Scepticism, questioning, and an ever-present gnawing uncertainty whether what Them In Power tell us is the case actually is the case – these are three hallmarks of we three Podnosticators at the Small Data Forum. And these three qualities are all present in abundant spades as we enter our fourth, quarter-century of podcasts in fresh-minted episode 76.
We gather in what the British press term ‘silly season’ – in Germany Sauregurkenzeit (“sour gherkin time”), Thomas tells us – and in the hours before we gathered, President Putin had cried crocodile tears over the mysterious downing of a private jet carrying disgraced Wagner mercenary leader, Yevgeny Prigozhin; a talented man” who “made serious mistakes”, pace Vlad in full-on Marc Antony mode.
And increasingly disgraced former (and future?) President Trump had his mugshot taken (yet another first) at the notorious Fulton County jail, his fourth criminal indictment in a growing litany of disgrace, this one for “just wanting to find 11,780 votes” and gerrymander the 2020 US Election.
Silly season indeed.
Continue reading “The three sceptics of the apocalypse”
The 17th century French moralist François de La Rochefoucald observed in his Maximes: “In the misfortunes of our dearest friends we always find something not wholly displeasing unto us.”
So there was more than just the tang of sweet Schadenfreude in the air during the recording of the latest episode – 63, no less – of the Small Data Forum podcast.
For some of our dearest friends from the past six years of our data-ish ramblechats put in an appearance, like the cast of a mash-up musical all jostling for attention and approbation in light of their latest misdemeanours.
Continue reading “Schadenfreude squared in the land of Big Tech’s woes”
“Donald Trump has absolutely nothing to say. He has no agenda. He has no plan. He has no ideals or hopes or purpose”, according to a post-debate analysis by Jill Filipovic in the Guardian on 23rd October.
One side of the partisan divide agrees vigorously. Watching the unedited 38 minutes of Trump’s 60 Minutes interview with veteran CBS journalist Lesley Stahl that his campaign released – breaking traditions and agreement, as per – you’re most likely to come to the same conclusion if your worldview was formed in that same echo chamber.
Mine was and yes, I struggle to imagine how anyone could watch and not see him merely as a mean-spirited, intellectually incurious and empty bloviator.
And yet. Sam cites the latest Popbitch newsletter which reminds us that, while both betting markets and polling favoured Remain and Clinton in 2016, higher stacks of money were put on Leave (75%) and Trump (68%).
Continue reading “We’re Not in Kansas Anymore”
As the Small Data Forum progresses through its early teenage years – our latest podcast is episode 14 already – regular co-hosts Thomas Stoeckle, Neville Hobson, and Sam Knowles are taking the opportunity to look forward by looking back.
Patients of our own medicine, you might say, we’re using the year end and what we’ve observed and learned in 2017 to enter the predictive analytics business.
We take our inspiration from Janus, the Roman god of beginnings, transitions, and time, after whom January is named. A sculpture of Janus appears at the top of this blog, from the Vatican Museum.
Continue reading “Looking forward by looking back”
Our latest Small Data Forum podcast focuses on recent surprise political outcomes and the mechanisms at play: the psychology of predictions, the new phenomenon of fake news, echo chamber effects and the way data was analysed and interpreted.
Recent expressions of democratic political will – the UK referendum on EU membership, the US presidential election – have surprised most observers and commentators.
Both outcomes, ie Brexit and Trump, were not what most of the polling data indicated. This episode of the Small Data Forum is asking whether we should and could have seen this coming.
Continue reading “04: Brexit, Trump and the challenge of better forecasting with better data”