Facts and figures are like cow pastures. Unless you squint, you can’t always tell how full of bullshit they are.
Carl T. Bergstrom and Jevin West, a pair of scientists at the University of Washington, think it’s time to arm students with boots and shovels. They have published the outline of a course, titled “Calling Bullshit,” which would try to teach how to spot bad data and misleading graphs at a time when bending statistics has become a popular art form.
“Pending approval from the administrative powers-that-be at the University of Washington, we hope to offer the seminar in the near future,” they wrote on a website they built for the course. “In the meantime, connoisseurs of bullshit may enjoy the course syllabus, readings, and case studies that we have lovingly curated.”
The Chronicle caught up with Mr. Bergstrom, a biologist, and Mr. West, an information scientist, to talk about their course.
The full interview is here. All I can say is that we need these courses everywhere. On street corners, even.
I notice a poster of a squid over the door – this must be a Cthulhuian plot!