Home > Uncategorized > Excerpt of my book in the Guardian!

Excerpt of my book in the Guardian!

September 1, 2016

Wow, people, an excerpt of my book has been published in the Guardian this morning. How exciting is this? I hope you like it, it’s got a fancy graphic:

Screen Shot 2016-09-01 at 7.25.04 AM.png

This is the result of my amazing Random House UK publicity team, who have been busy promoting my book in the UK.

That same team is bringing me to London at the end of September for a book tour, and as part of that I’m excited to announce I’ll be at the How To: Academy on September 27th, talking about my book, which was Tickets are available here.

Also, if you haven’t gotten enough of Weapons of Math Destruction this morning, take a look at Evelyn Lamb’s review in Scientific American.

Update: the print edition of the Guardian also looks smashing:

Cover photo

Double spread photo

Categories: Uncategorized
  1. September 1, 2016 at 9:22 am

    Keep it going…I’ve tweeted about the book a few times and it’s getting worse out there too. I focus on healthcare and these WMDs are being used in pharmacy benefit management like you can’t believe. The math is flawed and pharmacists are being forced (to keep their jobs) to promote statins to those who are diabetic with now having to send letters to patients, and again this is based on flawed so called adherence predictions on taking meds. It’s the wrong way to promote drug sales and always make the patient look like the loser, whether they are or not.


  2. September 1, 2016 at 10:51 am

    Hi. Nice article and I intend to get and read the book when things calm down a little in my work life. I just have two comments, one that is entirely in line with what you have said, and one which is a mild critique of your understanding of the personality questionnaires now being used by certain companies.

    First, I agree entirely that the “decision rule” to cut down the number of “viable” candidates based on various metrics should not be automated. Awful practice.

    Second, and where I would disagree with you, is in the merits of the “discrete choice” based personality statements (so you *have* to agree with one of several not very nice traits). This is not, in fact, psychometrics. It is an application of Thurstone’s *other* big contribution to applied statistics, random utility theory, which is most definitely a theory of the individual subject (unlike psychometrics which uses between-subject differences to make inferences).

    I think you may be unaware that if an appropriate statistical design is used to present these (typically best-worst scaling) personality-trait data then the researcher obtains ratio scaled (probabilistic) inferences which must, by definition be comparable across people and allow you to separate people on *relative* degrees of (say) the big 5. Thus why they can’t be gamed, and why I know of a bank that sailed through the global financial crisis by using these techniques to ensure a robust spread of individuals with differing relative strengths.

    If two people genuinely are the same on two less-attractive personality traits then the results will show their relative frequencies of choice to be equal, and those traits will have also competed against other traits elsewhere in the survey (and probably appear “low down” on the latent scale). So there’s nothing intrinsically “wrong” with a personality survey using these methods (see work by Lee Soutar and Louviere who operationalised it for Schwartz’z values survey) – indeed there is lots to commend it over the frankly awful psychometric paradigm of old.

    I would simply refer back to my first point (where we agree) and say that the interpretation of the data is an art, not a science, and why people like me get work in interpreting these data. Incidentally and on that subject, I can relate to the own-textbook-buzz, mine came out last year. Smart companies already know how to collect the right data, they just realise they can’t put the results through an algorithm.


  3. September 1, 2016 at 11:35 am

    just got a rare 40%-off coupon from Barnes & Noble good for the Labor Day weekend… so if they have it in stock maybe by Mon. I’ll have it


    • September 1, 2016 at 11:37 am

      I think it goes on sale Tuesday.


      • September 1, 2016 at 1:45 pm

        PARTY-POOPER!! (…actually, B/N usually has new books in stock ahead of “official” release dates)


  4. mathematrucker
    September 1, 2016 at 11:48 am

    Very cool! For the record I recently notified a national trucking organization (Owner Operator Independent Drivers Association, or OOIDA) of your book’s upcoming launch. The reason is they are currently fighting a major legal battle against the federal government over what I call “algorithms run amok” imposed on truck drivers. Actually it’s over a recent federal mandate that electronic logging devices be installed in all trucks, but I consider the underlying root of this dispute to be the “algorithms” (hours-of-service regulations) that these devices are programmed to adhere to.

    Lastly I can’t help but comment on that last graphic above. Whenever I see anything like what’s depicted in it, I’m always reminded of a great exhibit that was on display in Seattle’s Pacific Science Center back in the 1970s. Here’s how one website (barely) describes it: “Upstairs, a giant normal curve Pachinko machine would ring an alarm before emptying out its balls.”

    The machine’s design was very simple: one on side a narrow conveyor would lift what must have been at least five thousand large brown marbles (they looked exactly like Malted Milk Balls) up into a region at the top that resembles the graphic. Once all the marbles were in place, a very loud alarm bell would ring and the gate would open, letting all of them drop down into a huge lattice that randomized their descent into a row of many tall, narrow troughs at the bottom. A giant normal curve was painted on the glass in front of the troughs. Without fail, after all the marbles finally dropped down—must have taken at least ten minutes—their distribution always closely matched the normal curve.

    The exhibit was a really clever way to put the central limit theorem on display for public consumption. Wish there were some photos available but I didn’t find any.


    • September 1, 2016 at 12:35 pm

      Hey that was/ is also in the Boston Science Museum! Loved that as a kid.


      • mathematrucker
        September 1, 2016 at 12:38 pm

        Me too!


  5. September 1, 2016 at 11:59 am

    Great to see it in print and all the fine coverage!


  6. crocodilechuck
    September 1, 2016 at 8:23 pm

    That Guardian excerpt was outstanding. Just ordered the book!


  7. September 2, 2016 at 12:35 am

    Why o why! What pleasure do publishers get by not making these books available worldwide even when they are available on the kindle?? How can I read your book? Help?


    • September 2, 2016 at 12:34 pm

      It’s not out till next Tuesday.


      • September 2, 2016 at 9:12 pm

        Are you saying it will be available worldwide starting Tuesday? I already see it listed on Amazon.com but not in Amazon.in.


  8. Linda Kent
    September 6, 2016 at 12:45 pm

    How cool! I read the Guardian all the time and had just bookmarked that page! We met in Harvard Square during Occupy Boston. That’s when I got on your mailing list. Thanks!


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