Paul Finlay, Devious Data and Iffy Information: How the Media Can Make Anything Look Good – Or Bad

Paul Finlay, Devious Data and Iffy Information: How the Media Can Make Anything Look Good – Or Bad 362 European Journal of Communication 33(3) smart objects are different from other technical objects because they have intentionality and protentionality, and they modulate space and time – topics he explores in the first three substantive chapters. Chapter 5 then investigates the process of phase politics. In Ash’s view it is precisely through phases that ‘particular publics form around a specific issue in relation to smart objects’ and ‘there is no public before or prior to the appearance of an issue that is produced through a phase’ (p. 124). Chapter 6 focuses on the process of involution – a process of change for smart objects that leads to the reorganisation or dis- mantling of existing phases and the emergence of new ones. The final substantive chapter discusses the ethical issues around the development and use of smart objects such as self- drive cars. This is an issue of growing importance especially after a 49-year-old woman was recently killed in the United States by an Uber self-drive car. Ash questions the suit- ability of the prevailing utilitarian and deontological approaches and offers an alternative framework of ‘phase ethics’, which recognises the limitations of machines. While the book does not necessarily offer answers to all questions posed, it challenges conventional thinking and offers an interesting framework for evaluating the importance of smart objects with a view towards the future. Paul Finlay Devious Data and Iffy Information: How the Media Can Make Anything Look Good – Or Bad, Relativistic Books: Nottingham, 2018; 108 pp.: £6.99. ISBN: 9781999730338 The Brexit referendum polarised public opinion in the United Kingdom and understand- ably attracted a huge amount of media coverage. One of the most controversial claims that received extensive coverage was the slogan used on the Leave campaign bus, which read, ‘We send the EU £50 million a day, let’s fund our NHS instead’. How did they come up with this figure and to what extent was it realistic? This question was widely debated both during and after the campaign. The Brexit referendum, the 2016 US Presidential campaign and the 2017 General Election in the United Kingdom inspired Paul Finlay to write his book Devious Data and Iffy Information: How the Media Can Make Anything Look Good – Or Bad. He recognises that the outcomes of these three events made commentators rethink the value of data and logic and that according to ‘a well-known pollster … the average voter thinks about politics for only 4 minutes a week’ (p. viii). However, Finlay’s contention is that there is a significant minority of people to whom politics matters and his book is aimed ‘at the group of people who are not versed in data analysis but who would like to be able to more readily interpret the data that is used – and abused – to advocate particular courses of action’ (p. viii). As a basic intro- ductory text, this book is targeted at students and the popular public more so than at academics. It starts with an introduction and is then divided into eight substantive chap- ters: Describing Data; What Is Being Reported?; Sampling; Statistics about Populations; Association, Regression, Correlation and Causation; Forecasting and Scenarios; The Importance of Quantitative Context and the Commentariat and Its Data Sources. Finlay uses numerous recent examples, mainly from British politics. He presents a range of key terms and techniques in a clear and succinct way. The book provides a useful and very basic introduction to data selection, use and interpretation, but as the author makes it clear, it is not aimed at ‘the numerical geek – or indeed geeks of any sort’ (blurb). http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png European Journal of Communication SAGE

Paul Finlay, Devious Data and Iffy Information: How the Media Can Make Anything Look Good – Or Bad

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SAGE Publications
Copyright
© The Author(s) 2018
ISSN
0267-3231
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1460-3705
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10.1177/0267323118775780h
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Abstract

362 European Journal of Communication 33(3) smart objects are different from other technical objects because they have intentionality and protentionality, and they modulate space and time – topics he explores in the first three substantive chapters. Chapter 5 then investigates the process of phase politics. In Ash’s view it is precisely through phases that ‘particular publics form around a specific issue in relation to smart objects’ and ‘there is no public before or prior to the appearance of an issue that is produced through a phase’ (p. 124). Chapter 6 focuses on the process of involution – a process of change for smart objects that leads to the reorganisation or dis- mantling of existing phases and the emergence of new ones. The final substantive chapter discusses the ethical issues around the development and use of smart objects such as self- drive cars. This is an issue of growing importance especially after a 49-year-old woman was recently killed in the United States by an Uber self-drive car. Ash questions the suit- ability of the prevailing utilitarian and deontological approaches and offers an alternative framework of ‘phase ethics’, which recognises the limitations of machines. While the book does not necessarily offer answers to all questions posed, it challenges conventional thinking and offers an interesting framework for evaluating the importance of smart objects with a view towards the future. Paul Finlay Devious Data and Iffy Information: How the Media Can Make Anything Look Good – Or Bad, Relativistic Books: Nottingham, 2018; 108 pp.: £6.99. ISBN: 9781999730338 The Brexit referendum polarised public opinion in the United Kingdom and understand- ably attracted a huge amount of media coverage. One of the most controversial claims that received extensive coverage was the slogan used on the Leave campaign bus, which read, ‘We send the EU £50 million a day, let’s fund our NHS instead’. How did they come up with this figure and to what extent was it realistic? This question was widely debated both during and after the campaign. The Brexit referendum, the 2016 US Presidential campaign and the 2017 General Election in the United Kingdom inspired Paul Finlay to write his book Devious Data and Iffy Information: How the Media Can Make Anything Look Good – Or Bad. He recognises that the outcomes of these three events made commentators rethink the value of data and logic and that according to ‘a well-known pollster … the average voter thinks about politics for only 4 minutes a week’ (p. viii). However, Finlay’s contention is that there is a significant minority of people to whom politics matters and his book is aimed ‘at the group of people who are not versed in data analysis but who would like to be able to more readily interpret the data that is used – and abused – to advocate particular courses of action’ (p. viii). As a basic intro- ductory text, this book is targeted at students and the popular public more so than at academics. It starts with an introduction and is then divided into eight substantive chap- ters: Describing Data; What Is Being Reported?; Sampling; Statistics about Populations; Association, Regression, Correlation and Causation; Forecasting and Scenarios; The Importance of Quantitative Context and the Commentariat and Its Data Sources. Finlay uses numerous recent examples, mainly from British politics. He presents a range of key terms and techniques in a clear and succinct way. The book provides a useful and very basic introduction to data selection, use and interpretation, but as the author makes it clear, it is not aimed at ‘the numerical geek – or indeed geeks of any sort’ (blurb).

Journal

European Journal of CommunicationSAGE

Published: Jun 1, 2018

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