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Virtual Unreality: Just Because the Internet Told You, How Do You Know It's True?by Charles Seife
Synopses & Reviews
The bestselling author of Proofiness and Zero explains how to separate fact from fantasy in the digital world
Digital information is a powerful tool that spreads unbelievably rapidly, infects all corners of society, and is all but impossible to control—even when that information is actually a lie. In Virtual Unreality, Charles Seife uses the skepticism, wit, and sharp facility for analysis that captivated readers in Proofiness and Zero to take us deep into the Internet information jungle and cut a path through the trickery, fakery, and cyber skullduggery that the online world enables.
Taking on everything from breaking news coverage and online dating to program trading and that eccentric and unreliable source that is Wikipedia, Seife arms his readers with actual tools—or weapons—for discerning truth from fiction online.
"Digital information, according to Seife in this informative book, influences our actions and alters public dialogue in very subtle and devious ways. Seife, a professor of journalism at New York University, defines virtual unreality as the state of 'living in a world where the real and virtual are no longer completely disentangled,' as data from the Web affect every one of us in a constant, persistent, and unfiltered manner. He discusses Web schemes that can damage reputations, such as the infamous 'sockpuppetry' strategy, using a false identity for deception and gathering information. Seife notes China's masterful use of sockpuppetry to gather information on rivals, and the New York City police force's efforts to create false identities on laptops to snare pedophiles and terrorists. Other issues covered are scam emails with bogus names asking for funds, photoshopped images of celebrities, and sinister Wall Street 'pump-and-dump' schemes. Intense and incisive, Seife's exposÃ© of potent tricks on the mesmerizing, overpowering Internet makes us very wary about anything that cannot be verified with our own eyes. Agent, Katinka Matson and John Brockman, Brockman Inc. (July)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
The author of Zero and Proofiness explains how to tell truth from fantasy in the digital world, and why it matters
Today, the Internet allows us to spread information faster and to more people than ever before—never mind whether its true or not. In Virtual Unreality, mathematician, science reporter, and journalist watchdog Charles Seife takes us deep into the information jungle and cuts a path through the trickery, fakery, and cyber skullduggery that the Internet enables. Providing a much-needed toolkit to help separate fact from fiction, Seife, with his trademark wit and skepticism, addresses the problems that face us every time we turn on our computers and Google our most recent medical symptoms, read a politicians tweet, fact-check something on Wikipedia, or start an online relationship. Let the clicker beware.
With his knack for translating science into understandable, anecdotal prose and his trademark dry humor, award-winning science writer Charles Seife presents the first narrative account of the history of fusion for general readers in more than a decade. Tracing the story from its beginning into the twenty-first century, Sun in a Bottle reveals fusion's explosive role in some of the biggest scientific scandals of all time. Throughout this journey, he introduces us to the daring geniuses, villains, and victims of fusion science. With the giant international fusion project ITER (International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor) now under construction, it's clear that the science of wishful thinking is as strong as ever. This book is our key to understanding why.
About the Author
A professor of journalism at New York University, Charles Seife is the author of five previous works of nonfiction, including Proofiness, Decoding the Universe, and Zero, which won the PEN/Martha Albrand Award and was named a New York Times Notable book.
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