(UPCOMING EVENT) May Contain Lies: misinformation and bias with Alex Edmans

What are your biases and how are they being exploited? On Tuesday 18th June 2024, the Wheeler Institute for Business and Development will welcome Alex Edmans (Professor of Finance at London Business School) for an in-person discussion of his new book, May Contain Lies: How Stories, Statistics and Studies Exploit Our Biases – And What We Can Do About It, moderated by Will Hutton (Journalist, author, and President of the Academy of Social Sciences).

Our lives are minefields of misinformation. It ripples through our social media feeds, our daily headlines, and the pronouncements of politicians, business leaders, and best-selling authors. Stories, statistics, and studies are everywhere, allowing people to find evidence to support whatever position they want. Many of these sources are flawed, yet by playing on our emotions and preying on our biases, they can gain widespread acceptance, warp our views, and distort our decisions.

In this eye-opening book, Alex Edmans teaches us how to separate fact from fiction. Using colourful examples – from a wellness guru’s tragic but fabricated backstory, to the blunders that led to the Deepwater Horizon disaster, and the diet that ensnared millions yet hastened its founder’s death – Edmans highlights the biases that cause us to mistake statements for facts, facts for data, data for evidence, and evidence for proof. Armed with the knowledge of what to guard against, he then provides a practical guide to combat this tide of misinformation. Going beyond simply checking the facts and explaining individual statistics, Edmans explores the relationships between statistics – the science of cause and effect – ultimately training us to think smarter, sharper, and more critically.

‘May Contain Lies’ focuses on two key biases: confirmation bias and black-and-white thinking. The former relates to the tendency to search for and interpret information that in some way confirms or supports one’s existing beliefs or values, and the latter denotes thought patterns that assign people, things, and actions into neatly delineated categories. Misinformation matters for a wide range of issues. Our collective understandings of climate change are particularly impacted by black-and-white thinking, for instance, which means that the human impact is often overlooked. Often, studies that gather information in developed countries assume that their findings are universal. What is the impact of these assumptions on developing countries, and how can we address it? How do our conversations need to change? Sign up now to learn more. 

Date: Tuesday 18th June
Time: 17.30-19.00 BST (with book signing taking place from 18.30) 
Location: Sammy Ofer Centre, Old Marylebone Hall, London Business School

About the Speakers

Alex Edmans is Professor of Finance at London Business School.  In 2013, he was awarded tenure at The Wharton School and in 2021, was named MBA Professor of the Year by Poets and Quants. Edmans writes regularly for the Wall Street Journal, Financial Times and Harvard Business Review. His first book Grow the Pie (Cambridge University Press) was a Financial Times Book of the Year. His TED talk ‘What to Trust in a Post-Truth World‘ has been viewed 2 million times. He has also spoken at Davos and Google.

Will Hutton is a British journalist and author. He currently writes a regular column for the Observer, is the president of the Academy of Social Sciences, hosts its We Society podcast and is co-chair of the Purposeful Company. He was formerly economics editor of the Guardian, editor-in-chief of the Observer and Principal of Hertford College Oxford. Hutton’s books include the bestselling The State We’re In, How Good We Can Be, The World We’re In and The Writing on the Wall.

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