Culture Crash 19-11: Do we all have the cultural taste of our 15 year-old selves?

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Welcome to Culture Crash, where we examine what’s new and old in entertainment.

There’s an anecdote from a 2015 Hollywood Reporter profile on Lorne Michaels, the famed producer of Saturday Night Live, that has always stuck with me. Michaels has been the man in charge of SNL since its inception back in 1975, which means he’s overseen the iconic series through generations of new writers and performers and he’s heard time and again that his show just ain’t what it used to be. Michaels has seen this cycle often enough and in regards to so many different casts that he has reached a simple conclusion: Everyone says the show peaked when they were in high school.

One high school senior’s favorite cast is a disappointment to a bunch of 20-somethings.

This is a tale as old as time. Older generations lament younger generations’ taste in everything. Famously, this is true of music. Older generations despised the music of Elvis, then the Rolling Stones, and now, I guess, Kanye West. In fact, in a similar vein to Michael’s anecdotal discovery, data scientist Seth Stephens-Davidowitz writes in his book Everybody Lies that Spotify data suggests our favorite music is what we grew up with. Specifically, he says women’s musical taste is formed between 11 and 14, while men’s taste is formed between 13 and 16. Stephens-Davidowitz says for instance, that “Creep” by Radiohead, is the 164th most popular song among men on the cusp of 40, but it doesn’t even rank in the top 300 of men nearing 30 or 50.

We like what we liked in high school. 

And I can add to the phenomenon: My favorite movie is Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight. I’ve often said nothing will ever top the experience I had of going to the theater at midnight when I was 15 years old, tagging along with my brother and watching the comic book crime epic unfold and… it turns out, I’m probably right. It’s not necessarily because it’s the best movie of all-time, but it mattered to me the most when my receptors were at their height.

I appreciate new music and new books and new music, and I flock to see new movies. I often love them. Maybe I’ll even watch some Saturday Night Live highlights. But for me, those things all peaked in the late 2000s. For you, they probably peaked when you were 15. And of course, this is all fine. But let’s all get along about it. People can like different things, and we should probably try to keep these things in mind and cut younger generations some slack when they say some new movie or new song is their favorite ever. It’s just human nature.

For links to the Hollywood Reporter profile (on Lorne Michaels) and to purchase Seth Stephens-Davidowitz’s book (Everybody Lies: Big Data, New Data, and What the Internet Can Tell Us About Who We Really Are) head to our site

I’m Evan Rook. 

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19-09 Segment 1: What Big Data Can Teach Us About Ourselves

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These days, there is data on just about everything. Our social media presence, our careers, our web search history- it’s all crunched into data points. And author Seth Stephens-Davidowitz says all that data can shed plenty of light on the truth about who we really are underneath all of our social formalities.


  • Seth Stephens-Davidowitz, author, Everbody Lies: Big data, new data, and what the internet can tell us about who we really are

Links for more information:

Stay in the loop! Follow us on Twitter and like us on Facebook! Subscribe and review on iTunes!

17-27 Segment 1: What Big Data Can Teach Us About Ourselves


Have you ever lied on a survey or a social media post? Stephens-Davidowitz says that almost all of us do. He researched the data of big websites like Google and Facebook to discover that what people say or post about themselves often seems contradictory to what their internet searches reveal about their interests or beliefs.

Ever since the introduction of Google, Big Data has been a large part of our lives. Every  time you’ve ever searched something on the internet, you’ve added to the Big Data about you. Although you may not realize it, data experts are analyzing your online behavior to learn more about you, your lifestyle and your spending habits – and it’s all based off of what you search. In his new book Everybody Lies: Big Data, New Data, and What the Internet Can Tell Us About Who We Really Are, Stephens-Davidowitz dives into some deep truths about ourselves and our data we might not want to hear.

From the Foreword to Everybody Lies by Steven Pinker, author of The Better Angels of our Nature:

Blending the informed analysis of The Signal and the Noise with the instructive iconoclasm of Think Like a Freak, a fascinating, illuminating, and witty look at what the vast amounts of information now instantly available to us reveals about ourselves and our world—provided we ask the right questions.

By the end of an average day in the early twenty-first century, human beings searching the internet will amass eight trillion gigabytes of data. This staggering amount of information—unprecedented in history—can tell us a great deal about who we are—the fears, desires, and behaviors that drive us, and the conscious and unconscious decisions we make. From the profound to the mundane, we can gain astonishing knowledge about the human psyche that less than twenty years ago, seemed unfathomable.

Everybody Lies offers fascinating, surprising, and sometimes laugh-out-loud insights into everything from economics to ethics to sports to race to sex, gender and more, all drawn from the world of big data. What percentage of white voters didn’t vote for Barack Obama because he’s black? Does where you go to school affect how successful you are in life? Do parents secretly favor boy children over girls? Do violent films affect the crime rate? Can you beat the stock market? How regularly do we lie about our sex lives and who’s more self-conscious about sex, men or women?

Investigating these questions and a host of others, Seth Stephens-Davidowitz offers revelations that can help us understand ourselves and our lives better. Drawing on studies and experiments on how we really live and think, he demonstrates in fascinating and often funny ways the extent to which all the world is indeed a lab. With conclusions ranging from strange-but-true to thought-provoking to disturbing, he explores the power of this digital truth serum and its deeper potential—revealing biases deeply embedded within us, information we can use to change our culture, and the questions we’re afraid to ask that might be essential to our health—both emotional and physical. All of us are touched by big data everyday, and its influence is multiplying. Everybody Lies challenges us to think differently about how we see it and the world.

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Subscribe and review on iTunes!


  • Seth Stephens-Davidowitz, author of Everybody Lies: Big Data, New Data, and What the Internet Can Tell Us About Who We Really Are

Links for more information:

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