A Field Guide to Lies

A Field Guide to Lies

Critical Thinking in the Information Age

Book - 2016
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Penguin Putnam
Winner of the Mavis Gallant Prize for Non-Fiction

Winner of the 2017 National Business Book Award

Shortlisted for the 2016/2017 Donner Prize


From the bestselling author of The Organized Mind, the must-have book about how to analyze who and what to trust in the age of information overload.

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? In A Field Guide to Lies, neuroscientist Daniel Levitin outlines the many pitfalls of the information age and provides the means to spot and avoid them.
     Levitin groups his field guide into two categories--statistical infomation and faulty arguments--ultimately showing how science is the bedrock of critical thinking. It is easy to lie with stats and graphs as few people "take the time to look under the hood and see how they work." And, just because there's a number on something, doesn't mean that the number was arrived at properly. Logic can help to evaluate whether or not a chain of reasoning is valid. And "infoliteracy" teaches us that not all sources of information are equal, and that biases can distort data.
     Faced with a world too eager to flood us with information, the best response is to be prepared. A Field Guide to Lies helps us avoid learning a lot of things that aren't true.

Publisher: Toronto : Allen Lane, c2016
ISBN: 9780670069941
Branch Call Number: 001.422 LEV
Characteristics: xi, 292 p. :,ill. ;,24 cm.

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Feb 19, 2017

How do we evaluate the information we receive every day and avoid being seduced into believing lies? That is the question addressed in this book. The first section studies numeric and graphical information and helps us analyse the collection and presentation of the data to determine where we are being misled. The second section looks at the language used to present information and decodes some of the misleading techniques used. The third section describes logical principles and scientific thinking.

There is a lot of interesting information in the book, especially in the first section. Much of it is common sense but it is can be useful to reinforce common sense occasionally.

The writing is average and a bit long-winded in parts. Some of the examples presented are a bit unrealistic and simple-minded.

The book is worth reading and could be quite eye-opening for someone who has no awareness of these issues. However, overall, I give it only 3 stars.

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