William Davies makes a compelling case that knowledge is being privatized, as corporations gain the upper hand over democratic states. It's not just a post-fact government we need to worry about, it's public-manipulated-by-corporations that keep all important data secret.

How statistics lost their power – and why we should fear what comes...

The ability of statistics to accurately represent the world is declining. In its wake, a new age of big data controlled by private companies is taking over – and putting democracy in peril.

... in an age of data analytics there are few mechanisms to prevent people from giving way to their instinctive reactions or emotional prejudices.

 The new apparatus of number-crunching is well suited to detecting trends, sensing the mood and spotting things as they bubble up. It serves campaign managers and marketers very well. It is less well suited to making the kinds of unambiguous, objective, potentially consensus-forming claims about society that statisticians and economists are paid for.

The question to be taken more seriously, now that numbers are being constantly generated behind our backs and beyond our knowledge, is where the crisis of statistics leaves representative democracy.

Bodies such as the Open Data Institute …  have little leverage over the corporations where so much of our data now accumulates. 

A post-statistical society is a potentially frightening proposition, not because it would lack any forms of truth or expertise altogether, but because it would drastically privatise them. Statistics are one of many pillars of liberalism, indeed of Enlightenment.

… the battle that will need to be waged in the long term is not between an elite-led politics of facts versus a populist politics of feeling. It is between those still committed to public knowledge and public argument and those who profit from the ongoing disintegration of those things. [emphasis mine]

image source: 147 corporations rule the world


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Again wishing the "Like" button were called "upvote" or some such instead -- I appreciate your sharing of disturbing facts and trends!

Worth emphasizing: "the battle... is between those still committed to public knowledge and public argument and those who profit from the ongoing disintegration of those things."

This also, scarily, could apply to government-funded science and specifically to data about global climate destabilization! (I'm sure Ruth or Joan has links to specifics.)

In the US we're indeed facing a post-factual government that will do all it can to uphold the Church of the "Free Market"....

I was just listening to a podcast where scientists commented on how much tax-payer funded science was happening behind closed doors. I had no idea the scale or magnitude of the problem.

We are so fucked.




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