Synopses & Reviews
From The New York Times bestselling author of The Organized Mind and This is Your Brain on Music, a primer to the critical thinking that is more necessary now than ever.
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. New York Times bestselling author 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 infomation 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. Readers learn to avoid the extremes of passive gullibility and cynical rejection. Levitin’s charming, entertaining, accessible guide can help anyone wake up to a whole lot of things that aren’t so. And catch some lying weasels in their tracks!
"The world is awash with data, but not always with accurate information. A Field Guide to Lies does a terrific job of illustrating the difference between the two with precision—and delightful good humor." Charles Wheelan, Senior Lecturer and Policy Fellow, Rockefeller Center, Dartmouth College, author of Naked Economics
"Valuable tools for anyone willing to evaluate claims and get to the truth of the matter." Kirkus Reviews
"Daniel Levitin’s field guide is a critical thinking primer for our shrill, data-drenched age. It’s an essential tool for really understanding the texts, posts, tweets, magazines, newspapers, podcasts, op-eds, interviews and speeches that bombard us every day. From the way averages befuddle to the logical fallacies that sneak by us, every page is enlightening." Charles Duhigg, author of The Power of Habit and Smarter, Faster, Better
Levitin (The Organized Mind) equips readers with tools to combat misinformation—bad data false facts distortions and their ilk—in this useful primer on the importance of critical thinking in daily life. Levitin divides information (and misinformation) into two categories: numerical and verbal. He begins with an examination of both deliberate and uninformed misuses of statistics and how to spot them. The concepts explored in this section are perennial favorites of critical thinking instruction including plausibility “Axis Shenanigans” and the different types of probabilities. The second section on evaluation words explores less trodden grounds; particularly the discussion about expertise which explores the concept in the context of individuals and institutions and the ways that this expertise can be misapplied or misinterpreted. In his final third of the book is dedicated to the scientific method and how it actually works as opposed to pseudoscientific imitations. In all three sections Levitin explores material that has often been written about elsewhere but the book still serves its purpose as a valuable primer on critical thinking that convincingly illustrates the prevalence of misinformation in everyday life. (Sept.)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved."
About the Author
Daniel J. Levitin is the James McGill Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience at McGill University in Montreal and is dean of the College of Arts and Humanities at the Minerva Schools at KGI. Before becoming a neuroscientist, he was a record producer with gold records to his credit and a professional musician. He splits his time between Montreal, Quebec, and the San Francisco Bay Area.