A Field Guide to Lies

A Field Guide to Lies

Critical Thinking in the Information Age

Book - 2016
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We are bombarded with more information each day than our brains can process -- especially in election season. It's raining bad data, half-truths, and even outright lies. Daniel J. Levitin shows how to recognize misleading announcements, statistics, graphs, and written reports revealing the ways lying weasels can use them. It's becoming harder to separate the wheat from the digital chaff. How do we distinguish misinformation, pseudo-facts, distortions, and outright lies from reliable information? Levitin groups his field guide into two categories -- statistical information and faulty arguments -- ultimately showing how science is the bedrock of critical thinking. Infoliteracy means understanding that there are hierarchies of source quality and bias that variously distort our information feeds via every media channel, including social media. We may expect newspapers, bloggers, the government, and Wikipedia to be factually and logically correct, but they so often aren't. We need to think critically about the words and numbers we encounter if we want to be successful at work, at play, and in making the most of our lives. This means checking the plausibility and reasoning -- not passively accepting information, repeating it, and making decisions based on it.
Publisher: New York, New York : Dutton, [2016]
ISBN: 9780525955221
Branch Call Number: 153.42 L6664f 2016
Characteristics: xi, 292 pages ; 24 cm


From Library Staff

Levitin shows how data can be presented in misleading ways, and illustrates how the presence of unverifiable or illogical statements can expose a news source as unreliable.

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Jul 30, 2017

Dull writing. Much of this has been dumbed down so anyone with a background in statistics would be bored, but the Bayesian statistics could have used a better explanation.

Feb 08, 2017

A witty and entertaining introduction of critical thinking. It is kind of an updated and expanded version of Huff's classic, "How to Lie with Statistics." A quick read, it should be required reading in every High School. One flaw was the extremely abbreviated discussion of Bayesian reasoning a bit hard to follow. However, like most of these books, it will be read by people who already know most of this stuff, and ignored by those who need it the most. High school graduation season will be here it a few months, give it as gifts.

Timmeh4248 Nov 02, 2016

9 out of 10 doctors agree that reading this book will result in serious weight loss, more restful sleep, and make you better looking. Also Daniel Levitin will give you a million dollars just to read and review it!

Psyche. You thought.

But seriously, this is a book all about evaluating information. In a time when many of our news media are beholden to money interests and anyone can spread misinformation via the web, this is a set of skills that is more important than ever. Unfortunately, I suspect the people who could benefit the most from reading this, probably won't. There are certain groups of people who don't like to be confronted with facts and well-framed arguments and are unlikely to deviate from that pattern.

Levitin covers the way graphics, graphs, statistics, probabilities, and words can be used to deceive us. Even trusted and reputable sources may have an ax to grind. Be aware of who's writing and never stop questioning.

And before someone asks, no I didn't check all of the sources the author cites. Most of the concepts discussed are already familiar to me and it is the concept I am interested in not each factual instance cited. Read it for yourself and decide.


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