Homo Urbanis and Statistics Porn

Hans Rosling’s video debunking developing-world myths is our feature this week. From the get-go, he challenges widely held assumptions about policies and what it means to be in a developing nation. In this talk, he uses fantastic visualization methods to illuminate concepts that would otherwise be lost in a sea of data. His passion for what he does is infectious and his facility with the presentation is like nothing else. If you only watch one thing this week, let it be this.

There’s nothing new about the notion of ours becoming an urban species, and the trends that are appearing are fascinating. UN data says that the milestone of more than half of all humans living in cities is happening right . . . now.

Stewart Brand suggests that this is a kind of tipping point. He also says that squatter cities are a good thing and gives some very surprising reasons why. His controversial talk is only three minutes long:

http://scitalks.com/video.php?id=222816

Admittedly, clocking in at three minutes and seventeen seconds, the talk’s hugely oversimplifying a complex problem, but the ideas it introduces are worth consideration. He gives an hour-long talk on the same topic with much more background in this video:

http://scitalks.com/video.php?id=222839

To balance his side of the story, in Mike Davis’ set of three interviews, he draws completely different conclusions. Brand says that they were looking at the same data, but that Davis left out anything positive and Brand suspects that he’s doing the same thing, but leaving out the negatives.

Here are Davis’ videos – it’s one interview that’s been split up into three.

http://scitalks.com/video.php?id=222841
http://scitalks.com/video.php?id=222842
http://scitalks.com/video.php?id=222843

Same data, drastically different interpretations. One a message of hope. One a message of devastation. One expected, the other surprising. Would love to hear your comments!

Thanks everyone for a terrific first week!

Lee

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