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This week the library added an interesting new book to the collection that shows how information gathered by studying internet use can tell a great deal about how people really feel.
Everybody Lies: Big Data, New Data, and What the Internet Can Tell Us About Who We Really Are is written by Seth Stephens-Davidowitz, a Harvard-trained economist, former Google data scientist, and New York Times writer. He argues that much of what we think about people is wrong because almost everyone will lie on things like surveys. He says that what they do on the internet is much more valuable in determining what they really think. Every time we do an internet search or click on an ad or link, it tells researchers something about us. And because we think that we are doing this in private, we are more likely to divulge our true feelings and thoughts. Scientists and researchers are able to use this information to analyze people’s views on all sorts of topics from religion and politics to what types of things they really enjoy.
The author says that studying data like this is a whole new way of studying the human mind. He uses personal anecdotes and stories, along with the results of actual studies that have yielded surprising results. He says that there is almost no limit to what can be learned about human nature from this data and it will change the way we view the world.