What we're about

The aim of this club is to exchange ideas on topics we care about and use the means to educate ourselves about how to be good citizens of the planet. We'll cover a from a wide range of non-fiction subjects, including environment, culture, politics, social issues, science and technology, philosophy and ethics.

The club will pick one book, or a few articles on a specific theme, and will meet once a month to discuss the material.

Upcoming events (2)

The Myth of the Rational Voter: Why Democracies Choose Bad Policies

The Myth of the Rational Voter: Why Democracies Choose Bad Policies, Bryan Caplan

Link:
https://www.amazon.com/Myth-Rational-Voter-Democracies-Policies-ebook/dp/B007AIXLDI/ref=sr_1_1

Description(from Amazon)
The greatest obstacle to sound economic policy is not entrenched special interests or rampant lobbying, but the popular misconceptions, irrational beliefs, and personal biases held by ordinary voters. This is economist Bryan Caplan's sobering assessment in this provocative and eye-opening book. Caplan argues that voters continually elect politicians who either share their biases or else pretend to, resulting in bad policies winning again and again by popular demand.

Boldly calling into question our most basic assumptions about American politics, Caplan contends that democracy fails precisely because it does what voters want. Through an analysis of Americans' voting behavior and opinions on a range of economic issues, he makes the convincing case that noneconomists suffer from four prevailing biases: they underestimate the wisdom of the market mechanism, distrust foreigners, undervalue the benefits of conserving labor, and pessimistically believe the economy is going from bad to worse. Caplan lays out several bold ways to make democratic government work better--for example, urging economic educators to focus on correcting popular misconceptions and recommending that democracies do less and let markets take up the slack.

The Myth of the Rational Voter takes an unflinching look at how people who vote under the influence of false beliefs ultimately end up with a government that delivers lousy results. With the upcoming presidential election season drawing nearer, this thought-provoking book is sure to spark a long-overdue reappraisal of our elective system.

** NOTE**

From members on the waitlist, preference will be given to folks who have attended previous sessions.

**Format**

[5 mins] Member introductions - About yourself, what made you join the group, what got you interested in the chosen content, what you intend to take away from the group/discussion

[70-80 mins] Discussion - We'll go around the table and talk about our thoughts on and from the book

[5 mins] Closing thoughts, suggestions for future reads

Weapons of Math Destruction: How Big Data Increases Inequality and Threatens ..

Weapons of Math Destruction: How Big Data Increases Inequality and Threatens Democracy

Link:
https://www.amazon.com/dp/B019B6VCLO/

Description(from Amazon)

We live in the age of algorithms. Increasingly, the decisions that affect our lives—where we go to school, whether we can get a job or a loan, how much we pay for health insurance—are being made not by humans, but by machines. In theory, this should lead to greater fairness: Everyone is judged according to the same rules.

But as mathematician and data scientist Cathy O’Neil reveals, the mathematical models being used today are unregulated and uncontestable, even when they’re wrong. Most troubling, they reinforce discrimination—propping up the lucky, punishing the downtrodden, and undermining our democracy in the process. Welcome to the dark side of Big Data.

Reviews

“O’Neil’s book offers a frightening look at how algorithms are increasingly regulating people. . . . Her knowledge of the power and risks of mathematical models, coupled with a gift for analogy, makes her one of the most valuable observers of the continuing weaponization of big data. . . . [She] does a masterly job explaining the pervasiveness and risks of the algorithms that regulate our lives.”—The New York Times Book Review

"Weapons of Math Destruction is the Big Data story Silicon Valley proponents won't tell. . . . [It] pithily exposes flaws in how information is used to assess everything from creditworthiness to policing tactics . . . a thought-provoking read for anyone inclined to believe that data doesn't lie.”—Reuters

“This is a manual for the twenty-first-century citizen, and it succeeds where other big data accounts have failed—it is accessible, refreshingly critical and feels relevant and urgent.”—Financial Times

"Insightful and disturbing."—New York Review of Books

“Weapons of Math Destruction is an urgent critique of . . . the rampant misuse of math in nearly every aspect of our lives.”—Boston Globe

“A fascinating and deeply disturbing book.”—Yuval Noah Harari, author of Sapiens

“Illuminating . . . [O’Neil] makes a convincing case that this reliance on algorithms has gone too far.”—The Atlantic

“A nuanced reminder that big data is only as good as the people wielding it.”—Wired

** NOTE**

From members on the waitlist, preference will be given to folks who have attended previous sessions.

**Format**

[5 mins] Member introductions - About yourself, what made you join the group, what got you interested in the chosen content, what you intend to take away from the group/discussion

[70-80 mins] Discussion - We'll go around the table and talk about our thoughts on and from the book

[5 mins] Closing thoughts, suggestions for future reads

Photos (48)