PhD Course - Overcoming bias and calling bullshit in the age of big data
- Professor Thore Husfeldt
- Anders McIlquham-Schmidt
Dates of the course:
October 4th – December 6th (Week 40-49)
TBD (Online or On-premises (ITU). Depending on participants)
The course is the ITU equivalent of the “Calling Bullshit” course by Carl Bergstrom and Jevin West at University of Washington. The full course description for Bergstrom and West’s course can be found at: https://www.callingbullshit.org/syllabus.html. We will follow essentially the same schedule and reading material.
The reading material covers different aspects of bias and bullshit in various settings: social/news media, misleading/non-representative data, visual representations of data, conclusions based on machine learning/algorithms, publication bias etc. See the program for a more elaborate description of the topics.
As phrased by Bergstrom and West: Our aim in this course is to teach you how to think critically about the data and models that constitute evidence in the social and natural sciences.
Our learning objectives are straightforward. After taking the course, you should be able to
- Remain vigilant for bias and bullshit contaminating your information diet.
- Recognize bias whenever and wherever you encounter it.
- Recognize said bullshit whenever and wherever you encounter it.
- Figure out for yourself precisely why a particular bit of bullshit is bullshit.
- Provide a statistician or fellow scientist with a technical explanation of why a claim is biased or bullshit.
We will be astonished if these skills do not turn out to be among the most useful and most broadly applicable of those that you acquire during the course of your college education.
- “Calling Bullshit: The art of scepticism in a data-driven world” (CB) (Bergstrom & West, Random House)
Selected chapters from
- “Not Born Yesterday” (NBY) (Mercier, Princeton)
- “Weapons of Math Destruction” (WMD) (O’Neill, Crown).
- “Thinking, Fast and Slow” (TFS) (Kahneman, Brockman)
- videos from the course “Calling Bullshit” at University of Washington (see this link) and other relevant videos from youtube
Selection from articles below
1 weekly meeting for 10 weeks. Each participant should give a short presentation of a chapter and/or article(s) during the course. The presentation is followed by a discussion in plenum.
Active participation and presentation. Three-page essay on “Overcoming bias and calling bullshit in the age of big data” of your own choice.
Amount of hours the student is expected to use on the course:
Participation: 10 hours
Preparation + exam: 55 hours
10-15 mainly PhD students from ITU and other universities but also accessible for other interested persons.
How to sign up:
Send an email to Anders McIlquham-Schmidt to email@example.com