Calling Bullshit: The Art of Skepticism in a Data-Driven World (Penguin Random House, 2020) is a much-needed guide for folks awash in numbers who are just trying to make informed decisions. Anyone working or advocating in transportation should read it.
The preface begins with a definition of bullshit and a discussion of its different types. The authors, Carl T. Bergstrom and Jevin D. West, a biologist and a data scientist at the University of Washington, distinguish between old-school and new-school bullshit. Their book focusses on the new-school type which “uses the language of math and science and statistics to create the impression of rigor and accuracy,” and they introduce the concept of “mathiness,” their analog to comedian Stephen Colbert’s “truthiness.” Mathiness refers “to formulas and expressions that may look and feel like math—even as they disregard the logical coherence and formal rigor of actual mathematics.”
Each chapter guides the reader through topics like causality, selection bias, data visualization, and big data, with examples from contemporary news. The result is a topical, fast-paced and laugh-out-loud funny book.
If you’ve heard of me around town as Bicycle Kitty, recall my Forest Park commute back in 2012, or read my articles here on BikePortland, you know I’m not new to being a bike geek. My journey through the bike industry has included roles like managing a bicycle tire outlet store, planning and leading rides, hosting flat repair clinics, maintaining e-commerce sites, fitting and training children on bicycles, and now, chain lube!
At an online meeting next week hosted by local activism group Bike Loud PDX you’ll get the chance to hear from a leading expert on the connection between America’s pervasive car culture and a startling rise in deaths of vulnerable road users.
Angie Schmitt’s new book, Right of Way: Race, Class, and the Silent Epidemic of Pedestrian Deaths in America (Island Press), is due to come out on August 27th and has already received an excellent review from Kirkus (a big deal in the publishing world).
In the book, Schmitt breaks down the policies and products that have contributed to a 50% rise in pedestrian deaths in the last decade.[Read more…]
Remember the Truck Trike?
It was almost 10 years ago when we first introduced you to this Portland-made, Portland-desinged, bike lane legal, electric-assisted bicycle that can haul up to 600 pounds of cargo. Bill Stites (Stites Design) has evolved his product considerably since then. When we last heard from him a year ago his trikes were being tested by UPS in a last-mile delivery pilot project up in Seattle.