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Speaking with: 'Everybody Lies' author Seth Stephens-Davidowitz on why we tell the (sometimes disturbing) truth online

By Michael Lund, Deputy Editor: Science + Technology, The Conversation

According to Seth Stephens-Davidowitz, everybody lies to preserve social relations. www.shutterstock.com, CC BY

How much do you really know about your friends? Your co-workers? Your community and your country?

The fact is that much of what we think we know about the people around us is likely to be skewed, because people tend to lie. We lie in conversation, on social media, and in surveys. But there exists an online trove of data that allows us to paint a much more accurate picture of who we really are.

That’s the argument of US data scientist Seth Stephens-Davidowitz, author of the book Everybody Lies and our guest on today’s episode of Speaking with.

Stephens-Davidowitz says he uses data from the internet – what he calls “the traces of information that billions of people leave on Google, social media, dating, and even pornography sites” to tell us the surprising and sometimes disturbing truth about who we really are.

Seth Stephens-Davidowitz spoke with David Tuffley, a senior lecturer in applied ethics and sociotechnical studies at Griffith University, to talk about what he learned.


Edited by Dilpreet Kaur.

Recorded by Michael Lund.

Seth Stephens-Davidowitz is in Australia to speak at the Festival of Dangerous Ideas in Sydney on this Sunday, November 4. He was also a speaker at Griffith University’s Integrity 20’18 event on October 24-26.

Subscribe to The Conversation’s Speaking with podcast on Apple Podcasts, or follow on Tunein Radio.

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Originally published in The Conversation.