CHARLES SEIFE ~ PROOFINESS ~ 2010

~ NCBPW-I-SH-PD-BS-A-BM-CM-TMFD-TMOF-ST-TCBUT-BE-T-DC-AT-SD ~ Numbers Can Be Powerful Weapons – In – Skilful Hands – Phony Data – Bogus Statistics – And – Bad Mathematics – Can Make – The Most Fanciful Data – The Most Outrageous Falsehood – Seem True – They Can Be Used To – Bludgeon Enemies – To – Destroy Critics – And To – Squelch Debate

~ P:TAO-UBMATPS-T-YKIYHIT-EWIN ~ Proofiness: The Art Of – Using Bogus Mathematical Arguments To Prove Something – That – You Know In Your Heart Is True – Even When It’s Not

~ OS-IN-AIP-TINLTHAPCB ~ Our Society – Is Now – Awash In Proofiness – There Is No Limit To How Absurd Proofiness Can Be

~ OYKTMPUTTNIF-TAPAY-WYLTSPOOTW-SOTMCTBSAS ~ Once You Know The Methods People Use To Turn Numbers Into Falsehoods – They Are Powerless Against You – When You Learn To Shovel Proofiness Out Of The Way – Some Of The Most Controversial Topics Become Simple And Straightforward

~ IYWTGPTB-S-R-R-S-JSANOI-ETSASPTMTTEINT ~ If You Want To Get People To Believe – Something – Really – Really – Stupid – Just Stick A Number On It – Even The Silliest Absurdities Seem Plausible The Moment That They’re Expressed In Numerical Terms

~ NMH-I-HU-AII-NCGIC ~ No Matter How – Idiotic – How Unbelievable – An Idea Is – Numbers Can Give It Credibility

~ BTANATAN ~ But There Are Numbers And There Are Numbers

~ ORF-IW-AMATGSTI-D-FE-IHTM-POH-TINSTAA-POAH-TCGYADARRAWASIF-PAJ-A-SE

~ One Red Flag – Is When – A Measurement Attempts To Gauge Something That’s Ill-Defined – For Example – It’s Hard To Measure – Pain Or Happiness – There Is No Such Thing As A – Painometer Or A Happyscope – That Can Give You A Direct And Repeatable Reading About What A Subject Is Feeling – Pain And Joy – Are – Subjective Experiences

~ NMHRAI-PIINFMISR-EITIMITA ~ No Matter How Ridiculous An Idea – Putting It Into Numerical Form Makes It Sound Respectable – Even If The Implied Measurement Is Transparently Absurd

~ LADUILC ~ Like Actors Dressed Up In Lab Coats

~ PN-ATMEO-PV-TNFTLLRD-ALI-ETABOOANM-O-TNTTAGMAA-SFFFFAFH ~ Potemkin Numbers – Are The Mathematical Equivalent Of – Potemkin Villages – They’re Numerical Facades That Look Like Real Data – At Least Implicitly – Either They Are Born Out Of A Nonsensical Measurement – Or – They’re Not Tied To A Genuine Measurement At All – Springing Forth Fully Formed From A Fabricator’s Head

~ CP: TCSOD-CTTSTAYWTM-W-UOIDTUI ~ Cherry-Picking: The Careful Selection Of Data – Choosing Those That Support The Argument You Wish To Make – While – Underplaying Or Ignoring Data That Undermine It

~ CATO-WYCTNTSWOBTTO-IITETTUATS-OTCIM-A-OCCBRTTS-BUCBFC-SOTCTMOT ~ Comparing Apples To Oranges – When You Compare Two Numbers To See Which One’s Bigger Than The Other – It’s Important To Ensure That The Units Are The Same – Otherwise The Comparison Is Meaningless – Apple-Orange Comparisons Can Be Really Tough To Spot – Because Units Can Be Fluid Creatures – Some Of Them Change Their Meaning Over Time

~ A-P:TPTFTOD-MTSTAMFTTAA ~ Apple-Polishing: To Put The Finishing Touches On Data – Manipulating Them So They Appear More Favorable Than They Actually Are

~ WHA-IARP-TDTTSP-MA-IT-WGOSPEWTNT ~ We Humans Are – Incredible At Recognizing Patterns – The Downside To This Spectacular Pattern-Matching Ability – Is That – We Go Overboard Seeing Patterns Even When They’re Not There

~ ACIDCCLJLAE ~ A Change In Diagnostic Criteria Can Look Just Like An Epidemic

~ ATWSTTTACISW-OB-LTTCTOTMCTO-IONS-SWMCFEAVV-STHFNAR-JOO-SRC-ITOCTWHHAHTU-I-R ~ Any Time We See Two Things That Are Correlated In Some Way – Our Brains – Leap To The Conclusion That One Thing Must Cause The Other – It’s Often Not So – Sometimes We Mistake Cause For Effect And Vice Versa – Sometimes Things Happen For No Apparent Reason – Just Out Of – Sheer Random Chance – If There’s One Concept That We Humans Have A Hard Time Understanding – It’s – Randomness

~ R:ITTIOWTIOC-CAPWTIN ~ Randumbness: Insisting That There Is Order Where There Is Only Chaos – Creating A Pattern Where There Is None

~ IYT-ARCOD-A-SHE-YSAPOSS ~ If You Take – Any – Random Collection Of Data – And – Squint Hard Enough – You’ll See A Pattern Of Some Sort

~ RAT-WPBAET-WDHAIGOWBATDAWA ~ Risks Are Tricky – We’re Pretty Bad At Estimating Them – We Don’t Have An Internal Gauge Of What Behaviors Are Truly Dangerous And What Aren’t

~ MCIW-CE-MAHRSWT-O-AIRSD ~ Minor Changes In Wording – Can Easily – Make A Huge Risk Seem Worth Taking – Or – An Insignificant Risk Seem Dangerous

~ TSTS-TBTA ~ The Scarier The Story – The Bigger The Audience

~ ER-A-TFTRC-IAPT-STAITMTSBTTA ~ Exaggerating Risk – And – The Fear These Risks Cause – Is A Potent Tool – So There’s An Incentive To Make Threats Seem Bigger Than They Are

~ TGHTSITST-ATCOTOTD-YMOTBMWWUITPOTWCTCITFP-MH-WFGIDFTRIIMTG-VBTH ~ The Government Had To Step In To Save Them – At The Cost Of Trillions Of Taxpayer Dollars – Yet Much Of That Bailout Money Would Wind Up In The Pockets Of Those Who Caused The Crisis In The First Place – Moral Hazard – When Financial Gain Is Divorced From The Risks Involved In Making That Gain – Very Bad Things Happen

~ RW-IA-LON ~ Random Weirdness – Is A – Law Of Nature

~ APCBA-QD-B-TWOTQITS-TCOWIETMN-SP-SSSASTAIAPW ~ A Poll Can Be Affected – Quite Dramatically – By – The Wording Of The Questions In The Survey – The Choice Of Words In Even The Most Neutral-Sounding Phrase – Sometimes Subtly Steers A Subject To Answer In A Particular Way

~ AM-W-A-NO-PSTIKIF-O-AWRDFTT ~ Absolute Malice – When – A – News Organization – Publishes Something That It Knows Is False – Or – Acts With Reckless Disregard For The Truth

~ IP-A-W-Y-SPRMTN ~ Internet Polls – Are – Worthless – Yet – Such Polls Regularly Make The News

~ MAM-PSTBSONOTRTBWCT-WNLHTCITFUTROP-I-WCOLTTOWAAW-WCWIOM-UBTIOD ~ More And More – People Seem To Be Seeking Out News Outlets That Reinforce Their Beliefs Without Challenging Them – We No Longer Have To Confront Ideas That Force Us To Reevaluate Our Positions – Instead – We Can Only Listen To The Ones We Already Agree With – We Can Wallow In Our Myths – Undisturbed By The Inconvenience Of Doubt

~ P-I-T-TA-D-BNHAHOU-TAP-AM-B-WTNRT-IHFUTITANCBMTL ~ Proofiness – Is – Toxic – To A – Democracy – Because Numbers Have A Hold On Us – They Are Powerful – Almost Mystical – Because – We Think That Numbers Represent Truth – It’s Hard For Us To Imagine That A Number Can Be Made To Lie

~ MS-ITOAT-P-A-ODOKWDWWSTPOFAI-IMTMR;ODMWROFBTN ~ Mathematical Sophistication – Is The Only Antidote To – Proofiness – And – Our Degree Of Knowledge Will Determine Whether We Succumb To Proofiness Or Fight Against It – It’s More Than Mere Rhetoric; Our Democracy May Well Rise Or Fall By The Numbers

CHARLES SEIFE ~ VIRTUAL UNREALITY ~ 2014

~ VU ~ Virtual Unreality

~ DIID ~ Digital Information Is Different

~ WWLTTAOOII-BAB-WUAENCUTW-OWP-AD-WODU ~ When We Learned To Turn All Of Our Information Into – Bits And Bytes – We Unleashed An Entirely New Creature Upon The World – One Whose Powers – And Dangers – We Only Dimly Understand

~ TDRHDCNJHWGIATWBAHWCTWTITOAG ~ The Digital Revolution Has Dramatically Changed Not Just How We Gather Information About The World But Also How We Can Tamper With The Information That Others Are Gathering

~ WAOBTOABOTIOTOW-WHADSA-A-TOWIRHWMAMSB ~ We’re Altering Our Behavior Toward One Another Because Of The Influence Of The Online World – We Humans Are Deeply Social Animals – And – The Online World Is Reshaping How We Make And Maintain Social Bonds

~ BIIADTAAOU ~ Bad Information Is A Disease That Affects All Of Us

~ Y-KIIA-D-IE-INSTTWOTM-MLTTWOTM ~ Yet – Knowledge Is Inherently Anti-Democratic – It’s Elitist – It’s Not Subject To The Will Of The Majority – Much Less To The Whims Of The Mob

~ FANLTITU-A-IOTFTTMRTATATMI ~ Facts Are No Less True If They’re Unpopular – And – It’s Often The Facts That The Majority Refuse To Accept That Are The Most Important

~ WAF-K-TCT-ID-TPIHAPEOOPOTW ~ We Are Forcing – Knowledge – To Conform To – Internet Democracy – This Process Is Having A Profound Effect On Our Perception Of The World

~ P-T-HLTIMETCOIB-AWOAW-TB-TTAPOIOW ~ Politicians – Too – Have Learned That It’s Much Easier To Craft One’s Image By – Altering Words On A Webpage – Than By – Trying To Affect Public Opinion In Other Ways

~ TIHPITPO-M-O-A-WBTFUTPI-R ~ The Internet Has Put Immense Time Pressure On – Media – Outlets – And – What’s Beginning To Fail Under The Pressure Is – Reporting

~ PAPVTFWTLFRI ~ People Are Particularly Vulnerable To Fakes When They’re Looking For Romantic Involvement

~ TLOTI ~ The Loneliness Of The Interconnected

~ TMIWFFOUFI-OP-ANOTF-WAWTBWY-ITAO-FTB-YCFSFTBROD ~ The Most Important Weapon For Fighting Off Uncomfortable Facts Is – Other People – A Network Of The Faithful – Who Are Willing To Believe With You – In The Arms Of – Fellow True Believers – You Can Find Solace From The Brutal Reality Of Disconfirmation

~ TCTI-NETCIAUBAFMCAF-CAR-BABOFT ~ Then Came The Internet – Now Even The Craziest Ideas Are Usually But A Few Mouse Clicks Away From – Confirmation And Reinforcement – By A Band Of Fellow Travelers

~ WNADTITTOP-WDOOTI-WWUWIOOFI-RBAUBTM-TNICTBAWUTW;IIBAMTAUTGOUOOB ~ With News And Data That Is Tailored To Our Prejudices – We Deprive Ourselves Of True Information – We Wind Up Wallowing In Our Own False Ideas – Reflected Back At Us By The Media – The News Is Ceasing To Be A Window Unto The World; It Is Becoming A Mirror That Allows Us To Gaze Only Upon Our Own Beliefs

~ IGAPOA-‘P-S’-W-A-WAGIS-IHTGPTPAMFI ~ Informational Goods Are Part Of A – “Post-Scarcity” World – And – When A Good Isn’t Scarce – It’s Hard To Get People To Pay Any Money For It

~ ‘IWTBF’-I-TCCOTIG-B-INFTC-TLTR ~ “Information Wants To Be Free” – Is – The Clarion Call Of The Internet Generation – But – It’s Not Free To Create – Therein Lies The Rub

~ I-1980-IWHBABITMFLATEOAPSJWBE-N-FSJAE ~ In 1980 – It Would Have Been All But Impossible To Masquerade For Long As The Editor Of A Phoney Scientific Journal Without Being Exposed – Nowadays – Fake Scientific Journals Are Everywhere

~ HPP ~ Hollow Potemkin Publications

~ IAVSS-BIH-I-TTFANSINR-AH-B-AA-SR ~ It’s A Very Subtle Shift – But It’s Happening – Increasingly – The Target For A News Story Is Not Really – A Human – But – An Algorithm – Search Rankings

~ RAETW ~ Rankings Are Easily Tinkered With

~ AU ~ Artificial Unintelligence

~ J18WAB ~ Jennifer18 Was A Bimbot

~ AWT-SOITUIFTPIMF-STITTTHSWI ~ As With All Technology – Step One Is To Use It For The Purpose It’s Meant For – Step Two Is To Try To Have Sex With It

~ BS ~ Bacon Specialist

~ MMF ~ Make Money Fast

~ IWT-‘J’-S-W-FS-W-BI ~ Information Warfare Technique – “Jamming” – Swamping – With – False Signals – With – Bogus Information

~ DIGPTTP-B-IGEMTTWPUU ~ Digital Information Gives Power To The People – But – It Gives Even More To Those Who Prey Upon Us

~ IMWWETMT-ROP-WHTCOBIHOGMA-MI-MIR-TAOCUTS ~ In Many Ways We’re Easier To Manipulate Than – Rats Or Pigeons – We’re Happy To Change Our Behavior In Hopes Of Getting More Abstract – More Insubstantial – More Infrequent Rewards – Than Any Other Creature Under The Sun

~ PAMTIAVF ~ Performing A Mindless Task In A Virtual Fishbowl

~ SPCCPT-AATBJ-DTM-AE-MF ~ Social Pressure Can Cause People To – Act Against Their Better Judgement – Discard Their Morals – And Even – Misperceive Facts

~ GU-V-T-M-O-I-IRFLONAA ~ Giving Up – Valuable – Time – Money – Or – Information – In Return For Little Or Nothing At All

~ IIV-A-TGIUTITAAYOI ~ Information Is Valuable – And – To Give It Up Thoughtlessly Is To Act Against Your Own Interest

~ YMWDTYMHBSYOS-I-IAIW-TBACE-A-IITS-ATWCOATCOOOB-DTPTATTUUFTOP ~ You Might Well Discover That You Might Have Been Sacrificing Your Own Self-Interest – In Almost Imperceptible Ways – To Benefit A Commercial Enterprise – And – It Is Through Self-Awareness That We Can Once Again Take Control Of Our Own Brains – Despite The Parasites That Are Trying To Use Us For Their Own Purposes

~ IWWTBATTWRAWN-WMLTSTTHOVUTSAU ~ If We Want To Be Able To Tell What’s Real And What’s Not – We Must Learn To See Through The Haze Of Virtual Unreality That’s Settling Around Us

~ A-OIS-TTTOP-TMETCTROEBASOOTCU ~ As – Our Information Sources – Tailor Themselves To Our Prejudices – This Means Eschewing The Chatter That Reinforces Our Preexisting Beliefs And Seeking Out Ones That Challenge Us