Fresh Air
Fresh Air
Sep 15, 2020
The Strange Origin Story Of Data Science & Elections
Play episode · 49 min
Harvard historian and 'New Yorker' writer Jill Lepore tells the story of the Simulmatics Corporation. Founded in 1959, it used a so-called "people machine," a computer program it claimed could predict the impact of political messages or advertising pitches. At the time, Simulmatics drew condemnation from scholars and political leaders who saw it as a threat to democracy. But now, 60 years later, the company's data collection practices and predictive models have become commonplace among political campaigns.

Her book is 'If Then.' Also, Maureen Corrigan reviews Sue Miller's book 'Monogamy.'
On the Media
On the Media
WNYC Studios
OTM presents - Blindspot Ep. 5: The Idea
For this week's podcast extra, we're once more highlighting the work of our colleague Jim O'Grady and his brilliant podcast "Blindspot: The Road to 9/11." This is episode 5: The Idea. The World Trade Center was built with soaring expectations. Completed in 1973, its architect, Minoru Yamasaki, hoped the towers would stand as “a representation of man’s belief in humanity” and “world peace.” He even took inspiration from the Great Mosque in the holy city of Mecca with its tall minarets looking down on a sprawling plaza. What he did not expect was that the buildings would become a symbol to some of American imperialism and the strangling grip of global capitalism. Our story picks up in Manila — January 6th, 1995 — where police respond to an apartment fire and uncover a plot to assassinate the Pope. A suspect gives up his boss in the scheme: Ramzi Yousef, the mastermind of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. Yousef has been on the run for two years and has disappeared again. Port Authority Detective Matthew Besheer and FBI Special Agent Frank Pellegrino fly to Manila to follow his trail. They learn that Yousef has a horrifying attack in the works involving bombs on a dozen airplanes, rigged to explode simultaneously. President Bill Clinton grounds all U.S. flights from the Pacific as the era of enhanced airline security begins. Yousef’s plot is foiled. But what it reveals about his intentions is chilling.
55 min
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