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Untruth : Why the Conventional Wisdom is (Almost Always) Wrong Paperback – March 6, 2001

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The dawn of the Internet and cable TV has upped the competition among news providers, who, in turn, have found that the more sensational they make the news, the better their ratings, explains syndicated columnist and author Robert J. Samuelson (The Good Life and Its Discontents). In Untruth: Why the Conventional Wisdom Is (Almost Always) Wrong, Samuelson, who has been described (and derided) as both a conservative and a liberal, shares some of his columns that refute common wisdom about politics, business, economics and the environment, offering inquisitive readers what he believes is the unbiased, unfettered truth. Agent, Rafe Sagalyn.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

From the Inside Flap

In "Untruth, "Newsweek and "Washington Post columnist Robert J. Samuelson explains why our political, economic and cultural debates so routinely traffic in misinformation--popular fads that, like meteors, momentarily burn brightly in public consciousness and then fizzle out. Advocacy groups, politicians and their unwitting allies in the media instinctively create agendas of problems that afflict society and must be "solved."The problems are often exaggerated and oversimplified, and the result is that the public is misled about what is wrong and how easily it can be made right.
"Untruth is the first collection of Samuelson's insightful assaults on the conventional wisdom. Included are columns arguing that campaign contributions have not corrupted politics, that the "service economy" is not turning America into a nation of hamburger flippers, and that the Internet isn't the most important invention since the printing press.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: AtRandom (March 6, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0812991648
  • ISBN-13: 978-0812991642
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.8 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,130,885 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Jeez - I can't believe no one else has written a review of this book, which is the most persuasive, thought-provoking analysis of the American political, social and economic scene I've ever read. No hyperbole.
I agree with what George Will said about the author: "Samuelson needs Secret Service protection ... If we lose him, we're sunk."
Sameulson's essays all ring true. He is one of the few national journalists I'm familiar with who actually possesses a "healthy skepticism." He not only routinely questions and challenges the "conventional wisdom" he shows us the negative and costly consequences of basing policy decisions on fraudulent but generally accepted premises.
The author's last column is a tribute to the college professor who had the greatest impact on Samuelson's life. This professor taught Samuelson to think about old things in new ways and not to be afraid to come up with independent thoughts. To Samuelson, this was a great gift. Mr. Samuelson has helped pass along the same gift to this humble and grateful reviewer.
P.S. This book should be required reading for every journalist, editor, issue advocate and politician. It tells us why they know not what they do ...
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Samuelson writes about political economics for the Washington Post. As an instructor in political science topics I always read his column and find it thoughtful, balanced, understandable, and insightful. He integrates politics, economics, history, and social dynamics in a clear and concise manner. This collection of his columns in an enriching book, and quite relevant to both economics and politics.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Samuelson attacks what used to be conventional wisdom--that the government could solve all manner of concocted economic "problems"--and replaces it with the new conventional wisdom of free markets. His is the least interesting and innovative work of this genre. The generalities, the platitudes, the triumphalism border on the sickening. He brings now-popular Chicago and Austrian ideas (especially the idea that the government is often self-interested and that it can't possibly be expected to know all it needs to know to deal with our economic problems) to the most standard of problems (are layoffs really bad?; is it bad to be a "service" economy?; how the lefty media manufactures problems for government to solve).
Economic ideas are powerful. They are infinitely more forceful in the hands of true scholars (Friedman "Free to Choose" and Becker "The Economics of Life") and infintely more interesting when presented in an innovative style (as in Russell Roberts' love story, "The Invisible Heart"). I would recommend all these books way before Samuelson's; but most people will not be able stomach even three such books.
Come to think of it, I should have expected no more from a Newsweek columnist.
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