True Enough: Learning to Live in a Post-Fact Society

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9780470580080: True Enough: Learning to Live in a Post-Fact Society

Why has punditry lately overtaken news? Why do lies seem to linger so long in the cultural subconscious even after they’ve been thoroughly discredited? And why, when more people than ever before are documenting the truth with laptops and digital cameras, does fact-free spin and propaganda seem to work so well? True Enough explores leading controversies of national politics, foreign affairs, science, and business, explaining how Americans have begun to organize themselves into echo chambers that harbor diametrically different facts—not merely opinions—from those of the larger culture.

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From the Inside Flap:

Picture yourself at a college football championship game. Cheering fans of both teams clog the stands. The play is rough, and the crowd is fed up. Supporters of each side insist that their own guys are playing fair but the other team is clearly breaking the rules. How can both sides be right? According to the surprising insights of True Enough, they are: when sports fans claim to see only the opposing team playing dirty, that really is what they "see." It is a classic example of how our deeply held beliefs can supplant our very perceptions of what's "real" and what's not in the world around us. And as Farhad Manjoo explains, the phenomenon holds sway in areas far removed from football.

In True Enough, Manjoo presents findings from psychology, sociology, political science, and economics to show how new technologies are prompting the cultural ascendancy of belief over fact. In an age of talk radio, cable TV, and the Internet—the blog- and YouTube-addled million-channel media universe—it is no longer necessary for any of us to confront notions that contradict what we "know" to be true. Stephen Colbert calls this "truthiness"—when something feels true without any evidence that it is. Here Manjoo probes the cognitive basis of truthiness, exploring how biases push both liberals and conservatives to select and interpret news in a way that accords with their personal versions of "reality."

Why has punditry lately overtaken news, with so many media outlets pushing partisan agendas instead of information? Why do lies seem to linger so long in the cultural subconscious even after they've been thoroughly discredited? And why, when more people than ever before are documenting the truth with laptops and digital cameras, does fact-free spin and propagandaseem to work so well? True Enough explores leading controversies of national politics, foreign affairs, science, and business, explaining how Americans have begun to organize themselves into echo chambers that harbor diametrically different facts—not merely opinions—from those of the larger culture. We meet people who espouse far-out interpretations of reality—about everything from the history of John Kerry's time in Vietnam to the integrity of the 2004 election to the truth about 9/11—and dig into the mechanism by which they came to hold those beliefs.

Controversial, at times disturbing, and always fascinating, True Enough will prompt you to think twice about how you too came to believe all that you do. Are your own truths really true—or merely true enough?

From the Back Cover:

Advance praise for True Enough

"The news media are supposed to help us understand the world, and faster, better, more varied commun-ication technologies are supposed to enrich that process of understanding. True Enough explains why things have so often worked in reverse—and why Americans no longer disagree just about opinions and political values, but about basic factual realities. This problem of 'truthiness' is depressingly familiar, but Farhad Manjoo adds useful information and insights about its origins, effects, and possible solutions."
—James Fallows, National Correspondent for the Atlantic Monthly and author of Breaking the News

"Well worth reading. Make no mistake: this is no run-of-the-mill exposé of media bias, but a sophisticated analysis of the ways and means by which lies and distortions do so well in today's fractured, cynical media world."
—Todd Gitlin, Professor of Journalism and Sociology, Columbia University, and author of The Bulldozer and the Big Tent

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Manjoo, Farhad
Published by Wiley (2009)
ISBN 10: 0470580089 ISBN 13: 9780470580080
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