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Cathy O'Neil

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Wednesday, August 16, 2017 - 11:35am
This is a guest post by Michael J. Barany, a postdoc in History at Dartmouth. One year ago, I wrote a post for the Scientific American Guest Blog arguing against the widespread truism that mathematics is everywhere. The post laid out the history of mathematics as a special and exclusive kind of knowledge wielded by privileged elites. I […]
Thursday, August 10, 2017 - 11:30am

The Trump administration has taken on three ambitious statistical projects: tracking down cases of voter registration fraud, identifying racism in college admissions and developing an algorithm for “extreme vetting” of visa applications.

These would all be very tricky even for a trained professional. I doubt the president’s people are up to the task.

Sunday, August 6, 2017 - 11:35am
I’ve started to get emails from concerned friends checking up on me, so it’s high time I give an update on my condition over here: I’m doing great!! I’ve been eating really carefully, and enjoying every single (tiny) bite. I dream of bean soup, perfectly seasoned. I am, in fact, well on my way to […]
Friday, August 4, 2017 - 11:35am

For all its absurdity, the debate over Obamacare has accomplished something positive: It has educated people that insurance is really about risk pooling -- as in you need both healthy and sick people to participate if it’s going to be affordable for the sick.

Some believe that universal government health coverage is the only way to guarantee such risk-sharing. They will be all the more right in the age of big data.

Sunday, July 30, 2017 - 11:30am
I’m happy to report I’m off pain meds, which makes thinking enormously easier. I want to share observations and comments I’ve accumulated while high over the past week before I forget them: 1. Pain There are lots of online resources, like this one, which tell you what to expect after bariatric sleeve surgery. When they […]
Monday, July 24, 2017 - 5:05pm
Made it through surgery and I've already walked around. I love the pain control button. Home tomorrow!
Sunday, July 23, 2017 - 7:30am
I’ve been scheduled for surgery tomorrow. That means I’m super excited and somewhat nervous. We met with the surgeon last week, and he seemed very smart and good at his job by all accounts, which is to say online searches and word of mouth. In order to prepare for surgery, I’ve been on a liquid […]
Thursday, July 20, 2017 - 1:45pm


Lots of algorithms go bad unintentionally. Some of them, however, are made to be criminal. Algorithms are formal rules, usually written in computer code, that make predictions on future events based on historical patterns. To train an algorithm you need to provide historical data as well as a definition of success.

Thursday, July 20, 2017 - 12:57pm
Happy birthday to me, folks! I’m 45 today and my present was that I got the call I’ve been working towards for 6 months, since January: my insurance company has cleared me for the bariatric gastric sleeve surgery I’ve been talking about. In fact, I’m likely to get the surgery in about two weeks, before […]
Friday, July 7, 2017 - 11:41pm
I’ll be in London next week for my WMD softcover launch with Penguin UK. They’re having me do a bunch of stuff, and they even gave me this promotion card to show you: Please come by if you’re in London next week!
Thursday, July 6, 2017 - 3:39pm
I want to explain my reasoning, because it’s probably slightly deeper and more complex than most people imagine, unless they know me pretty well, in which case it might be simply baffling. A run-down: I love my round body. I am dreading losing a lot of weight in terms of what it will do to […]
Friday, June 30, 2017 - 9:40am
I’m back from Ireland. It was as magical as I’d hoped. We had such a blast and I’ll always remember the trip, and also how much more mature Wolfie is than me in the context of long lines at airports, even though he’s only 8 (his words: “Of course I do get impatient, mom, but […]
Monday, June 26, 2017 - 5:20pm
First of all, forgive me if I’m blathering on, I’ve been hanging out with an 8-year-old for a week so I’m kind of starved for adult conversation. And even if you can’t actually answer me in real time, your comments are very welcome. Second of all, I would like to comment on traveling in general. […]
Sunday, June 25, 2017 - 7:40am
In my previous post, I explained how my trip to Dublin with my son Wolfie came to be. Now I want to tell you what we’ve done so far. Day 1 – complaints We started with the standard squished-in-the-airplane for 7 hours, then spend forever getting luggage, then find slow shuttle bus to car rental, […]
Saturday, June 24, 2017 - 5:10pm
I’m here in Dublin with my son Wolfie for a week. It’s absolutely amazing. To understand why you’ll need to know how we decided to come here in the first place. It all started on St. Patrick’s Day, which my son happened to have off, and on which I happened to be procrastinating, so we […]
Monday, June 19, 2017 - 11:40am

This is a guest post, converted from a letter to me, by Derek Osborne, a father of four and active participant in his community with a strong belief that real change happens at the local level. Derek is a data scientist at Intel where he works on a team that utilizes machine learning techniques to optimize the workforce at Intel. Prior to working at Intel, he earned his Ph.D. from the University of Michigan in Biophysics.

I moved to Hillsboro, Oregon four years ago with my wife and three kids after finishing my Ph.D. at the University of Michigan. Like many parents when choosing a home, I checked on the school scores of the nearby elementary schools and there was a large variance in the Zillow school scores that are taken from

Wednesday, June 14, 2017 - 11:40am
My newest Bloomberg View column is out! What’s Wrong With Letting Tech Run Our Schools You can see all my Bloomberg columns here.
Wednesday, June 7, 2017 - 7:42am

I’ve got a new Bloomberg View column out: A Mathematician’s Secret: We’re Not All Geniuses   See all my Bloomberg View columns here.

For each certified genius, there are at least a hundred great people who helped achieve such outstanding results. You don’t have to be a genius to become a mathematician. If you find this statement at all surprising, you’re an example of what's wrong with the way our society identifies, encourages and rewards talent.
Tuesday, June 6, 2017 - 11:40am
Nerds, you’re in luck! We’ve designed Stacks Project Hoodies and they’re for sale. Please tell all your nerd friends to sign up by June 16th so we’ll have them printed in time for the Stack Project Workshop taking place in Michigan at the end of July. Here’s the Google form, have at it! Thanks to […]
Thursday, June 1, 2017 - 11:40am
I ranted against Silicon Valley “entrepreneurs” in my latest Bloomberg View column: Don’t Expect Tech to Care About Your Problems: Interplanetary travel is way more fun than accountability.   See all my Bloomberg View columns here.
Cathy O'Neil is the author of the blog and several books, including Weapons of Math Destruction.