book hack

The Shame Machine

Cathy O'Neil

5 mins

3 key insights

Visual, audio & text

In The Shame Machine, author Cathy O'Neil explores how shame is weaponized by corporations and governments to sell products and maintain the status quo, and how we can redirect this shame to bring about positive changes in society.


The Shame Machine

The Shame Machine

by Cathy O'Neil


We have all experienced something that made us feel ashamed — needing to borrow money, getting rejected, or being the butt of a joke. Shame plays on our insecurities and has long-lasting effects on our self-esteem. Yet shame works on a larger scale too, from weight-loss companies that use fatphobia as a marketing tactic to protest movements that shame powerful figures into enacting social change.

Author and data scientist Cathy O'Neil explores how governments, companies, and social media algorithms are geared towards exploiting our shame. However, shame can also be used for the sake of the social good. If we are all more aware of shame and how it can be used against us, we can make positive changes to our society.

Favorite quote

The shamescape features all of us. And above us, potent and profitable shame machines are whirring constantly. They dominate our economies and poison countless lives.

- Cathy O'Neil

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