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Debunk It!: How to Stay Sane in a World of Misinformation    by John Grant order for
Debunk It!
by John Grant
Order:  USA  Can
Zest, 2015 (2015)
* *   Reviewed by Bob Walch

You'll find plenty of attitude in John Grant's Debunk It!: How to Stay Sane in a World of Misinformation. Purportedly this book will assist the reader in identifying and putting into historical context the misinformation, lies, and distortions that rain down upon us from politicians, talk show hosts, bloggers, slanted media, and so-called authority figures.

If you are fed up with the steady flow of rhetoric that comes from media like Fox News, both political parties, and interest groups that have an axe to grind, you will find this book of interest.

'Whatever the source of bad information, whatever the reason someone has for trying to foist it upon you, it can often be hard to tell it from the real thing and that's where this book comes in,' writes Grant.

In the first part the author shows how the reader can adopt some ways of thinking that will make it much easier to distinguish bad information from good. Once the reader can distinguish the misinformation, Grant takes a look at some of his pet peeves when it comes to the steady flow of bogus claims, and shows how they fall apart when subjected to a little critical thinking.

The checklist provided to use to assess if a person is serving you a steady diet of baloney includes some of these considerations: 'Check the content of the quotes that people present you. Are they in context?'

'Don't take data at face value if you're suspicious of the person presenting it. See if you can find the source of the raw data.'

'If all the evidence you find seems to confirm your beliefs, pause for a moment to make sure you're being objective.'

Although this book is helpful when it comes to addressing the rhetorical tricks that some folks will use when they try to pull the wool over your eyes, this isn't a comprehensive discussion of those tricks. The author focuses on just a few and spends an inordinate amount of space discussing who doesn't accept the science behind climate change (or even that there is a problem), and the dangers of refusing to vaccinate children to prevent certain medical conditions.

John Grant doesn't do a great job of disguising his own political leanings; hence, he is also selective in what he chooses to discuss and not discuss. This book is aimed at teenagers but adults will find it interesting and worth reading as well. Some readers will probably take issue with the continual use of bullshit which Grant insists is a better word than baloney when it comes to describing misinformation. This is really nothing more than an attempt to connect with teens and pretend to be trendy! That's rather a shame, but so be it!

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