Jevin D. West, Carl T. Bergstrom
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A DAILY TELEGRAPH BOOK OF THE YEAR 2020
‘A modern classic. . . leaves the reader feeling a very particular kind of smarter: the empowered kind’ Wired
We think we know bullshit when we hear it, but do we?
Two science professors give us the tools to dismantle misinformation and think clearly in a world of fake news and bad data
Politicians are unconstrained by facts. Science is conducted by press release. Start-up culture elevates hype to high art. The world is awash in bullshit, and we’re drowning in it.
Based on a popular course at the University of Washington, this book gives us the tools to see through the obfuscations, deliberate and careless, that dominate every realm of our lives. In this lively, provocative guide, biologist Carl Bergstrom and data scientist Jevin West show that calling out nonsense is crucial to a properly functioning social group, whether it be a circle of friends, a community of researchers, or the citizens of a nation.
Through six rules of thumb, they help us to recognize when numbers are being manipulated, to cut through the crap wherever we encounter it – even within ourselves – and learn how to give the real facts to a crystal-loving friend or climate change denier uncle.
Calling Bullshit is an indispensable handbook to the art of scepticism.
A field guide to the art of critical thinking. . . It should be required reading for high school and university students as well as for any thinking person who is working to identify questionable news sources and stories, and navigate their way around social media in these weird times * Forbes * Takes the reader behind the carefully drawn curtain of disinformation artists, politicians and advertisers ... West and Bergstrom excel in training readers in the practice of spotting BS. It's a bootcamp * E & T Magazine * A helpful guide to navigating a world full of doubtful claims based on spurious data. Using clever anecdotes, nods to online culture and allusions to ancient philosophy, the book tells ordinary readers how to spot nonsense-even if they are not numerical whizzes * The Economist * If you want to read what will surely be a classic, buy Calling Bullshit. It addresses the most important issue of our time: the decline in respect for Truth. It is also a literary masterpiece. Every page -- indeed, every paragraph -- is a new bit of fun -- George Akerlof, Nobel Laureate I laughed, I cried -- to read Bergstrom and West's great examples of 'bullshit.' This is a gripping read for anybody who cares about how we are fooled (and how not to be), and the connection to numeracy and science. But it's also just great fun. This is a necessary book for our times -- Saul Perlmutter, Nobel Laureate The information landscape is strewn with quantitative cowflop; read this book if you want to know where not to step -- Jordan Ellenberg, author of How Not to be Wrong If I could make this critical handbook's contents required curriculum for every high school student (thus replacing trigonometry), then I would do so. I highly recommend Calling Bullshit for our modern existence in the age of misinformation, and regret only that I didn't think of the title for my own book -- Cathy O'Neil, author of Weapons of Math Destruction Each of us now swims through deception so pervasive that we no longer realize it's there. Calling Bullshit presents a master class in how to spot it, how to resist it, and how to keep it from succeeding -- Paul Romer, Nobel Laureate Essential reading. Even if you feel you can trudge through verbal bullsh!t easily enough, this book will give you the tools to swim through numerical snake-oil. . . I was given a fleeting, dizzying reminder of what it once felt like to be a free agent in a factual world -- Simon Ings * The Telegraph * A modern classic that is troubling in some places, sobering in others, and enlightening from beginning to end. . . Bergstrom and West leave the reader feeling a very particular kind of smarter: the empowered kind. . . Calling Bullshit explains everyday quirks like Gladwell's Blink does, but it both demands and offers more than anything in the Gladwellian tradition. It works anywhere, for anyone: the academic, the citizen-scientist, citizen-skeptic, and citizen-curious * Wired *
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