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The Tao of Questy is about love and laughter and being human. It's about sharing ideas and being a little bit crazy in order to stay sane.
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There is a sucker born every minute and they are using Google

Sat, 05/13/2017 - 20:43
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American circus entertainer P. T. Barnum is often credited with the statement "there's a sucker born every minute".  I was talking about another famous deputed phrase of P. T. Barnum a few months ago, "there's no such thing as bad publicity," in reference to Marketing 101 and how Pepsi succeeded. In my remarks about how Pepsi succeeded a photo that appears to show  P. T. Barnum with the quote "There's no such thing as bad publicity"  was attached to my posting.

Being an information geek I was curious to learn the origin of the photo of P. T. Barnum.  Doing a quick search of the image on Google quickly showed that the photo was not P. T. Barnum but famous psychologist Bertram R. Forer.

So if the image I think is P. T. Barnum is actually Bertram R. Forer, I ask Google for an image of P. T. Barnum. But now  I am confused, as I use Google to search on a photo of P. T. Barnum they look an awful lot like the same photos identified as Bertram R. Forer.

Bertram R. Forer's connection to P. T. Barnum

In 1948 psychologist Bertram R. Forer gave a psychology test to 39 of his psychology students. Similar to the P. T. Barnum statement "there's a sucker born every minute" Forer was looking to prove that when assessment statements are vague people read their own meaning into the statements. Basically Forer was trying to show that people are easily tricked or manipulated into believing vague things.

But Forer did not connect his theories to circus showman Phineas Taylor Barnum.  The term "Barnum effect" referring to the the work of Forer was coined in 1956 by American psychologist Paul Meehl

Truth by consensus lies

In the world of Questy websites we have been critical of Google claims that "Democracy on the web works." The phrase "truth by consensus" describes the philosophical theory of taking statements to be true simply because people generally agree upon them.

I am cynical about the artificial intelligence of the internet, as I find examples of where truth by consensus is really a lie. Should I be reasonably certain that most of the photos Google identified as P. T. Barnum are accurate? If that is true, at this point I am not sure that I have found an accurate photo of famous psychologist Bertram R. Forer.

The more examples I find of truth by consensus like this mis-attributed photo of P. T. Barnum to Bertram R. Forer illustrates that there is a sucker born every minute and they are using Google to find the answers to their questions.

 


Truth by consensus and the myths and legends created by the internet | http://questy.com/content/truth-consensus-and-myths-and-legends-created-...

We've Got Something for Everyone: The Barnum Effect | https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/sideways-view/201411/weve-got-somet...

F is for Bertram Forer | http://shootingparrots.co.uk/2017/02/15/f-is-for-bertram-forer/

P. T. Barnum | http://www.nndb.com/people/121/000056950/

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Privacy on the Internet is just wishful thinking

Sat, 05/06/2017 - 23:40
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It wasn't all that long ago that former NSA contract employee Edward Snowden was making news accusing the US government of accessing the web servers of some of the biggest internet services for the purpose of data mining, and WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange was becoming a cult hero for exposing government secrets.

Right now there are many arguments over net neutrality that stir up privacy issues into the mix, but they are another area in the fight to control the internet.

Recruiters research prospective candidates on social networking sites as part of pre-hire screening. Social media users have not all learned that the delete key is an illusion. The curse of the digital age is once information is accessed on the internet and passed on to others, there is no way to take it back.

Over at the Guru 42 Universe we talk about the great power comes great responsibility of the internet and the brave new online world. In spite of the fact that their use is increasing everyday, there is a growing distrust of social networking sites. Privacy and personal security concerns become hot topics as websites gather personal information for profiling users to enable advertisers to target them more productively. Ethical and legal concerns are raised as websites make money by selling our digital footprints.


Is privacy a thing of the past?

Back in 1999, Scott McNealy CEO and co-founder of Sun Microsystems uttered the famous quote, "You already have zero privacy. Get over it." Do you think things are any better nearly two decades later?

I know from a long career in telecommunications and computer networking, you have zero privacy.  I don't post my every move on Facebook, and I don't tweet from every restaurant I visit. But I don't go out of my way to run and hide either. I would rather you hear me pitch my view of who I am, instead of visiting one of the many websites offering to sell you anything you want to know about me. Even a simple search can turn up previous addresses and unlisted phone numbers.

I have been accused of blatant self promotion from time to time on social media. I admit to it. I feed the internet with information about me. I believe that a strong defense is to lead with a strong offense. That's not a football strategy, that's my view of dealing with social media.

I write about technology and politics, things like net neutrality, privacy issues, and attempts to regulate the internet. There are no easy answers to the issues. Many issues will involve understanding common ground and compromise.

Do you know who is watching you?

Are you using an email provider like Gmail? Did you know email stored on a third party's servers for over 180 days is considered to be abandoned, and law enforcement agencies only need to provide a written statement certifying that the information is relevant to an investigation in order to obtain the content of such emails. - See more at: Will the Email Privacy Act Become Law?

There are those who will tell you how you can hide your identity on the internet. I must really be cynical, because I wouldn't trust my life on that assumption, as explained in this Washington Post article: The NSA is trying to crack Tor. The State Department is helping pay for it. 

Is privacy just wishful thinking?

The technology generally exists to allow network managers to monitor all aspects of their computer system, including, monitoring sites visited by employees on the Internet, monitoring chat groups and news groups, reviewing material downloaded or uploaded by employees, and reviewing e-mail sent and received by employees.

Most Americans agree that the government should not infringe the individual’s right to privacy, property, and right to speak. But they also agree that law enforcement and national security are important governmental functions.  Interestingly enough, the word “privacy” does not appear in the Constitution.

Some follow up thoughts:

With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility

Protecting your assets balancing better security versus big brother

And a few more articles to get you thinking...

If You Think You're Anonymous Online, Think Again 

Most people don’t realize they are leaving behind digital footprints 

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Marketing 101 and how Pepsi succeeded

Sat, 04/08/2017 - 12:37
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With everything going on in the world it is amazing that the social media crowd is all wound up over a Pepsi advertisement. While there are those who rant just how stupid the Pepsi advertisement was, "How did Pepsi's ad even get off the drawing board?"(1) there are others who understand the nature of marketing stating that "Pepsi's New Ad Is a Total Success"(2)

Why all the outrage?


In a world at war, with so many problems, there are more worse things happening that need discussion than a television commercial.

I doubt that any one single television advertisement is going to make me switch political parties, likewise with my favorite sports teams, I won't switch.

I hate political labels, does it really matter if Republicans and Democrats started the debate, as long as there is a solution to the problem? Next to who is my favorite sports team and what political party I claim as my own, the next most polarizing topic in America might be, do I prefer Pepsi over Coke.

As far as Coke or Pepsi, I have my mind made up. But to a certain extent, whether I drink Coke or Pepsi is somewhat determined by where I eat. Most restaurants serve Coke or Pepsi, very few sell both.

Go ahead boycott Pepsi

There are a few rants on social media proclaiming, "PepsiCo has made its last dollar off of me."

The people who never liked Pepsi, and the haters that hate capitalism and blame it for all our evils will now tell us all how we need to boycott this evil company.

PepsiCo, Inc. is an American multinational food, snack and beverage company. If you feel the need to boycott Pepsi make sure you add Fritos, Cheetos, Tostitos, and Doritos, to your list of things to boycott.

If you are eating out, avoid Pepsi spinoffs KFC, Taco Bell, and Pizza Hut. At breakfast time you will need to avoid Tropicana, Quaker Oats, Life cereal, and Captain Crunch as well if you really want to show Pepsi who is boss!

Pepsi succeeded!


If Pepsi had produced a silly commercial and everyone ignored it, another day passes and no one notices it. But Pepsi has received a tremendous amount of attention, and chatter on the internet because of this controversy.

According to Google Trends, on average the internet interest for Coke is twice as much as Pepsi, that is until the last few days when people talking and posting about Pepsi has skyrocketed. Pepsi's mentions on social media were up more than 7,000% the day the Kendall Jenner ad debuted, according to Brandwatch, a social media analytics company. Brilliant marketing move by Pepsi!


"There's no such thing as bad publicity." - P. T. Barnum

 

(1) How did Pepsi's ad even get off the drawing board?  https://www.usatoday.com/story/money/2017/04/06/pepsis-ad-diversity/100133470/


(2) Pepsi's New Ad Is a Total Success https://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2017/04/pepsi-ad-success/522021/

 

 

 

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Wayne Gretzky or Babe Ruth then again maybe it was Albert Einstein

Thu, 03/16/2017 - 00:08
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As someone who writes a lot about great inventors and forgotten geeks I get endless questions asking to compare Thomas Edison and Nikola Tesla.

Recently I have been asked to answer questions comparing Benjamin Franklin and Albert Einstein, Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin, and Albert Einstein to Nikola Tesla.

There is an obsession with "who was smarter" questions, and comparing one successful person to another. The problem with these compare person x to person y questions is that they often ask to compare two totally different people. Do we really need to keep score?

This material in this blog post has been rolling around in my brain for a few weeks. With a few additional questions added to my list, the time has come to address fascination with comparing people.

There is a fascination with comparing people with Einstein. As I amused myself reading some recent questions, I wondered how silly can it get, will people start comparing Albert Einstein to Wayne Gretzky or Babe Ruth?

To those of you who only vaguely know their names, let us take a brief look at the careers of sports legends Wayne Gretzky and Babe Ruth.

Wayne Gretzky played in the National Hockey League from 1978 through 1999. During his career as a hockey player he dominated the sport, he was the NHL's season points leader 10 times and named the NHL most valuable player award nine times.

George Herman "Babe" Ruth was an professional baseball player whose career in Major League Baseball (MLB) spanned 22 seasons from 1914 through 1935. Ruth lead the league in home runs in twelve seasons. At the time of his retirement Babe Ruth held dozens of MLB records.

In sports there are various statistics kept to evaluate the performance of a player. Statistically Babe Ruth was the greatest Major League Baseball player of his generation. Statistically Wayne Gretzky was the greatest National Hockey League player of his generation.

They were very successful in their professional lives, but the sports they played required very different skills. How can we compare Wayne Gretzky to Babe Ruth?

Now let us compare Wayne Gretzky and Babe Ruth to Albert Einstein. Albert Einstein was the most influential physicist of the 20th century, Babe Ruth was the most influential Major League Baseball player of the 20th century, so I should be able to compare them?

Have I gone crazy? This is all sounding absurd, but is it any more absurd than the endless questions of comparison?

I have no idea what the IQ was of any of the successful people I have studied over the years, nor do I care. Some of the most successful people have been looked at as being stupid when they were growing up. On a personal level, some of the "smartest" people I have known were not very successful. They might have been considered a genius on an IQ test, but they never achieved much in life.

The success of famous people has a lot to do with making the most of their opportunities and being a master of their time and circumstances How do you compare complex individuals living in different times working in similar but different professions. I have studied many successful people over the years, in business and technology. A common theme in all successful people is a strong passion for their area of interest. Many had an compulsion, perhaps you could call it an obsession, for success.

It is often said that there is a fine line between genius and insanity. Many successful people operated on that fine line.

Who is the greatest? Who was the smartest? Who was the funniest? Wayne Gretzky or Babe Ruth then again maybe it was Albert Einstein?

Why does it matter?

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