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Twitter sucks, and people are gullible as f…

Hey, and I did it in less than 140 characters! The above was my response to this item which David Hogg forwarded to me.

The next thing you know, people are going to claim that women are three times as likely to wear red pink when . . . Naaah, forget about it, that would never happen.

Hmmm, I think the above is not so savvy of me, to just go around insulting a whole bunch of people. So let me just say that becoming numerate is not as easy as it might seem. All of us can be gullible in areas outside of our expertise. Indeed, I’ve fallen for the occasional April Fool’s gag myself.

And, maybe it’s not really right for me to say that “Twitter sucks.” Sure, the downside of Twitter is that people can just pass along a silly joke, not realizing it’s a joke at all. But the upside is, I hope, that once people have committed themselves and then realize they were mistaken, they’ll think harder the next time they see something like that.

I hope the same thing goes with the “women wearing red pink” study and all the others of that type. It’s too bad that people got sucked in by those sorts of silly claims, but maybe they’ll be more careful next time.

6 Comments

  1. jonathan says:

    We live in a world in which people claim evolution is false because chimpanzees aren’t turning into people. It’s hard to draw the line between joke, ignorance, intentional ignorance, the blind spreading of ignorance, lies, damned lies and … what was that last one?

  2. IME the upside of Twitter is larger than the downside.

  3. Isn’t the rule that “as long as you belong to class X, you can insult members of class X”? Given that you even Twittered this post, I think you’re good to go.

    But watch your language, children may be listening! Redact that “sucks” and replace with “bummer.” But then I may tell them that “bum” means “butt” in the UK, and you’re back in hot water.

  4. Abhimanyu Arora says:

    Perhaps the solution could come from the market too? If insurance companies increase the premium for virgos, the latter would increase tweeting Prof. Gelman’s blog posts and then twitter would be your best friend. At the time of my comment this post has already been directly tweeted 12 times…

  5. Noah Motion says:

    And, maybe it’s not really right for me to say that “Twitter sucks.” Sure, the downside of Twitter is that people can just pass along a silly joke, not realizing it’s a joke at all.

    One big upside of Twitter is that people can just pass along silly jokes knowing full well that they’re jokes. And then we can read them and laugh. It’s really an excellent medium for comedy.

  6. The annoying thing to me about this fake is that there *are* interesting correlations with birth month/season and I would love to understand them causally. It might lead to insights about the origins of astrology.

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