Delve into danger


If the age of the internet has taught us anything, it is that there is a big difference between appearance and reality. Seth Stephens-Davidowitz unpacks the surprising differences between what we tell everyone else, and what we tell Google (and the rest of the internet). Our sexual behaviour, our real attitudes to race, our most profound anxieties are very different to what we say. It turns out that we all broadcast our own fake news. Until now. Big data is exposing the truth about our lies. Is this the dawn of a new understanding of who we are as human beings? Will we be able to bear the truth?

Chaired by Ann Mossop, FODI Co-curator and UNSW Centre for Ideas Director.



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Dangerous Thinkers
“Facebook does more experiments in a single day that the FDA does in an entire year.”

Seth Stephens-Davidowitz is a New York Times op-ed contributor, a visiting lecturer at The Wharton School, and a former Google data scientist. He received a BA in philosophy from Stanford, where he graduated Phi Beta Kappa, and a PhD in economics from Harvard. His research – which uses new, big data sources to uncover hidden behaviours and attitudes – has appeared in the Journal of Public Economics and other prestigious publications. His latest book, Everybody Lies, was described by The Economist as “a whirlwind tour of the modern human psyche using search data as its guide”. He lives in New York City. 


“Facebook does more experiments in a single day that the FDA does in an entire year.”