesn’t seem skewed in a partisan way.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Phil Simon

    I can think of few more important books to read these days than this one. Yeah, some of the material is old hat to me. By way of background, one of my own books is on data visualization. Beyond that, I've known for years the ways that others contrive graphs and data to further their goals. (Hello Fox News.) No bother. The authors do a fascinating job of synthesizing the problem and offering solutions. I'm not terribly hopeful that we'll prevent others from generating insane levels of bullshit. A I can think of few more important books to read these days than this one. Yeah, some of the material is old hat to me. By way of background, one of my own books is on data visualization. Beyond that, I've known for years the ways that others contrive graphs and data to further their goals. (Hello Fox News.) No bother. The authors do a fascinating job of synthesizing the problem and offering solutions. I'm not terribly hopeful that we'll prevent others from generating insane levels of bullshit. At least we can't claim that the tools don't exist to mitigate its effects. Case in point: Fermi estimation is as valuable as ever. If I were much younger, I'd love taking the authors' course. Since I can't, I'm happy that I read their book instead.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Bankole

    The latest in a well-worn category of books that outlines how things are not as they appear. The good: Great overview of the different ways data can deceive, and people tend to manipulate data to justify their own outcomes. Good approach to dealing with this bullshit and without work. The not-so-good: If you're familiar with the genre, it is repetitive. Also, goes on and on with multiple nuanced examples. This is on me, but I thought it would include some information on how to decide what to inve The latest in a well-worn category of books that outlines how things are not as they appear. The good: Great overview of the different ways data can deceive, and people tend to manipulate data to justify their own outcomes. Good approach to dealing with this bullshit and without work. The not-so-good: If you're familiar with the genre, it is repetitive. Also, goes on and on with multiple nuanced examples. This is on me, but I thought it would include some information on how to decide what to investigate or refute. If we all spend our lives calling out bullshit, we will not get anything else done. I'd recommend as a summary of common biases. Personally, the last chapter on refuting bullshit was the most helpful.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Emma Weaver

    I absolutely loved this book and I really hope that the term "bullshit" is one that I can use more frequently in a legitimate sense.... Hopefully this is a step in the right direction. As a teacher, I am often flabbergasted by the response of teens to social media and the way in which they lap up false information. Although having said that, boomers can be just as bad.... (Some, not all in both regards). Anyway, the point is that this book is a great way of unpacking your suspicions and being more I absolutely loved this book and I really hope that the term "bullshit" is one that I can use more frequently in a legitimate sense.... Hopefully this is a step in the right direction. As a teacher, I am often flabbergasted by the response of teens to social media and the way in which they lap up false information. Although having said that, boomers can be just as bad.... (Some, not all in both regards). Anyway, the point is that this book is a great way of unpacking your suspicions and being more guarded and well informed on such matters. It is such an important time for us to be aware of false information or misinformation, and as such this is a timely read. Enjoy it. If you are in the social sciences, statistics, psychology etc, it will be a good text!

  25. 5 out of 5

    Jack

    There are good things and bad things about this book. The underlying premise is good. For the most part, the illustrations of what qualifies as bullshit are very good. I listened to the audiobook and that was difficult unless I was in an environment where I could read the accompanying PDF while I listened. Definitely not good for a hiking or driving book. The author shows his personal bias by using Fox News , Trump, and a republican congressman as illustrations of bullshit, but I guess that’s ma There are good things and bad things about this book. The underlying premise is good. For the most part, the illustrations of what qualifies as bullshit are very good. I listened to the audiobook and that was difficult unless I was in an environment where I could read the accompanying PDF while I listened. Definitely not good for a hiking or driving book. The author shows his personal bias by using Fox News , Trump, and a republican congressman as illustrations of bullshit, but I guess that’s mandatory for an academic. The book does get a bit too preachy, so I couldn’t give it more than three stars. I’m not sorry I read it, but I can’t recommend it strongly.

  26. 4 out of 5

    David

    With so much data coming at us - statistics, graphics, narratives - it is important to know whether or not we’re consuming bullshit. The authors define bullshit, parse how to detect bullshit, then provide ways to call bullshit out. All very useful and described in a way that might make the reader want to take their class. Parts of the book bog down as the authors get into some esoteric (at least to this reader) statistics. Bottom line: we can all do well by learning how to question the “facts” s With so much data coming at us - statistics, graphics, narratives - it is important to know whether or not we’re consuming bullshit. The authors define bullshit, parse how to detect bullshit, then provide ways to call bullshit out. All very useful and described in a way that might make the reader want to take their class. Parts of the book bog down as the authors get into some esoteric (at least to this reader) statistics. Bottom line: we can all do well by learning how to question the “facts” streaming at us 24/7.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Sam DiBella

    I enjoyed this, and it's definitely a good book for a popular science or social media readers who want to be more skeptical about what they're reading. I also appreciated the attempt to make this a group, societal problem—it's not just your responsibility to "call bullshit" for yourself. I simply didn't find myself moved by the book or its attempts at being open and friendly, however. Oddly, I would've preferred a cold, hard, opinionated manual, than this.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Josiah Lybbert

    The ability to critically evaluate claims made in the media is a learned skill. Many of us acquire this skill through a college education. We learn of concepts such as correlation, selection bias, and the scientific method that help aid in not being duped by bogus media claims. This book does a fantastic job of summing up those concepts, rich with examples, in a way that can help us all be smarter about what we read in the media.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Edd Smith

    A fun rhomp through various kinds off bullshit and how to spot it. While I am sure holes could be poked in some of the arguments put forward. I think the overall message is of great value, and importance. Recommendable reading for those living in an age of social media, and questionable news sources.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Deane Barker

    A good examination of why people spit BS, and how to debunk it. It drifts into a standard list of cognitive fallacies and statistical mistakes somewhere in the middle. But still, it's generally very good. The author makes a point that some people's identity hinges on their BS (like any member of PETA), so they defend it more irrationally and passionately.

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Loading...
We use cookies to give you the best online experience. By using our website you agree to our use of cookies in accordance with our cookie policy.