- Paperback: 208 pages
- Publisher: Random House Trade Paperbacks; First Printing edition (April 24, 2007)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1400065666
- ISBN-13: 978-1400065660
- Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.5 x 8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 5.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 59 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #35,024 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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unSpun: Finding Facts in a World of Disinformation Paperback – April 24, 2007
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From Publishers Weekly
According to Jamieson and Jackson, both of the University of Pennsylvania's Annenberg Public Policy Center, "spin is a polite word for deception," and deception is everywhere. As a remedy, they offer this media literacy crash course. The authors explore spin's warning signs ("If it's scary, be wary") and the tricks used to bring people around to a certain point of view ("The implied falsehood," "Frame it and claim it"), as well as the lessons to call on when confronted with conflicting or suspect stories ("Extraordinary claims need extraordinary evidence"). Although they tackle the checkered history of product pitches (from snake oil to Cold-Eeze), what stands out is their keen insight into Washington politics, where "deception is a bipartisan enterprise," as illustrated by Bush and Kerry in the 2004 presidential election (in which both fudged the facts of unemployment and taxation). September 11 and the run-up to Gulf War II give the authors their most convincing talking points, debunking myths and chronicling Washington's use of "fear, uncertainty, and doubt"-cited so often it gets the acronym "FUD"-to generate public support for the 2003 invasion. However, the rules to avoid these and other carefully enumerated tricks range from commonsensical ("You can't be completely certain") to labor intensive ("Check primary sources"), leaving one to wonder whether the spin doctors have already won out over energy- and time-deficient Americans.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
About the Author
Brooks Jackson runs FactCheck.org and was previously an investigative reporter for the Associated Press, The Wall Street Journal, and CNN. He is the author of Honest Graft: Big Money and the American Political Process and Broken Promise: Why the Federal Election Commission Failed. Jackson lives in Washington, D.C.
Kathleen Hall Jamieson is the director of the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania. She has written more than a dozen books, including Dirty Politics: Deception, Distraction, and Democracy and Everything You Think You Know About Politics . . . and Why You're Wrong. Jamieson lives in Philadelphia.
Top customer reviews
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This shows how mere mortals can do it...what questions to ask, where to go for critical backup, what to do...and how not to fall into traps designed to catch us all.
As an advanced factchecker, I highly recommend this as starter material...this could be enhanced by being updated to current references and challenges (it IS 10 years old) and references for deepening ones skills, both in numerical and linguistic arenas.
The immediacy of using current examples (this is heavy on examples from the 2004 election, Iraq war, etc) is why I took off 1 star.
This first part was harder to get thru, but got much better as you go on.
That said, it still has much, much to offer...including how to evaluate polls, language and more.
I could only wish this was a Kindle textbook, for the advanced study features they offer.
This book explain to the reader when spin typically happens, how to recognize it, how to be on the lookout for it, and how to verify what the facts really are. Reading it and the examples given, I was suprised by how much I do. I have quite a bit of experiance verifying sources, questioning numbers, and scouring reports to see how the numbers have been crunched (I'm one of those librarians they mention in chapter 7), but I get taken in too-I had one of those Ab belts and thought that the bin Lauden family was allowed to fly out soon after 9/11. Of course, I had to read this book with an equally critical eye-I still wonder how some of the questions were formed in all those studies they cited...
Oh, and if you're like me and immediatly start looking for the bibliography-it's on their web page, not in the book.
With political ads, news bits (which seems to be ongoing political ads most of the time) and presidential debates heating up, this book is more and more useful.