Wednesday, October 7, 2009

MIT, tabasco sauce and facebook

Okay I'm really glad it's so hard to get into places like MIT because if it weren't we wouldn't have a special place for geniuses like this to do their very special "thing".

You don't really have to spend too much time reading that article because what it says is that you can tell a man is gay by the company he keeps on facebook. Ok. I'll buy that for a dollar but do we need guys at MIT to be telling us this? Because you know who can tell us this? Facebook. No really, what was the assignment they were given? Find a mathematical equation to state the obvious and then publish your results? Really, MIT? REALLY?

I am so going to rant about this in 5, 4, 3, 2, 1.

First of all, "As part of the study the researchers Carter Jernigan and Behram Mistree scanned the Facebook friends of more than 1,500 fellow students who indicated their sexual orientation – straight, gay or bisexual – on their profiles."

So wait, you go to MIT and your big idea is to identify who is gay on a social network by asking by asking them if they're gay. Then you facebook stalk their friends. Determine which of THOSE are gay. And then you publish your results as if they are correct and true.

So the results look something like this: "Out of 100 people who identified as gay and had a bunch of gay friends, we found 100 of them were gay. It follows that if you don't say you are gay and all of your friends are gay and they say they're gay on facebook, people might find out you are gay. Or think you are gay even if they don't find out you are gay. So don't friend any gays unless you want to be OUTED by a mathematical computation that THEN emails your mother with the subject line "Guess what, Mom, I have something to tell you." And ..... oh did we mention it's a facebook privacy issue?"

Well thank you, MIT, because you have now mathematically determined that "you don’t have control over your information." Even though everyone already knows that it's harder to open a fresh bottle of Tabasco sauce than it is to keep something private on facebook, now we have the power of Math, thank Apollo, to prove it.

Proof. Good word to focus on for a nanosecond. "Jernigan and Mistree say they are attempting to get their study, titled Gaydar, published in a scientific journal." But how do you prove your results because all I can see is that you proved people who say they are gay are, in fact, gay.

Call it scientific but let me ask you this: Once you do that, how do you prove that his friends are gay? So what if he has 10 gay friends? How do you know any of them are gay? Do you ask him? Do you ask them? How did you get that information? Is it facebook that has privacy issues or is it MIT?