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True Enough: Learning to Live in a Post-Fact Society Hardcover – March 1, 2008

ISBN-13: 978-0470050101 ISBN-10: 0470050101 Edition: 1st

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Wiley; 1 edition (March 1, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0470050101
  • ISBN-13: 978-0470050101
  • Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 1 x 8.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (46 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #409,483 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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)

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Customer Reviews

The book is easy reading and enjoyable.
Huck DeVenzio
They rang true to me -- "ringing true" being another heuristic, by the way, that predisposes us to accept as factual things we already accept as true.
Jean E. Pouliot
Farhad Manjoo, a writer for Salon.com, has written an innovative book about the intersection of today's media and the truth.
canadageese

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

117 of 126 people found the following review helpful By canadageese on 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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81 of 89 people found the following review helpful By Jean E. Pouliot on 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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126 of 143 people found the following review helpful By watzizname VINE VOICE on 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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