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  • Profile photo of nmw

    nmw 18:49:07 on 2016/06/25 Permalink
    Tags: , , , , , , citation analysis, , , , , few, , , , , , , , many, , , sample, sampling, , statistic, ,   

    Don’t Listen to One Single Piece of Good Advice — Listen to Many 

    Several months ago, I mentioned on one of my other blogs that I enjoy listening to Gretchen Rubin’s „Happier“ podcast. I still do, even though I think content sponsored by advertising is by and large fake.

    Recently, Gretchen (and Elizabeth) asked her (their) listeners what the best piece of advice was that they ever got. I responded (they asked for people to phone in their comments – I think my remarks may have arrived a little too late for episode 70, but perhaps they might appear in episode 71(?).

    This was the gist of my message: Don’t Listen to One Single Piece of Good Advice — Listen to Many!

    This is also something Jason Calacanis mentioned in a recent episode of his „This Week in Startups“ podcast, but I can’t remember which one – that you should never rely on just one source of information. I remember thinking as I listened to Jason (and of course I had heard such advice decades before from many of my school teachers): „does that mean if you search for information you will not only listen to Google?“ Stange as it may seem, my hunch is that for the vast majority of the population, this is not the case. Indeed, my experience has been that most people will only search for information using Google’s algorithms – if they do not see anything that appeals to them via Google, they will assume that no such thing exists.

    Incidentally, there is also another kind of parochialism that I feel is closely related to this fanatical belief in Google’s scoring algorithm. In a recent episode published by HBR’s „Ideacast” podcast, Todd Rose was interviewed about a book he had recently written (” The End of Average: How to Succeed in a World That Values Sameness”) about measurement and statistics. His argument echoes something I have long held to be true (and I think I recall that one of my comments regarding this matter also appeared on a German radio program – perhaps 5 or more years ago).

    Oddly, Google fan-boys (and fan-girls, too, of course) often overlook the fact that Google also ranks results according to such „cooked“ statistics. In fact the situation is even worse: when Google calculates its metrics for websites, then those metrics are applied regardless of how relevant they are (or aren’t). So while SAT scores attempt to measure both mathematical ability and verbal ability, Google’s statistical measurement for quality (which was shown to be totally bogus decades ago) is applied whether or not the source is reliable for the search query. It is essentially a „one-size fits-all“ metric (which also happens to be totally unreliable). Yet very few people really care, because most people use Google mainly to search for domain names anyways (in other words: they „search“ for ebay because they are too lazy to type in ebay.com. I bet if people stopped doing that, then the reduction in energy required might actually reduce global warming significantly! 😉

  • Profile photo of nmw

    nmw 16:58:00 on 2016/06/13 Permalink
    Tags: , , , , , celeb, celebrities, , celebs, , dictators, , , , , , , , , , mesmerization, mesmerize, mesmerized, , politician, politicians, , , , , , , statistic, , , , , ,   

    The Big Data Rationality of Large Numbers: Quantitative Statistics + Fanatical Delusions 

    There are virtually innumerable fans of so-called „big data“. Countless fanatics of this quasi-scientific method will swear on a stack of bibles that if you count anything – it really doesn’t matter what, as that minute detail will certainly „emerge“ from the data itself – you will be rewarded with insights beyond your wildest dreams. Such descendents of bean-counters from previous centuries have moved on to grains of sand, dust particles, the colors of a beautiful sunset, whatever.

    These people may strongly believe in science – without actually understanding much about scientific methods.

    There seems to be a link between such lacking understanding and fanaticism. Let’s go back to one of the greatest leaders of fanatical movements ever: Adolf Hitler was probably one of the most (if not even the most) quintessial dictators of all times. I think what many people overlook, though, in this example is not that he was able to mesmerize such humungous masses, but rather how the masses let themselves become mesmerized.

    Fans follow leaders (perhaps they should instead watch the parking meters 😉 ). There is a sort of quirky rationality to this behavior: When fans follow their leader, they apparently feel they no longer have to think themselves… – they simply accept whatever their leader says (i.e., dictates). This saves energy, because thinking can be quite difficult. Not thinking is easier than thinking.

    The important takeaway is this: If people feel able to let someone else do the thinking, they seem very willing to do so. One way they feel able to enable a dictator to think for them is if / when other people seem to approve of the dictator. Other people’s approval of a dictator seems to make it „OK“ to let the dictator do as he / she pleases… – whether the dictator is a politician, a celebrity, a brand name, or anything anyone happens to be a fan (i.e., a fanatical follower) of.

    When popular brand names such as Google or Facebook sell „big data“, of course they tell naive and innocent consumers a story about how important big data is in order for consumers to be able to find leaders. What they don’t tell such consumers (as those people who are willing to believe this story) is that the „big data“ plans are actually all about tracking consumer behavior. What they don’t tell advertisers is that the consumer behavior they track actually isn’t actually a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow, but merely a fanatical delusion hardly worth any more than a single grain of sand.

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    feedwordpress 08:44:55 on 2013/03/14 Permalink
    Tags: , economcs, , GDP, GNP, , , , , statistic,   

    The Universe is Not Expanding, Some People’s Perception, Sensitivity, Knowledge and Intelligence are Simply Decreasing 

    There are several recurrent themes in my writing that I try to explicate time and time again, but which I simply cannot seem to get across very well — or maybe I am simply trying to affront a tidal wave of ignorance with little more than a teacup and a lot of wishful thinking. A prime example of this is my (apparently futile) attempt to get people (like Paul Krugman) to understand that employment doesn’t matter.

    Well, now Adam Kleinberg has written what I consider to be a very articulate and eloquent critique of “growth” — here is an excerpt (but please go ahead and click through to the source):

    Then why do most just rely on growth? Well, for one, it works really well to justify executive bonuses. But a less cynical view is that it’s simply a clear and easy thing to measure. And therein lies the rub.

  • Profile photo of feedwordpress

    feedwordpress 10:08:07 on 2013/03/04 Permalink
    Tags: , , , conceptual, , , idealisitic, , , , , , , math, , , , , , , , , , , , , statistic, , , stereotype, stereotypes, stereotypical, ,   

    Everything I Feel is Related to Nothing at All 

    Some people — especially creative people — are able to think of ideas. Some of you may have thought of an idea recently, or perhaps you are thinking of an idea now, or maybe you will you think of an idea soon. That is cool — there’s nothing wrong with thinking an idea, any idea, really.

    Ideas are not really dependent on language. After you have thought of many ideas, people tend to give them names — such as daytime, nighttime, yesterday, today, tomorrow, happy, sad, hungry, tired, bored, whatever. The reason we do this, most of all, is simply to communicate the ideas we “have” in our heads. Yet the words we use are imperfect, because the stereotypical concepts do not the do the specific ideas we have right now, at this very moment, justice. We use the words simply because they are “good enough” — because there is no better way to give an impression of the unique idea that we have right now (indeed, if there were, then the idea would no longer be unique).

    There are similar examples of this way of looking at things. For example, I say God (if such a thing exists) does not use numbers / mathematics — because for something “all-knowing”, there are no multiple cases of anything: Everything is unique. Likewise, a baby babbling speaks much more eloquently than an adult who only forces each unique insight into uniform, standardized, “grammatically correct” pigeon holes. And here’s another similar bubble for me to burst: There is no evidence that gravity and/or any so-called “scientific laws” (e.g. of physics) existed X millions of years ago, or that they will continue to exist for another X million years. If we observe that things change, we just change the so-called “laws” — e.g. the salinity of the oceans have changed, so we simply change the books.

    So when I crack a book because I want to read it, that doesn’t mean anything else at all. If you tell me that many people also read another book, then — well, I just don’t care, thank you very much. This or that link has been clicked a thousand times? To be honest: I couldn’t care less! ;)

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