Mind, Technology, and Society Talk Series

Tyler Schnoebelen
Chief Analyst and Founder, Idibon
Time/Date: 3-4:30 p.m. Monday,October 12, 2015

Chancellor’s Conference Room, KL 232

Conspiracy, complaints, and fraud: the language of reasons


What makes someone on Reddit posting about conspiracies sound particularly paranoid? How do corporations detect employees committing fraud? When consumers file complaints against financial institutions, how do they tell their stories? Rationality and causation are themes that unite these three questions. Individuals differ by when they offer reasons, how complex these reasons are, and how they are judged afterwards. In this talk, I’ll focus primarily on differences across individuals and contexts in terms of the use of the word “because”, demonstrating the important role emotion has to play in the moments when people are displaying reasoning. Methods include techniques from sociolinguistics, corpus linguistics, and computational linguistics.

Suggested reading:

Larcker, David F., and Anastasia A. Zakolyukina. “Detecting deceptive discussions in conference calls.” Journal of Accounting Research 50.2 (2012): 495-540


Tyler is a founder and Chief Analyst at Idibon, a text analytics start-up in San Francisco. He has ten years of experience in UX design/research in Silicon Valley and a Ph.D. from Stanford in linguistics. His work there included experimental psycholinguistics, fieldwork on endangered languages, and a dissertation on emotion (he got his BA at Yale studying playwriting and poetry). His insights on language (especially social media) have been featured in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Atlantic, and NPR.

Idibon’s website is http://idibon.com/.