Kalev Leetaru

Don't Blame CNN for the Ebola Panic

If you crunch the data, the mainstream media has actually been pretty levelheaded.

.lightbox { /** Default lightbox to hidden */ display: none; /** Position and style */ position: fixed; z-index: 999; width: 100%; height: 100%; text-align: center; top: 0; left: 0; background: rgba(0,0,0,0.8); } .lightbox img { /** Pad the lightbox image */ width: 960px; margin-top: 3%; overflow:scroll; } .lightbox:target { /** Remove default browser outline */ outline: none; /** Unhide lightbox **/ display: block; overflow:scroll; } No wonder we're scared of Ebola. The current outbreak could become the "definitive humanitarian disaster of our generation," warns Oxfam. World Bank head Jim Yong Kim goes as far as to say that "we are losing the battle," and now it's come to the heart of hipster Brooklyn. Last week, President Barack Obama attempted to calm an increasingly jittery public by arguing that "what we're seeing now is not an outbreak or an epidemic of Ebola in America" and that "we can't give in to hysteria or fear." 

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Why Big Data Missed the Early Warning Signs of Ebola

Hint: Ils ne parlent pas le français.

With the Centers for Disease Control now forecasting up to 1.4 million new infections from the current Ebola outbreak, what could "big data" do to help us identify the earliest warnings of future outbreaks and track the movements of the current outbreak in realtime? It turns out that monitoring the spread of Ebola can teach us a lot about what we missed -- and how data mining, translation, and the non-Western world can help to provide better early warning tools.

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Playing Nostradamus

Big data show that history does indeed repeat itself. What does that mean for foreign policymaking -- and tackling crises from Ukraine to Syria?

Working in policymaking is a lot like being a real-life time traveler: It is an inherently forward-looking process in which decisions are made today based on an estimate of what tomorrow might look like. Yet as the finger-pointing that accompanies every global crisis, from Ukraine to Syria, makes clear, humanity's ability to forecast the future is poor at best.

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Everybody Loves Bashar

Why does the world's media see Bashar al-Assad as invulnerable and Vladimir Putin on the wane?

On June 4, Syria's Bashar al-Assad won reelection again, bagging 88.7 percent of the vote, in a war-torn country he seemed on the verge of losing shortly ago. Meanwhile, Vladimir Putin is busy grinning for the cameras in France, while Russian irregular forces continue to destabilize Ukraine with impunity. But are these leaders really as secure as they appear? Can big data shed light on how Assad regained momentum in Syria or whether Putin's grip on Crimea might be slipping? In particular, can we use the "tone" of the world's news media coverage of the two leaders as a sort of popularity index that might give us insights into their respective futures, much as it offers insights into the stability of nations?

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Did the Arab Spring Really Spark a Wave of Global Protests?

The world may look like it's roiling now, but the 1980s were far worse.

As the remnants of the Arab Spring's wave of uprisings continue to wrack the Middle East, as Thailand and Venezuela convulse, and as Ukraine spirals into possible civil war, a question heard ever more frequently in the halls of Washington is whether the world is coming apart at the seams. That may well be hyperbole, but more analytical minds that I've spoken to recently still wonder whether the Arab Spring was the catalyst that tipped populations across the world to rise up against their governments. While political pundits and subject matter experts have responded with a myriad of thought pieces, there has been a lack of quantitative data placing the recent protests into historical context.

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