Reducing Information Pollution
The past year was a somber one for democracies around the world, as distaste for political institutions and political elites reached a breaking point. Brexit triumphed over common sense, and united defense, in England. Extreme right-wing politicians continued their march to power in continental Europe. And the U.S. Electoral College victory of Donald Trump secured the election of a populist demagogue who openly criticizes the democratic system.
This is FRESH AIR. I’m Dave Davies in for Terry Gross. So do you remember reading that Hillary Clinton paid Jay Z and Beyonce $62 million dollars for performing at a rally in Cleveland before the election? You might have, but the story is false, one of many posted on hyper-partisan websites and spread by aggressive social media campaigns during the presidential election.
In 1999 a pair of researchers published a paper called “Unskilled and Unaware of It: How Difficulties in Recognizing One’s Own Incompetence Lead to Inflated Self-Assessments (PDF).” David Dunning and Justin Kruger (both at Cornell University’s Department of Psychology at the time) conducted a series of four studies showing that, in certain cases, people who are very bad at something think they are actually pretty good. They showed that to assess your own expertise at something, you need to have a certain amount of expertise already.
There’s no doubt about it. As Opposition Leader Jamie Fox suggests, Premier Wade MacLauchlan is trying to confuse the issue about deleted e-mail accounts relating to the e-gaming controversy
In a year-end interview, the premier suggested he might release the names of 2,500 former public servants whose email accounts were retired when they left the public service since 2007.
The premier hinted that since the Opposition kept harping about missing emails, its wish might just come true, but not quite what it expected.
Eric Tucker, a 35-year-old co-founder of a marketing company in Austin, Tex., had just about 40 Twitter followers. But his recent tweet about paid protesters being bused to demonstrations against President-elect Donald J. Trump fueled a nationwide conspiracy theory — one that Mr. Trump joined in promoting.
We all know the drill: There is a guaranteed consequence for not telling the truth. We have learned this early on in the popular parlor game that has kept us entertained at parties and get-togethers during our younger years. And even back then, there were occasions when we intentionally opted for the consequence, no matter how ridiculously difficult it was, because truth has its way of making us uncomfortable.
It was a rough night for number crunchers. And for the faith that people in every field — business, politics, sports and academia — have increasingly placed in the power of data.
Donald J. Trump’s victory ran counter to almost every major forecast — undercutting the belief that analyzing reams of data can accurately predict events. Voters demonstrated how much predictive analytics, and election forecasting in particular, remains a young science: Some people may have been misled into thinking Hillary Clinton’s win was assured because some of the forecasts lacked context explaining potentially wide margins of error.