- Paperback: 208 pages
- Publisher: Random House Trade Paperbacks; unknown edition (April 24 2007)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1400065666
- ISBN-13: 978-1400065660
- Product Dimensions: 13.2 x 1.2 x 20.3 cm
- Shipping Weight: 154 g
- Average Customer Review: 1 customer review
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #480,129 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
unSpun: Finding Facts in a World of Disinformation Paperback – Apr 24 2007
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From Publishers Weekly
According to Jamieson and Jackson, both of the University of Pennsylvania's Annenberg Public Policy Center, "spin is a polite word for deception," and deception is everywhere. As a remedy, they offer this media literacy crash course. The authors explore spin's warning signs ("If it's scary, be wary") and the tricks used to bring people around to a certain point of view ("The implied falsehood," "Frame it and claim it"), as well as the lessons to call on when confronted with conflicting or suspect stories ("Extraordinary claims need extraordinary evidence"). Although they tackle the checkered history of product pitches (from snake oil to Cold-Eeze), what stands out is their keen insight into Washington politics, where "deception is a bipartisan enterprise," as illustrated by Bush and Kerry in the 2004 presidential election (in which both fudged the facts of unemployment and taxation). September 11 and the run-up to Gulf War II give the authors their most convincing talking points, debunking myths and chronicling Washington's use of "fear, uncertainty, and doubt"-cited so often it gets the acronym "FUD"-to generate public support for the 2003 invasion. However, the rules to avoid these and other carefully enumerated tricks range from commonsensical ("You can't be completely certain") to labor intensive ("Check primary sources"), leaving one to wonder whether the spin doctors have already won out over energy- and time-deficient Americans.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
“Read this book and you will not go unarmed into the political wars ahead of us. Jackson and Jamieson equip us to be our own truth squad, and that just might be the salvation of democracy.” —Bill Moyers
“The definitive B.S. detector—an absolutely invaluable guidebook.”—Mark Shields, syndicated columnist and political analyst, NewsHour with Jim Lehrer
“unSpun is an essential guide to cutting through the political fog. Just in time for the 2008 campaign, Brooks Jackson and Kathleen Hall Jamieson have written a citizen’s guide to avoiding the malarkey of partisan politics.”—Mara Liasson, NPR national political correspondent
“The Internet may be a wildly effective means of communication and an invaluable source of knowledge, but it has also become a new virtual haven for scammers–financial, political, even personal. Better than anything written before, unSpun shows us how to recognize these scams and protect ourselves from them.”—Craig Newmark, founder and customer service representative, Craigslist
Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
This shows how mere mortals can do it...what questions to ask, where to go for critical backup, what to do...and how not to fall into traps designed to catch us all.
As an advanced factchecker, I highly recommend this as starter material...this could be enhanced by being updated to current references and challenges (it IS 10 years old) and references for deepening ones skills, both in numerical and linguistic arenas.
The immediacy of using current examples (this is heavy on examples from the 2004 election, Iraq war, etc) is why I took off 1 star.
This first part was harder to get thru, but got much better as you go on.
That said, it still has much, much to offer...including how to evaluate polls, language and more.
I could only wish this was a Kindle textbook, for the advanced study features they offer.
Actually, no, I wasn't. But it seems too many people are unaware of the degree to which they are being "spun" and the ways in which the facts are being distorted to create a particular impression.
The authors have written a clear, concise, and direct treatise on the subject. This should be required reading for all citizens in this country, and probably also should be taught in the schools. They have organized their discourse into several sections:
* Warning signs of trickery - Seven key warning signs that one is being "spun."
* Tricks - Eight proven tricks used against the public.
* Rules for How to be Sure - Nine invaluable rules to follow when trying to sort fact from fiction.
Each of these signs, tricks, and rules is illustrated with revealing and amusing tales of successful flim-flam.
Between the Tricks and the Rules are excellent chapters on the psychological reasons we fall for such tricks, techniques for avoiding falling for hoaxes, and a clear argument that facts can save your life.
Some, such as William Lutz in "Doublespeak" (1989), have exposed the techniques used and inveighed against them.
Others, such as Farhad Manjoo in "True Enough: Learning to Live in a Post-Fact Society" (2008), have addressed some of the psychological reasons and methods people manage to avoid reasoning based on the facts.
Jackson and Jamieson have cut to the chase and offered a clear and concise manual for understanding the techniques used and making oneself proof against them
This book is a must-read and a real "keeper."
This book explain to the reader when spin typically happens, how to recognize it, how to be on the lookout for it, and how to verify what the facts really are. Reading it and the examples given, I was suprised by how much I do. I have quite a bit of experiance verifying sources, questioning numbers, and scouring reports to see how the numbers have been crunched (I'm one of those librarians they mention in chapter 7), but I get taken in too-I had one of those Ab belts and thought that the bin Lauden family was allowed to fly out soon after 9/11. Of course, I had to read this book with an equally critical eye-I still wonder how some of the questions were formed in all those studies they cited...
Oh, and if you're like me and immediatly start looking for the bibliography-it's on their web page, not in the book.
With political ads, news bits (which seems to be ongoing political ads most of the time) and presidential debates heating up, this book is more and more useful.