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Bullspotting: Finding Facts in the Age of Misinformation [Kindle Edition]

Loren Collins
3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)

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Book Description

This entertaining and educational book applies the tools of critical thinking to identify the common features and trends among misinformation campaigns. With illustrations drawn from conspiracy theorists and deniers of every stripe, the author teaches readers how rumors are started, and the rhetorical techniques and logical fallacies often found in misleading or outright false claims.

What distinguishes real conspiracies from conspiracy theories, real science from pseudoscience, and actual history from bogus accounts purporting to be history? How does one evaluate the credibility of rumors and quotes or judge the soundness of legal arguments advanced by tax deniers? Readers will learn how to make these critical distinctions and also how to spot "evidence" that has been manufactured or manipulated in some way to create a false impression.

At a time when average citizens are bombarded with false information every day, this entertaining book will prove to be not only a great read but also an indispensable resource.


From the Trade Paperback edition.


Editorial Reviews

Review

"This is a book that everyone should take to heart. It reminds us that the human intellectual capacity for self-deception is infinite. A great read!"
- Nicholas Capaldi, director, Center for Spiritual Capital, Loyola University New Orleans, and author of The Art of Deception


"This highly readable and entertaining book is full of wonderful examples of BS. It also provides a very useful compendium of the warning signs of BS. We all need to build some immunity to BS - especially youngsters. This book is a good place to start."
- Dr. Stephen Law, philosopher and author of Believing Bullshit

About the Author

Loren Collins (Atlanta, GA) has been published in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution on the topics of misinformation and critical thinking. An attorney and firm associate with the Law Office of W. Bryant Green, III, P. C., he is the creator of www.BirthofaNotion.com, a website that debunks the fallacies propounded by "birthers" regarding the legitimacy of President Barack Obama's US citizenship.

Product Details

  • File Size: 607 KB
  • Print Length: 275 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1616146346
  • Publisher: Prometheus Books (October 30, 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00C4B2KJ2
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #787,422 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great and fun to read resource with a serious subject November 2, 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Bulls#*t can and should be a fun and often hilarious topic of discussion, but it can quickly become a sad and sometimes horrifying subject once one realizes just how many absurd beliefs are held by so many people. With that in mind, it is great how Collins writes in a way that is both entertaining and yet still serious. This book is not a complete exposé of all the bull out in the world, but Collins does expose the important underlying motivations and deceitful tactics used by various bull-mongerers so that readers can become proficiently equipped to spot bull for themselves. An obvious problem to this book is that its message will likely be ignored by those who need it most. As Collins explains throughout the book, peddlers of bull are too skilled at dodging, denying, and/or ignoring legitimate arguments and evidence to benefit from the more than reasonable message found in his book. But the book's likely inability to better inform those bull-believers who need it most provides more reason for the rest of us to utilize this resource and others like it. Just as vaccinations for infectious diseases become more beneficial to the proximate population as more individuals are immunized, the same goes for our society's ability to cultivate communities where individuals can think critically and not be duped by bull.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback
This book portrays itself as scientific antidote and critical thinking tool to fight birthers, truthers, holocaust denialists, conspiracy theorists and other quacks. Unfortunately, these targets are just too quirky: science cannot do much about, maybe psychiatry might. It is good to be critical, and Collins provides some really nice examples of uncovering internet rumors and misquotations. But you cannot really fight JFK assisination conspiratists with science.

I would recommend three more constructive books:
*Michael Shermer: Why do people believe weird things (this one tries to understand where do all these strange beliefs come from, and not just offer science antidote).
*Massimo Pigliucci: Nonsense on stilts (this one squarely puts science against law, religion, pseudoscience, and shows how science is different)
*Moti Ben-Ari: Just a theory (basics of philosophy of science in very digestible format: induction, hypothesis, statistics; plus sociology of science, postmodernist critique, reductionism...)
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A timely and entertaining guide to critical thinking November 17, 2012
Format:Paperback
The author of this book exposed one of the vilest hoaxes of the 2012 presidential campaign, that Barack Obama's mother once posed for pornographic photos. The author located the magazines that originally published the photos and, on his blog Barackryphal, he showed the photos were published when Obama's mother was only 15 years old and years before she moved to Hawaii where the photos were supposedly taken.

This excellent bit of research alone would make his new book on the art and science of detecting nonsense worth a look. However, he also turns out to be a clear, incisive writer who can tell an interesting story to illustrate a point.

The result is that even inveterate skeptics will find this book a good read. It provides a choice selection of recent hoaxes, conspiracies and false rumours to demonstrate how the tools of skepticism work. Perhaps because the author is a lawyer, the chapter on pseudolaw (legal theory that relies on frivolous arguments) is especially interesting.

As befitting a book on searching for truth, there are extensive notes and references at the end.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A vitally important book in this age of internet rumors November 15, 2012
Format:Paperback
On the heels of a contentious campaign for the US Presidency, a campaign that was rife with wildly jaw-dropping myths about the candidates, it's a relief to see a book that takes a reasoned and detailed look at where disinformation comes from, and how to spot it. Addressing a variety of subjects, from the Birther movement to the "fake" moon landing to the anti-vaccination movement, the author takes aim at both sides of the political spectrum, and he pulls no punches. BULLSPOTTING makes a resounding case that gullibility -- and sometimes outright stupidity -- hews to no particular political party.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Format:Kindle Edition
Loren Collins takes a look under the hood of many of our USAmerican culture's most prominent conspiracy theories (from JFK to 9/11), Denialists (Birthers and Moon-Hoaxers), and categories like pseudo-science (Young-Earthers), pseudo-history (Holocaust Deniers) and pseudo-law (Soveriegn-Citizen Tax Evaders). These are just the biggest examples, but other oddities and amusements are sown generously throughout the text. I have to admit that sometimes I was so appalled at what Collins described and the general inanities of the arguments used by those under his microscope that I simply could not look away. I HAD to keep reading just out of sheer, morbid curiosity. And Collins did not disappoint. I wish the book had been a bit longer, but for people looking for an interesting commuter/ airplane read or a text that you can pick up in the midst of many interruptions and still stick with and finish, Bullspotting is excellent. You will laugh and be engaged, but most of all you are likely to smack yourself in the forehead and (if you're like me), say to yourself, "I know a guy just like that!!"

Collins' book is particularly engaging and relevant in an age where (thanks to the Internet) misinformation abounds and any crack-pot can create his or her own blog and instantly attract like-minded nutters. A brief glance at the smattering of 1-star "reviews" that this book received here on Amazon is further evidence that such folks don't like getting called out on their delusions. My favorite one is from the guy who announces to us all that he is a Birther, or the type of bloke who refuses to accept that President Obama is a legal, natural-born citizen of the United States. What can rational and reasonable people even say to such characters?
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
1.0 out of 5 stars this book became outdated very quickly.
this book became outdated very quickly.
Published 8 days ago by Michael Schwarz
5.0 out of 5 stars Bullhocky Busting For Fun and Profit
"The first principle is that you must not fool yourself--and you are the easiest person to fool."
--Richard Feynman

This book is based on the simple premise that... Read more
Published 8 months ago by Kevin L. Nenstiel
3.0 out of 5 stars Review of Bullspotting
I thought it was a good book and would recommend it, but there seems to be much redundant material. However, I learned a few things from reading it.
Published 9 months ago by Amazon Customer
2.0 out of 5 stars Spotted
I am disheartened to see the overwhelmingly favorable reviews this confused little volume has attracted. Read more
Published 9 months ago by Jim
4.0 out of 5 stars Improve your critical thinking
People can easily be fooled, and common sense is not always the best indicator of truth. Subject to all sorts of biases and prejudices, even the most rational among us can be... Read more
Published 12 months ago by G. Wagner
1.0 out of 5 stars Loren Collins is a baloney man.
I purchased this book earlier this year (March, 2013) here at Amazon.com

In the first paragraph of Chapter 1, or `Baloney Detection', we find that Collins confidently... Read more
Published 18 months ago by Lucas Daniel Smith
5.0 out of 5 stars A guide for rationalists
Excellent summary of techniques for denying the deniers. Succinct and definitive. Keep this handy for confronting the conspiracists and other assorted nutcases; would also be... Read more
Published 18 months ago by Robert Haley
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the better inttos to critical thinking
If you use the internet, this book is an essential introduction to separating fact from fiction on the web.

Do yourself a favor and read this one.
Published 19 months ago by Dave Boggess
3.0 out of 5 stars Bullsh.....g more likely
It wasn't very well backed up. Could use more documentation & less opinion. Mr. Collins showed his bias rather than expertise.
Published 20 months ago by Michael A. Strem
4.0 out of 5 stars Bull's Eye
A good book for learning to spot pseudo-scholarship of any kind. Keeping misinformation out of your brain is easier than purging it once entrenched.
Published 21 months ago by Craig
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