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True Enough: Learning to Live in a Post-Fact Society [Kindle Edition]

Farhad Manjoo
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (44 customer reviews)

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Book Description

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.


Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In 2005, Stephen Colbert catapulted the word truthiness—the quality of an idea feeling true without any backup evidence—into the public consciousness. Salon blogger Manjoo expands upon this concept in his perceptive analysis of the status of truth in the digital age, critiquing a Rashomon-like world in which competing versions of truth vie for our attention. Driven by research and study, the book relies on abstract psychological and sociological concepts, such as selective exposure and peripheral processing, though these are fleshed out with examples from American history, politics and media. For example, Manjoo demonstrates how the Swift Boat Veterans' negative campaign derailed John Kerry's 2004 presidential run. He also points out that the sheer quantity of 9/11 imagery has engendered more conspiracy theories, not fewer—demonstrating, he says, the disjunction between truth and proof. Manjoo rounds out his analysis by examining the workings of partisan news realities, and he points out that the first casualty in these truth wars is a basic human and civic need: trust. Though several of the author's ideas are repetitiously threaded through his narrative, Manjoo has produced an engaging, illustrative look at the dangers of living in an oversaturated media world. (Mar.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Review

* In 2005, Stephen Colbert catapulted the word “truthiness”—the quality of an idea “feeling” true without any backup evidence—into the public consciousness. Salon blogger Manjoo expands upon this concept in his perceptive analysis of the status of truth in the digital age, critiquing a Rashomon-like world in which competing versions of truth vie for our attention. Driven by research and study, the book relies on abstract psychological and sociological concepts, such as “selective exposure” and “peripheral processing,” though these are fleshed out with examples from American history, politics and media. For example, Manjoo demonstrates how the Swift Boat Veterans' negative campaign derailed John Kerry's 2004 presidential run. He also points out that the sheer quantity of 9/11 imagery has engendered more conspiracy theories, not fewer—demonstrating, he says, the disjunction between truth and proof. Manjoo rounds out his analysis by examining the workings of “partisan news realities,” and he points out that the first casualty in these truth wars is a basic human and civic need: trust. Though several of the author's ideas are repetitiously threaded through his narrative, Manjoo has produced an engaging, illustrative look at the dangers of living in an oversaturated media world. (Mar.) (Publishers Weekly, January 28, 2008)

Product Details

  • File Size: 375 KB
  • Print Length: 260 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0470050101
  • Publisher: Wiley; 1 edition (December 28, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B004I8UYDS
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #533,375 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
116 of 125 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic book! March 23, 2008
Format:Hardcover
Farhad Manjoo, a writer for Salon.com, has written an innovative book about the intersection of today's media and the truth. Manjoo chooses particular popular ideas, such as 9/11 conspiracy theories, that run contrary to the generally-accepted truth, and explores how these ideas have gained momentum through the rise of what he calls "splintering" media. He posits that with the increased number and variety of news sources, we are able to pick and choose the news and truths that most agree with our already held beliefs, thus blurring the idea of what is considered "true".

For example, he talks about how the rise of conservative radio and the Internet supported the growth of the Swift Boat campaign, an anti-Kerry campaign based largely on conjecture without proof. Before the Internet and niche media such as conservative radio existed, extremist right-wing ideas would likely have been limited to just a few believers. But with today's media options and the plethora of right-wing radio and Web sites, the Swift Boat campaign was able to gain plenty of supporters nationwide and lots of donations, until the campaign was able to run anti-John Kerry ads during the 2004 election, which many think significantly damaged Kerry's campaign.

Some of the other, quite diverse, topics covered in the book include news stories that are actually paid ads (which I found fascinating), the rise of 9/11 conspiracy theories, and why Apple enthusiasts aren't able to stomach criticism about their beloved products. But what I really liked about this book was how he discusses the psychological and sociological underpinnings about why we believe what we believe, and how we unwittingly pick and choose our own media sources often to confirm our pre-held beliefs.
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80 of 87 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Explains a lot of things April 3, 2008
Format:Hardcover
I've been noticing -- for quite some time now -- that there is a breakdown of trust in authorities in our society. Or rather a reshifting from those whose authority was widely accepted to those who authority is either self-proclaimed or of dubious worth. A religious person with a masters in theology, I once participated in one of those internet discussion areas about religion. There, my more-or-less educated voice had exactly the same worth as the noisiest and most ignorant participant. More often than not, my reasoned, fact-based opinions were dismissed in favor of those held by people who the poster already agreed with .

Farhad Manjoo's book both describes this phenomenon and attempts to get beneath its surface. He cites examples from both sides of the aisle -- the attack of "Swift Boat Veterans for Truth" on Senator John Kerry's Vietnam heroism as well as the claim of certain Democrats that George W. Bush had stolen the 2004 election in Ohio and Florida. Manjoo exposes the personal vendettas (Swift Boaters) and the mistaken calculations (Dems) that started the ball rolling. He then shows the steps by which the groups attracted public's attention, twisting facts into alternate realities that finally made their way into the partisan echo chambers where their tiny, tinny voices boomed loud and strong. Manjoo also introduces the reader to the psycho-perceptual processes by which human beings in a information-drenched world make decisions. In line with other recent books (such as "Kluge" by Gary Marcus) Manjoo unveils the heuristics, the shortcuts, through which humans beings evaluate reality. Too busy to research car brands? Let a consumer magazine (or your favorite local TV anchor; or your intimidating brother in law) make the decision for you.
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125 of 141 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Too Often Truthiness Thoroughly Trumps Truth March 27, 2008
Format:Hardcover
Stephen Colbert isn't really a right-wing nutcase; he just plays one on TV. We can be reasonably sure that when he promoted the term 'truthiness' to denote a claim that feels right, even if there is no factual evidence to support it, he was making fun of certain right-wingers whose fact-checking is mostly internal; who will accept as true a story that fits with their worldview, regardless of the facts. Of course this is a universal human tendency, to which left-wingers are not immune, but Manjoo cites scientific studies that indicate that right-wingers are more susceptible to it (see below).

Manjoo tells the story of the 'Swift Boat Veterans for Truth,' who created an almost entirely fictional story of John Kerry's service in Vietnam to discredit his record as a war hero, because they were deeply offended by his declaration of opposition to the war before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee after he returned from Vietnam. The SBV version was first presented publicly on numerous radio talk programs, with conservative hosts and audiences, to whom that version was truthy because they already held a low opinion of Democrats in general and a high opinion of George W. Bush. It felt right to them, and they accepted it as true, an opinion many hold to this day, despite conclusive evidence that Kerry did, in fact, genuinely earn his medals, and was truly a war hero.

This accords well with the observation of cognitive scientists that when the facts don't fit a person's frame, the frame stays and the facts are ignored or denied. (see Moral Politics : How Liberals and Conservatives Think, by George Lakoff.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent.
Well reaearched and very readable. The 'case studies' provided good examples of the theories he is proposing. Highly recommend it.
Published 1 month ago by Kathleen Hynes
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent book with lots of good insights
A timely and highly relevant topic that analyzes why/how political and scientific partisanship happens. Very good case studies and well researched. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Andras Baneth
5.0 out of 5 stars A book everyone in the world should read
If I could choose only a few books for everyone in the world to read, True Enough would be among them. Read more
Published 6 months ago by Gordon Landwirth
5.0 out of 5 stars An Eye Opener
Reading this book is like finding out Santa Claus is your parents. You wish it was not true but you cannot deny the facts.
Published 9 months ago by @DrCarlHoffman
1.0 out of 5 stars The Media are to Blame, Really?
Such a book must be written by a young man, who thinks everything is just being discovered.

I would say the electronic world makes it easier to ferret out the facts,... Read more
Published 13 months ago by Gregory JP Richards
5.0 out of 5 stars Good Book
I needed this for a writers class called "Writer as Witness," and am pleased with the information on journalistic and political spin. A good and informative read,.
Published 14 months ago by Lani
1.0 out of 5 stars Not Objective
I really wanted to enjoy a decent book on said subject, so I picked this up and was greatly disappointed with it. Read more
Published 19 months ago by North Korean 1
5.0 out of 5 stars Insightful
I thought this book was insightful and articulated some concepts that were bothering me about elections in particular. Read more
Published 19 months ago by David C
2.0 out of 5 stars Might be informative if you know absolutely nothing
I really enjoy Farhad Manjoo's writing on Slate, but I was disappointed by this book.

"True Enough" has some very basic insight that most people are already aware of. Read more
Published on March 22, 2012 by Josh Gross
4.0 out of 5 stars Eye-Opener!
What few doubts I had before have gone by the wayside after reading this book. An eye-opener as to what we can assume these days...couldn't put it down! Read more
Published on February 3, 2012 by KTDidd
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