Unspinning the Spins

Here is a book that may interest some folks:

UnSpun : finding facts in a world of disinformation
by Jackson, Brooks.


Americans are bombarded daily with mixed messages, half-truths, misleading statements, and out-and-out fabrications masquerading as facts. The news media -once the vaunted watchdogs of our republic-are often too timid or distracted to identify these deceptions. unSpun is the secret decoder ring for the twenty-first-century world of disinformation. Written by Brooks Jackson and Kathleen Hall Jamieson, the founders of the acclaimed website FactCheck.org (one of Time’s “25 websites you can’t live without”), unSpun reveals the secrets of separating facts from disinformation, such as: the warning signs of spin, hype, and bogus news, common tricks used to deceive us, how to find trustworthy and objective sources of information. Telling fact from fiction shouldn’t be a difficult task. With this book and a healthy dose of skepticism, anyone can cut through the haze of biased media reportage to be a savvier consumer and a better-informed citizen. Book jacket. Distributed by Syndetic Solutions, Inc.

Publishers Weekly Review

According to Jamieson and Jackson, both of the University of Pennsylvania’s Annenberg Public Policy Center, “spin is a polite word for deception,” and deception is everywhere. As a remedy, they offer this media literacy crash course. The authors explore spin’s warning signs (“If it’s scary, be wary”) and the tricks used to bring people around to a certain point of view (“The implied falsehood,” “Frame it and claim it”), as well as the lessons to call on when confronted with conflicting or suspect stories (“Extraordinary claims need extraordinary evidence”). Although they tackle the checkered history of product pitches (from snake oil to Cold-Eeze), what stands out is their keen insight into Washington politics, where “deception is a bipartisan enterprise,” as illustrated by Bush and Kerry in the 2004 presidential election (in which both fudged the facts of unemployment and taxation). September 11 and the run-up to Gulf War II give the authors their most convincing talking points, debunking myths and chronicling Washington’s use of “fear, uncertainty, and doubt”-cited so often it gets the acronym “FUD”-to generate public support for the 2003 invasion. However, the rules to avoid these and other carefully enumerated tricks range from commonsensical (“You can’t be completely certain”) to labor intensive (“Check primary sources”), leaving one to wonder whether the spin doctors have already won out over energy- and time-deficient Americans. Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. From: Reed Elsevier Inc. Copyright Reed Business Information

Table of Contents

Introduction: A World of Spin
page vii

Chapter 1 From Snake Oil to Emu Oil
page 3

Chapter 2 A Bridesmaid’s Bad Breath: Warning Signs of Trickery
page 25

Chapter 3 “Tall” Coffees and Assault Weapons: Tricks of the Deception Trade
page 43

Chapter 4 UFO Cults and Us: Why We Get Spun
page 65

Chapter 5 Facts Can Save Your Life page 83

Chapter 6 The Great Crow Fallacy: Finding the Best Evidence
page 103

Chapter 7 Osama, Ollie, and Al: The Internet Solution
page 127

Chapter 8 Was Clarence Darrow a Creationist?: How to Be Sure
page 153

Conclusion: Staying unSpun
page 179

page 186

page 189