Ezzat Goushegir (on Writing)

“My heart never feels as connected to life as when I am writing. In writing, I find my freedom, a freedom that is absolute, a freedom I have never found in any other activity. In writing, I find myself and begin to know others. It is in writing that I think of causes and effects, and I search for answers to my questions. And, sometimes, I don’t even search, because sometimes it doesn’t matter, and…

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The Burnout Society (Byung-Chul Han)

I think it was sometime during the summer of 2018 that my friend Peter Limberg gave me a copy of the Agony of Eros. That was my introduction to Byung-Chul Han. Han is an aphoristic philosopher, carrying the influence of Nietzsche quite visibly. He engages with cultural and social topics in a way that is timely, counter-intuitive, counter-comfort, and counter-status quo. I’ve been considering a systematic–and somewhat exhaustive–review of his works published in English. This…

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book review Culture Data Science

Review of ‘the Tyranny of Metrics’ by Jerry Z. Muller

Among the books I have recently borrowed from the library, Jerry Muller’s (2018) book, the Tyranny of Metrics, has been the one I’d like to purchase a copy of and keep at hand for future reference. Muller is a historian who has written books on Adam Smith, various aspects of capitalism, and the history of conservative political thought. The initial seed for the Tyranny of Metrics, he writes in the introduction, was a series of…

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book review Data Science

On ‘Weapons of Math Destruction’ (by Cathy O’Neil) Book Review

O’Neil’s book offers a wide-ranging and alarming critique of Big Data technology, profit- and efficiency-driven algorithms. The title and the central concept in the book, Weapons of Math Destruction (WMDs), refers to prediction models that inform decisions at large scale and damage the well-being of many people subjected to them. They include models that categorize, track, screen, and managing “potential” criminals, contingent workers (especially minimum-wage workers), job and loan applicants, and insurance premiums. What makes…

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book review Statistics

Thoughts on ‘Naked Statistics’ (by Charles Wheelan)

Let’s begin this post with a comment by Chris Schuck on my recent video about The Data Detective by Tim Harford. Chris wrote: Some of the books in this genre look really great, but I was also thinking about how these statistical/quant critical thinking analyses are often at their most effective when placed in the context of a specific debate or social problem, often by attentive journalists. Zeynep Tufekci’s writing on the pandemic these past…

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