Skip to content
Academics Campus & Community

Bestselling author Cathy O’Neil to deliver Norman Ford Lecture

Cathy O’Neil, a New York Times bestselling author, will deliver the 2023 Norman L. Ford Literacy Lecture at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 21, at the Pellegrene Auditorium on the Saint John’s University campus. 

The title of her talk is the same as the title of her bestselling book, Weapons of Math Destruction: How Big Data Increases Inequality and Threatens Democracy. It was a semifinalist for the National Book Award.

O’Neil is a thought leader exploring the realities and dangers of social networking, the consequences of algorithm design and defending human dignity in the context of predatory capitalism. A prolific voice in academia and the private sector, O’Neil also is a columnist for Bloomberg Opinion, a renowned blogger and her expertise was featured in the critically acclaimed documentary The Social Dilemma

O’Neill is the founder of ORCAA, a consultancy providing algorithmic auditing services focused on safety, fairness and principled use of data, and launched the Lede Program in Data Journalism at Columbia University. Her latest book, The Shame Machine: Who Profits in the New Age of Humiliation, investigates how shame functions as a tool across sectors, including government, the healthcare system and the wellness industry. 

With a Ph.D. in mathematics and background in finance and AdTech startups, O’Neil offers unparalleled insight and analysis about the challenges that lie ahead for individuals and businesses in our increasingly algorithmic world. 

The Ford Lecture Series addresses contemporary and cutting-edge scientific topics while encouraging students and the public to become more conversant with the relevance of science in our everyday lives. 

The series is made possible through the generous support of a Saint John’s alumnus who wanted to honor one of his favorite and most inspiring professors, Norman Ford, professor emeritus of biology. 

Ford taught biology at CSB and SJU for 31 years, until his retirement in 1998. A specialist in ornithology (a branch of zoology that concerns the study of birds), he was published widely in his field, and his skill as a professor was recognized in 1998 when he was presented with the Robert L. Spaeth Teacher of Distinction Award.

Cathy O'Neil

Cathy O’Neil, a New York Times bestselling author, will speak on Tuesday, March 21, at Saint John’s University about the realities and dangers of social networking, the consequences of algorithm design and defending human dignity in the context of predatory capitalism.