Celebrating the Social Data Science Program at UMD with Dr. Jevin West
Event Start Date: Wednesday, March 30, 2022 - 3:00 pm
Event End Date: Wednesday, March 30, 2022 - 5:00 pm
The Art of Skepticism in a Data-Driven World
Today’s world is more thoroughly quantified than ever before. We are awash in numbers, statistics, figures, algorithms, and data graphics. Quantitative information is power: it is used to convey objectivity, to strengthen arguments, and to inform decisions—and all too oftenit is used to impress, overwhelm, and persuade without any conviction to truth. Fortunately, one doesn’t need an advanced degree in data science (although quite helpful) to see through the vast majority of quantitative misinformation. Drawing on examples from current events of misleading claims and misuses of artificial intelligence, this talk aims to empower data scientists and the everyday information consumer to push back when confronted by numerical arguments and data-hungry technologies. By focusing attention on the data sources and their weaknesses, rather than on the complex and often obscure algorithms and statistical procedures, we can see through the hype and hold our own against those selling quantitative snake-oil.
Jevin West is an Associate Professor in the Information School at the University of Washington. He is the co-founder of the new Center for an Informed Public at UW aimed at resisting strategic misinformation, promoting an informed society and strengthening democratic discourse. He is also the co-founder of the DataLab at UW, a Data Science Fellow at the eScience Institute, and Affiliate Faculty for the Center for Statistics & Social Sciences. His research and teaching focus on the impact of data and technology on science and society, with a focus on slowing the spread of misinformation. He is the co-author of the new book, Calling Bullshit: The Art of Skepticism in a Data-Driven World, which helps non-experts question numbers, data, and statistics without an advanced degree in data science.