Hey, Mom! The Explanation.

Here's the permanent dedicated link to my first Hey, Mom! post and the explanation of the feature it contains.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Hey, Mom! Talking to My Mother #449 - How to Write a Persuasive Essay Part Four - "because-should thesis"


Hey, Mom! Talking to My Mother #449 - How to Write a Persuasive Essay Part Four, Writerly Wednesday

Hi Mom,  No poem this week. I am opting for the next installment of the How to Write a Persuasive Essay item instead.

I have been threatening to put my "because-should thesis" method online for some time. I did some Google searching a while back on thesis statements, but I did not find that anyone had specifically invented the same format for writing thesis statements for persuasive essays.

I should preface these remarks with the caveat that not all thesis statements need to be framed in the "because-should" form. But most arguments --potentially all arguments -- for persuasive essays are best formed in a problem-solution form. Describing the problem part with reasons or causes in a "because" clause, then naturally leads to a call for action in a solution part of the sentence, a "should" clause. A problem statement alone lacks an answer to "so what?" What should be done about this problem? Whereas a solution statement alone lacks the answer to the natural "why" question, why legalize marijuana or whatever the call to action may be.

I have developed my ideas about thesis statements and "because-should" thesis statements in particular since I originally wrote the explanations contained herein, but I will save those remarks for future posts. This post contains the nitty of the gritty, the basics of the form and the basics of the reasons for the form.

As always my remarks are written as if I am lecturing to you in my class because, well, I am.

If you are new to my blog, brought here by some Internet searching for how to write a thesis, WELCOME! Feel free to explore, meet my Mom to whom this is written (Hi Mom), and leave me comment! Thanks for stopping by.

If you're a regular reader other than my Mom, then you know what I am all about, but thanks for stopping in, also.

Here are the links to the previous three installments of this feature.

How to Write a Persuasive Essay Part One

How to Write a Persuasive Essay Part Two

How to Write a Persuasive Essay Part Three

And onward...




THESIS

THESIS STATEMENTS ARE REQUIRED:The WHOLE point of the academic, persuasive writing we're doing is to emphasize the necessity of a thesis. Without a thesis, your paper would have no focused argument and thus would lack purpose.

THESIS IS MORE THAN AN ATTENTION-GETTING TOOL: Though a thesis can be used to ensnare the reader's attention and keep it, the true purpose of the thesis is to provide the argument the writer will make in the introduction so as to focus and structure the essay.

LIKE A COURT OF LAW NOT A MURDER MYSTERY: A persuasive paper is not like a murder mystery, a whodunit. You do not wait to reveal the thesis at the end of the paper.

Think of a paper as a court of law and YOU, the writer, are a defense attorney. Would you start your case by saying, "I am not going to tell you whether my client is guilty or not guilty. I want you to figure it out for yourself."

um.... no.

You would instead say something like, "My client is not guilty, and after you have heard the evidence I will present, and seen the holes that I will rend in the prosecutor's argument and evidence, you will reach the same conclusion that my client could not have murdered Lindsay Lohan (as much as we all wish he had)."

Thesis statements may take many different forms. One thing that they all have in common (or should have in common) is that they are all ARGUMENTS.

A thesis is an argument.

Often textbooks for composition courses muddy the waters by being vague directions and dancing around the thesis subject by explaining that it (a thesis) delivers the “controlling idea” or that a thesis delivers the “point of the paper” or the paper’s “main idea.” I am here to make this simple. In this class, you must write an ARGUMENT, an opinion, a statement with which someone could (and probably will) disagree. Yes, this statement is the controlling idea, the main idea, the point. Yes, it will contain an essay map, it will be concise, and it will be placed at the end of the introduction.

But let’s not equivocate. It’s AN ARGUMENT.

It cannot be a question, a statement of fact, or something that does not need to be proven.
If you write the thesis as a proper argument, it will need to be PROVEN (supported with evidence).

Students often find the composition of the thesis difficult (especially before writing the paper). REMEMBER, at this stage, you are creating a preliminary thesis, a working thesis. As you write your paper, your thesis may change. In fact, if you apply yourself to this work as you should, it probably will change.



HOW TO USE THE BECAUSE-SHOULD THESIS METHOD.

One way I try to help you to create a strong thesis is to give you a format for the thesis, like a formula. You can plug in your material to my formula, and you will have a ready-made, argumentative thesis. It’s impossible to come out of this process without a thesis in a strong problem-solution form.

The formula uses the words BECAUSE and SHOULD to structure the sentence. In the “because” part, you give the reasons for the problem, and in the “should” part, you describe what “should be done,” which is the solution. The sentence can be written with either the because part first and the should second or the other way around. Each paper subject will alter which part of the sentence should come first (the most important part) and which should come second.



As you create these parts, you are also writing the ESSAY MAP. You are sharing with the reader the topics you will explore to support your claim that this problem should be solved. In some cases, you have to argue more substantially that the problem exists, and in other cases, you devote more time to the solution as the problem is more self evident.

The formula looks like this
1.    because of problem x, so and so should do Y
2.    so and so should do X because of problems y and z

Not all thesis statements need to use this formula, but they will be better for it.

I will now share some key ideas to remember and examples.


KEY IDEAS
  •         USE DETAIL IN YOUR THESIS STATEMENT
  • preview SUBJECT & topic sentences
  • essay map



Examples of thesis statements using the because-should method follow in the table. The table below shows examples with and without the because-should thesis formula.
Thesis Statments
Problem +
Solution =
Because Clause +
Reasons +
Should Clause +
Describe Solution
Formula Complete!
Example without
Trust is the most important element in any marriage; without trust, a marriage may not survive.
Example with
Because trust is the most important element in a marriage, both partners should work together in an open dialogue to nurture and maintain trust, even if this means attending couple's therapy.
Example without
The Vietnam War was useless.
Example with
Because of the great loss of human life, wasted resources, and ultimate failure to achieve the stated goals, the Vietnam War should be re-assessed historically as a useless military invasion.
Example without
Gun crimes take a great many innocent lives unnecessarily.
Example with
Because gun crimes are so rampant in our country and criminals don't care where they are when they commit gun crimes, states should change the laws restricting concealed weapons permits.
Example without
Office politics can destroy a company.
Example with
Because office politics can damage employee morale, destroy productivity, and even ruin a company's reputation, companies should provide human resource programs and interpersonal communications training twice a year.
Example without
Parents should help pay for sports in which their children participate.
Example with
School districts should institute a pay-to-play sports program requiring parents whose children participate in sports to offset a portion of the expense because of the budget constraints in most school systems and because a disproportionate amount of money is usually allocated to sports despite the small number of students who participate in them.

More to come in part five.
   Chris Tower    The Galactic Monkey Wrench   Kalamazoo, Michigan   49006   Contact me here with questions or comments.

© All text and some of the images are the exclusive copyright of christopher tower (who purposefully avoids capitalizing his name), also known as the galactic monkey wrench, located at the Eldorado Ranch and batcave in the heart of the Great Lakes. All rights reserved. All paronomasia intentional.

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Reflect and connect.

Have someone give you a kiss, and tell you that I love you.

I miss you so very much, Mom.

Talk to you tomorrow, Mom.

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- Days ago = 451 days ago

- Bloggery committed by chris tower - 1609.28 - 10:10

NOTE on time: When I post late, I had been posting at 7:10 a.m. because Google is on Pacific Time, and so this is really 10:10 EDT. However, it still shows up on the blog in Pacific time. So, I am going to start posting at 10:10 a.m. Pacific time, intending this to be 10:10 Eastern time. I know this only matters to me, and to you, Mom. But I am not going back and changing all the 7:10 a.m. times. But I will run this note for a while. Mom, you know that I am posting at 10:10 a.m. often because this is the time of your death.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Hey, Mom! Talking to My Mother #448 - Staining the Deck with Dad (again)




Hey, Mom! Talking to My Mother #448 - Staining the Deck with Dad (again)

Hi Mom, Dad and I had to stain the deck again. We did this Saturday 1609.24. We power washed Friday 1609.23 in a little rain.

We considered the previous iteration to be "primer" ad the grey resulted from a catastrophic miscommunication with my wife.

Here's the link to the previous work: Hey Mom #357 Work Days with Dad.

It's a special blessing, a gift, to be able to get with my Dad and do this work together just as we used to do when we lived together, starting when I was a young boy. We should commemorate one work day by seeing a film after as we did the day Dad took me to see Jaws after working all day, a film I did not think I would be allowed to see due its graphic violence. That was 1975, and I was very sensitive and impressionable 13 years old.

And so we're work, and I treasure this time with Dad.

And now the boring photos.

First, power washing.





Then picking out a color and making sure Liesel approves.



And then we start to apply stain with edging and railings.






And then we begin to roll on the stain.



And then I forget to take a picture midway through rolling, so we're done!





There's some spots I missed but you can't see the big one on the post.
Also, there's a little grey peeking through on board edges. It may stay that way unless it drives me mad.







Thanks, Dad, the Big Guy.

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Reflect and connect.

Have someone give you a kiss, and tell you that I love you.

I miss you so very much, Mom.

Talk to you tomorrow, Mom.

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- Days ago = 450 days ago

- Bloggery committed by chris tower - 1609.27 - 10:10

NOTE on time: When I post late, I had been posting at 7:10 a.m. because Google is on Pacific Time, and so this is really 10:10 EDT. However, it still shows up on the blog in Pacific time. So, I am going to start posting at 10:10 a.m. Pacific time, intending this to be 10:10 Eastern time. I know this only matters to me, and to you, Mom. But I am not going back and changing all the 7:10 a.m. times. But I will run this note for a while. Mom, you know that I am posting at 10:10 a.m. often because this is the time of your death.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Hey, Mom! Talking to My Mother #447 - The Veil - new Peter Gabriel - Musical Monday 1609.26


Hey, Mom! Talking to My Mother #447 - The Veil - new Peter Gabriel - Musical Monday 1609.26

Hi Mom,

Still in catch up mode. But is it necessary to share more than one video a day in the Musical Monday.

This is the new Peter Gabriel video for the Oliver Stone film Snowden. Liesel and I enjoyed the documentary CitizenFour last year, and so a fictional version may be an excellent treat.

The film was released September 16th, 2016.

For those who have been living in a catacomb with no contact with the outside world, and for you, Mom, because I know you don't know follow this link:

EDWARD SNOWDEN.




Published on Sep 14, 2016

"The Veil" by Peter Gabriel features in, and was written especially for, the Oliver Stone movie SNOWDEN.

The song is out now on all digital download and streaming services


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Reflect and connect.

Have someone give you a kiss, and tell you that I love you.

I miss you so very much, Mom.

Talk to you tomorrow, Mom.

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- Days ago = ## days ago

- Bloggery committed by chris tower - date - time

NOTE on time: When I post late, I had been posting at 7:10 a.m. because Google is on Pacific Time, and so this is really 10:10 EDT. However, it still shows up on the blog in Pacific time. So, I am going to start posting at 10:10 a.m. Pacific time, intending this to be 10:10 Eastern time. I know this only matters to me, and to you, Mom. But I am not going back and changing all the 7:10 a.m. times. But I will run this note for a while. Mom, you know that I am posting at 10:10 a.m. often because this is the time of your death.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Hey, Mom! Talking to My Mother #446 - José Fernandez, RIP


Hey, Mom! Talking to My Mother #446 - José Fernandez, RIP

Hi Mom,

I am still in catch up mode.

I was watching sports news and getting ready for football Sunday this morning when news broke that Miami Marlins pitcher José Fernandez had been killed the night before in a boating accident.

I will have more on this subject later, but the hits keep on coming in 2016, which is a year of many significant and tragic deaths, a time period that for me stretches back to July of 2015.

I am cheating a little, since I am posting back in time, and this screen capture image is from Monday September 26th and a game versus the New York Mets. But the image is so powerful despite the fact that I could not find one that was not a video thumb nail.

More later.

But for now, just stunned silence and deep sadness for José Fernandez, his family, his teammates, and everyone who has died since July of 2015.

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Reflect and connect.

Have someone give you a kiss, and tell you that I love you.

I miss you so very much, Mom.

Talk to you tomorrow, Mom.

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- Days ago = 448 days ago

- Bloggery committed by chris tower - 1609.25 - 10:10

NOTE on time: When I post late, I had been posting at 7:10 a.m. because Google is on Pacific Time, and so this is really 10:10 EDT. However, it still shows up on the blog in Pacific time. So, I am going to start posting at 10:10 a.m. Pacific time, intending this to be 10:10 Eastern time. I know this only matters to me, and to you, Mom. But I am not going back and changing all the 7:10 a.m. times. But I will run this note for a while. Mom, you know that I am posting at 10:10 a.m. often because this is the time of your death.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Hey, Mom! Talking to My Mother #445 - Fashion Police and Grammar Police


Hey, Mom! Talking to My Mother #445 - Fashion Police and Grammar Police

Hi Mom,

Still in catch up mode.

So, just this.

I know I have had several xkcd comics lately, but this one is classic and perfect for/from me.

xkcd link




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Reflect and connect.

Have someone give you a kiss, and tell you that I love you.

I miss you so very much, Mom.

Talk to you tomorrow, Mom.

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- Days ago = 447 days ago

- Bloggery committed by chris tower - 1609.24 - 10:10

NOTE on time: When I post late, I had been posting at 7:10 a.m. because Google is on Pacific Time, and so this is really 10:10 EDT. However, it still shows up on the blog in Pacific time. So, I am going to start posting at 10:10 a.m. Pacific time, intending this to be 10:10 Eastern time. I know this only matters to me, and to you, Mom. But I am not going back and changing all the 7:10 a.m. times. But I will run this note for a while. Mom, you know that I am posting at 10:10 a.m. often because this is the time of your death.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Hey, Mom! Talking to My Mother #444 - Trump and Racism

Kathy Miller - former Trump campaign chiar - Ohio
Hey, Mom! Talking to My Mother #444 - Trump and Racism

Hi Mom, More reposting. This time from the Guardian.

The Trump campaign just brings all the ignorance of the nation's mind to the forefront.

It's almost difficult to believe that someone could become a campaign manager for a STATE and be this ignorant.

ORIGINAL HERE - https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2016/sep/22/trump-ohio-campaign-chair-no-racism-before-obama

Ohio Trump campaign chair Kathy Miller says there was 'no racism' before Obama

Kathy Miller called the Black Lives Matter movement ‘a stupid waste of time’ and said low African American voter turnout could be due to ‘the way they’re raised.'


WATCH THE VIDEO:


Donald Trump’s campaign chair in a prominent Ohio county has claimed there was “no racism” during the 1960s and said black people who have not succeeded over the past half-century only have themselves to blame.
Kathy Miller, who is white and chair of the Republican nominee’s campaign in Mahoning County, made the remarks during a taped interview with the Guardian’s Anywhere but Washington series of election videos.



“If you’re black and you haven’t been successful in the last 50 years, it’s your own fault. You’ve had every opportunity, it was given to you,” she said.
“You’ve had the same schools everybody else went to. You had benefits to go to college that white kids didn’t have. You had all the advantages and didn’t take advantage of it. It’s not our fault, certainly.”
Miller also called the Black Lives Matter movement “a stupid waste of time” and said lower voter turnout among African Americans could be related to “the way they’re raised”.
Her comments risk further alienating African American voters from Trump in the crucial swing state. No Republican president has reached the White House without also winning Ohio, a state in which 12.7% of the population is black.
Trump has repeatedly stumbled in his push to attract black voters, an effort that began with his declaration last month that African Americans have “nothing to lose” by voting for him.
His latest effort at outreach involved a visit to a black church in Cleveland on Wednesday, when cameras captured the Republican nominee chuckling after boxing promoter Don King used the N-word.
Mahoning, the eastern Ohio county where Miller is coordinating Trump’s campaign, is a historically Democratic stronghold that includes Youngstown, a former steel city that has experienced decades of economic decline.
The county is reputedly “ground-zero” for disaffected white, working-class Democrats who are drawn to Trump’s promise to boost manufacturing by renegotiating international free-trade agreements.
Before the primaries, some 6,000 Democrats in Mahoning switched party affiliation to Republican, reportedly to vote for Trump. 
Miller, a real estate broker, said that the Democrats switching over to her party were mostly older, white voters.
She said there were “some” African Americans but played down their importance, suggesting they were only a small portion of the population and do not tend to turn out in elections in significant numbers.
African Americans constitute 16% of Mahoning county’s population, which is larger than the state and national average.
During the past two presidential elections, voter turnout in Ohio was actually higher among black people than white people.

Miller, however, suggested low turnout among black people could be connected to culture. “I don’t think that’s part of the way they’re raised,” she said. “For us, I mean, that was something we all did in our families, we all voted.”
Miller also dismissed the racial tensions of the 1960s, when she said she graduated from high school. “Growing up as a kid, there was no racism, believe me. We were just all kids going to school.”
Asked about segregation and the civil rights movement, she replied: “I never experienced it. I never saw that as anything.”
Miller added: “I don’t think there was any racism until Obama got elected. We never had problems like this ... Now, with the people with the guns, and shooting up neighborhoods, and not being responsible citizens, that’s a big change, and I think that’s the philosophy that Obama has perpetuated on America.”

Miller dismissed the suggestion that Trump was exploiting racist or prejudiced views among some voters as “the media making stuff up”. Instead, she said of the Republican nominee: “He’s very willing to talk about issues that have never been discussed publicly.”
When it was pointed out that some people might find her remarks offensive, Miller replied: “I don’t care, it’s the truth.”

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Reflect and connect.

Have someone give you a kiss, and tell you that I love you.

I miss you so very much, Mom.

Talk to you tomorrow, Mom.

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- Days ago = 446 days ago

- Bloggery committed by chris tower - 1609.23 - 10:10

NOTE on time: When I post late, I had been posting at 7:10 a.m. because Google is on Pacific Time, and so this is really 10:10 EDT. However, it still shows up on the blog in Pacific time. So, I am going to start posting at 10:10 a.m. Pacific time, intending this to be 10:10 Eastern time. I know this only matters to me, and to you, Mom. But I am not going back and changing all the 7:10 a.m. times. But I will run this note for a while. Mom, you know that I am posting at 10:10 a.m. often because this is the time of your death.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Hey, Mom! Talking to My Mother #443 - How Big Data Ruins Lives


Hey, Mom! Talking to My Mother #443 - How Big Data Ruins Lives

Hi Mom,

And once again, something about which you are not interested at all, Mom, but something I am re-posting to read it, think about it, and remember it. Also, to share it with all two of my readers who may find it interesting.

I may add comments HERE:

LATER... after I read and think. But for now, in catch up mode, I am just posting and re-publishing.
Thank you Boing Boing and Corey Doctorow.

ORIGINAL TO BE FOUND HERE:
http://boingboing.net/2016/09/06/weapons-of-math-destruction-i.html

Weapons of Math Destruction: invisible, ubiquitous algorithms are ruining millions of lives


 CORY DOCTOROW / 5 AM TUE, SEP 6 2016

I've been writing about the work of Cathy "Mathbabe" O'Neil for years: she's a radical data-scientist with a Harvard PhD in mathematics, who coined the term "Weapons of Math Destruction" to describe the ways that sloppy statistical modeling is punishing millions of people every day, and in more and more cases, destroying lives. Today, O'Neil brings her argument to print, with a fantastic, plainspoken, call to arms called (what else?)Weapons of Math Destruction.




Discussions about big data's role in our society tends to focus on algorithms, but the algorithms for handling giant data sets are all well understood and work well. The real issue isn't algorithms, it's models. Models are what you get when you feed data to an algorithm and ask it to make predictions. As O'Neil puts it, "Models are opinions embedded in mathematics."

Other critical data scientists, like Patrick Ball from the Human Rights Data Analysis Group have located their critique in the same place. As Patrick once explained to me, you can train an algorithm to predict someone's height from their weight, but if your whole training set comes from a grade three class, and anyone who's self-conscious about their weight is allowed to skip the exercise, your model will predict that most people are about four feet tall. The problem isn't the algorithm, it's the training data and the lack of correction when the model produces erroneous conclusions.

Like Ball, O'Neil is enthusiastic about the power of data-driven modelling to be a force for good in the world, and like Ball, she despairs at the way that sloppy statistical work can produce gigantic profits for a few companies at the expense of millions of people -- all with the veneer of mathematical objectivity.
O'Neil calls these harmful models "Weapons of Math Destruction," and not all fault models qualify. For a model to be a WMD, it must be opaque to its subjects, harmful to their interests, and grow exponentially to run at huge scale.

These WMDs are now everywhere. The sleazy for-profit educational system has figured out how to use models to identify desperate people and sucker them into signing up for expensive, useless "educations" that are paid for with punitive student loans, backed by the federal government. That's how the University of Phoenix can be so profitable, even after spending upwards of $1B/year on marketing. They've built a WMD that brings students in at a steady clip despite the fact that they spend $2,225/student in marketing and only $892/student on instruction. Meanwhile, the high-efficacy, low-cost community colleges are all but invisible in the glare and roar of the University of Phoenix's marketing blitzkreig.

One highly visible characteristic of WMDs is their lack of feedback and tuning. In sports, teams use detailed statistical models to predict which athletes they should bid on, and to deploy those athletes when squaring off against opposing teams. But after the predicted event has occurred, the teams update their models to account for their failings. If you pass on a basketball player who goes to glory for a rival team, you update your model to help you do better in the next draft.
Compare this with the WMDs used against us in everyday life. The largest employers in America use commercial services to run their incoming resumes against a model of a "successful" worker. These models hold your employment future in their hands. If one rejects you and you go on to do brilliant work somewhere else, that fact is never used to refine the model. Everyone loses: job-seekers are arbitrarily excluded from employment, and employers miss out on great hires. Only the WMD merchants in the middle make out like bandits.
It's worth asking how we got here. Many forms of WMD were deployed as an answer to institutional bias -- in criminal sentencing, in school grading, in university admissions, in hiring and lending. The models are supposed to be race- and gender-blind, blind to privilege and connections.

But all too often, the models are trained with the biased data. The picture of a future successful Ivy League student or loan repayer is painted using data-points from the admittedly biased history of the institutions. All the Harvard grads or dutiful mortgage payers are fed to the algorithm, which dutifully predicts that tomorrow's Harvard alums and prime loan recipients will look just like yesterday's -- but now the bias gets the credibility of seeming objectivity.
This training problem is well known in stats, but largely ignored by WMD dealers. Companies that run their own Big Data initiatives, by contrast, are much more careful about refining their models. Amazon carefully tracks those customers who abandon their shopping carts, or who stop shopping after a couple of purchases. Their interested in knowing everything they can about "recidivism" among shoppers, and they combine statistical modelling with anthropology -- seeking out and talking to their subjects -- to improve their system.

The contrast with automated sentencing software -- now widely used in the US judicial system, and spreading rapidly around the world -- could not be more stark. Like Amazon's data scientists, the companies that sell sentencing apps are trying to predict recidivism, and their predictions can send one person to prison for decades and let another go free.

These brokers are training their model on the corrupted data of the past. They look at the racialized sentencing outcomes of the past -- the outcomes that sent young black men to prison for years for minor crack possession, while letting rich white men walk away from cocaine possession charges -- and conclude that people from poor neighborhoods, whose family members and friends have had run-ins with the law, and "predict" that this person will reoffend, and recommend long sentences to keep them away from society.

Unlike Amazon, these companies aren't looking to see whether longer sentences cause recidivism (by causing emotional damage and social isolation) and how prison beatings, solitary confinement and prison rape are related to the phenomenon. If the prison system was run like Amazon -- that is, with a commitment to reducing reoffending, rather than enriching justice-system contractors and satisfying revenge-hungry bigots in the electorate -- it would probably look like a Nordic prison: humane, sparsely populated, and oriented toward rehabilitation, addiction treatment, job training, and psychological counselling.

WMDs have transformed education for teachers and students. In the 1980s, the Reagan administration seized on a report called A Nation at Risk, which claimed that the US was on the verge of collapse due to its falling SAT scores. This was the starter-pistol for an all-out assault on teachers and public education, which continues to this day.

The most visible expression of this is the "value added" assessment of teachers, which uses a battery of standardized tests to assess teachers' performance from year to year. The statistical basis for these assessments is laughable (statistics work on big numbers, not classes of 25 kids -- assessments can swing 90% from one year to the next, making them no better than random number generators). Teachers -- good teachers, committed teachers -- lose their jobs over these tests.
Students, meanwhile, are taken away from real learning in order to take more and more tests, and those tests -- which are supposed to measure "aptitude" and thus shouldn't be amenable to expensive preparatory services -- determine their whole futures.

The Nation at Risk report that started it all turned out to be bullshit, by the way -- grounded in another laughable statistical error. Sandia Labs later audited the findings from the report and found that the researchers had failed to account for the ballooning number of students who were taking the SATs, bringing down the average score.

In other words: SATs were falling because more American kids were confident enough to try to go to college: the educational system was working so well that young people who would never have taken an SAT were taking it, and the larger pool of test-takers was bringing the average score down.

WMDs turn the whole of human life into a game of Search Engine Optimization. With SEO, merchants hire companies who claim to have reverse-engineered Google's opaque model and whose advice will move your URL further up in its ranking.

When you pay someone thousands of dollars to prep your kid for the SATs, or to improve your ranking with the "e-score" providers that determine your creditworthiness, jobworthiness, or mortgageworthiness, you're recreating SEO, but for everything. It's a grim picture of the future: WMD makers and SEO experts locked in an endless arms-race to tweak their models to game one another, and all the rest of us being subjected to automated caprice or paying ransom to escape it (for now). In that future, we're all the product, not the customer (much less the citizen).

O'Neil's work is so important because she believes in data science. Algorithms can and will be used to locate people in difficulty: teachers with hard challenges, people in financial distress, people who are struggling in their jobs, students who need educational attention. It's up to us whether we use that information to exclude and further victimize those people, or help them with additional resources

Credit bureaux, e-scorers, and other entities that model us create externalities in the form of false positives -- from no-fly lists to credit-score errors to job score errors that cost us our careers. These errors cost them nothing to make, and something to fix -- and they're incredibly expensive to us. Like all negative externalities, the cost of cleaning them up (rehabilitating your job, finding a new home, serving a longer prison sentence, etc) is much higher than the savings to the firms, but we bear the costs and they reap the savings.

It's E Pluribus Unum reversed: models make many out of one, pigeonholing each of us as members of groups about whom generalizations -- often punitive ones (such as variable pricing) can be made.

Modelling won't go away: as a tool for guiding caring and helpful remedial systems, models are amazing. As a tool for punishing and disenfranchising, they are a nightmare. The choice is ours to make. O'Neil's book is a vital crash-course in the specialized kind of statistical knowledge we all need to interrogate the systems around us and demand better.

Weapons of Math Destruction [Cathy O'Neil/Crown]
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Reflect and connect.

Have someone give you a kiss, and tell you that I love you.

I miss you so very much, Mom.

Talk to you tomorrow, Mom.

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- Days ago = 445 days ago

- Bloggery committed by chris tower - 1609.22 - 10:10

NOTE on time: When I post late, I had been posting at 7:10 a.m. because Google is on Pacific Time, and so this is really 10:10 EDT. However, it still shows up on the blog in Pacific time. So, I am going to start posting at 10:10 a.m. Pacific time, intending this to be 10:10 Eastern time. I know this only matters to me, and to you, Mom. But I am not going back and changing all the 7:10 a.m. times. But I will run this note for a while. Mom, you know that I am posting at 10:10 a.m. often because this is the time of your death.