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Myths, Lies and Downright Stupidity: Get Out the Shovel - Why Everything You Know is Wrong Paperback – Bargain Price, May 1, 2007

3.9 out of 5 stars 337 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

ABC News correspondent Stossel mines his 20/20 segments for often engaging, frequently tendentious challenges to conventional wisdom, presenting a series of "myths" and then deploying an investigative journalism shovel to unearth "truth." This results in snappy debunkings of alarmism, witch-hunts, satanic ritual abuse prosecutions and marketing hokum like the irradiated-foods panic, homeopathic medicine and the notion that bottled water beats tap. Stossel's libertarian convictions make him particularly fond of exposés of government waste and regulatory fiascoes, which are usually effective but lead inexorably to blanket denunciations of "monster government" and sermons on the wisdom of the market. Sloganeering—"Myth: The EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission) will make America less sexist. Truth: The EEOC will torment people and enrich lawyers"—sometimes crowds out objectivity. The author's complacent glosses on overpopulation and global warming ("we can build dykes and move back from the coasts") are especially glib and one-sided. Fans of Stossel's similarly opinionated bestseller Give Me a Break will eat up this new book, but other readers may wince when the author's ideology overshadows the facts.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Investigative reporter for ABC's 20/20, Stossel is well known for his impatient "Give Me a Break" reports uncovering wrongdoing. With a writing style that is similar to his television personality--lots of questions and exclamatory statements--Stossel debunks several popular misconceptions from media bias to world overpopulation. In separate chapters, he turns an investigative eye toward the media, business, government, education, the sexes, consumers, law, experts on everything, religion, health, parenting, and the pursuit of happiness. In the business section, he takes a generally pro-business position, attacking myths regarding the notion that big business is anti-consumer and exploits workers. He counterbalances by examining the myth that American business believes in free markets. The Truth: most businesspeople don't care about free markets, and will stifle competition if it serves their interest. Regarding government, Stossel attempts to strike a similar balance, attacking the myths that Republicans shrink government and that government helps the needy. Stossel tackles more mundane subjects in the health section, exploding myths that being cold gives you a cold and chocolate is bad for you. Each debunking is backed up with research and interviews. He concludes with a chapter that acknowledges readers' natural curiosity about where he stands politically with a myth-buster about himself: Myth: John Stossel is a conservative. Truth: he's a classical liberal. For fans of Stossel and readers who appreciate pokes at conventional wisdom. Vanessa Bush
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Hyperion (May 1, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0786893931
  • ASIN: B000YFH3PQ
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (337 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #641,165 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
This was an informative & entertaining book with fine descriptions. The author refers to himself as a political Libertarian, which means he questions assumptions & claims that are often wrongly believed to be fact. Much of the data here is common sense. Such as cell phone use at a gas station won't cause an explosion, that reading in dim light is not really bad for your eyes, that older folks are not really more unhappy, that public schools are not underfunded, & that most lawsuits cause more harm than good.

He does a very good job detailing the latter two examples. The book is a loose collection of many ideas organized around a few unifying themes. Even though I don't have kids, I found the chapter on child raising myths written from the authors own perspective very worthwhile. Also, I think most will find his investigation into creating happiness & his discussion on the nature & power of forgiveness very crucial food for thought. The only negative I found was the authors going on too long in expressing the less salient points. On the whole he reached his goal to get the reader to consider every angle of an issue before making a decision. A solid four stars.
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Format: Paperback
John Stossel from 20/20 fame has written a book that first exposes a myth and then tells the truth about the myth. (Sometimes, though rarely the myth is true). He covers topics ranging from capitalism, big government, health, parenting and happiness among many others. Mr. Stossel is a libertarian (not a conservative or republican)and a free market capitalist, so some of his conclusions will shock liberals and many conservatives. I agree with Stossel and his explanations on why many common myths are untrue. Here are a few shocking examples.

We in America may think sweat shops are terrible, but in 3rd world countries they are huge opportunities for the poor to make a living wage (for their country) as opposed to digging through dumps for scraps.(This is the same opinion a read in a Economics book in 2006).

We may think that loosing our manufacturing jobs to China is terrible for the workers, but the outsourcing creates white collar jobs in our country and lowers the consumer goods index dramatically for the poor so they can afford shoes and clothing that was much more expensive in the past. The truth is that the vast majority of laid off workers end up in better jobs.

Price gouging is good in emergency areas because it inspires the goods to get to where they need to be, with out motivation it can take years to get roofs fixed in a hurricane damaged area based on not having enough roofers. If they could charge more they would come from other parts of the country and the supply and demand would decide what the price would be.

Parents should teach their kids to think not to obey. Consequences are a great teacher.
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Format: Hardcover
I've read John's other book and watched his programs as often as possible. This one is the best yet. The covereage of the truth about American schools is enlightening and will hopefully help pave the way for greater action in this area.

The section on brand name vs. non-brand products was excellent. My daughter performed a similar taste test for her science fair project revealing that people mostly buy for image and belief purposes and less for taste and quality purposes. John's findings were in the same line and should be read by everyone. The fact that New York City tap water beat out EVIAN should really make the world feel NAIVE (EVIAN backwards) about making their product the number one bottled water. Particularly since a chemical analysis showed the water was no more pure or healthy than what came out of the NYC pipes.

Great book. I really believe you don't know everything you need to know if you haven't read this book.

Tom Carpenter
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
John Stossel has gone back to press and come up with another winner. "Give Me a Break!" gave those who believed in government infallibility an eye-opener; "Myths, Lies and Stupidity" gives them more of the same, plus something the prior book lacked- footnotes. Now readers seeking to follow up on Stossel's revealations with actual sources can do just that- and throw solid evidence in the faces of those who say that trial lawyers are good for America, that brand name is better than generic, and that government action can solve any and every problem.

The book's not perfect, though. Stossel occasionally makes statements without backing them up at all with objective fact. Don't take this book as infallible- question it, just as you should question anything ANY media person says. Stossel admits he's been wrong himself in the past, even working hand in hand with the forces he now works to expose. This book isn't a perfect testament to a free market and limited government. What it DOES do is make a solid argument for restraining the power of government and especially of lawyers- and give the reader a trail to follow to learn more about HUNDREDS of examples of how modern common sense is utterly mistaken.
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