A Field Guide to Lies

A Field Guide to Lies

Critical Thinking in the Information Age

Book - 2016
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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, Ontario] : Allen Lane, 2016.
ISBN: 9780670069941
Branch Call Number: 001.422 Lev
Characteristics: xi, 292 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm.

Opinion

From Library Staff

At a time when the value of false statements has reached a premium, at a time when POTUS boasts about the size of his business, knowledge of the birthplace of Barack Obama and jobs he claims to rescue for native Americans and is still rewarded with a massive following, it feels necessary to pick... Read More »


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mclarjh
Jul 30, 2017

Dull writing. Much of this has been dumbed down so anyone with a background in statistics would be bored, but the Bayesian statistics could have used a better explanation.

b
bkevin
Feb 08, 2017

A witty and entertaining introduction of critical thinking. It is kind of an updated and expanded version of Huff's classic, "How to Lie with Statistics." A quick read, it should be required reading in every High School. One flaw was the extremely abbreviated discussion of Bayesian reasoning a bit hard to follow. However, like most of these books, it will be read by people who already know most of this stuff, and ignored by those who need it the most. High school graduation season will be here it a few months, give it as gifts.

Timmeh4248 Nov 02, 2016

9 out of 10 doctors agree that reading this book will result in serious weight loss, more restful sleep, and make you better looking. Also Daniel Levitin will give you a million dollars just to read and review it!

Psyche. You thought.

But seriously, this is a book all about evaluating information. In a time when many of our news media are beholden to money interests and anyone can spread misinformation via the web, this is a set of skills that is more important than ever. Unfortunately, I suspect the people who could benefit the most from reading this, probably won't. There are certain groups of people who don't like to be confronted with facts and well-framed arguments and are unlikely to deviate from that pattern.

Levitin covers the way graphics, graphs, statistics, probabilities, and words can be used to deceive us. Even trusted and reputable sources may have an ax to grind. Be aware of who's writing and never stop questioning.

And before someone asks, no I didn't check all of the sources the author cites. Most of the concepts discussed are already familiar to me and it is the concept I am interested in not each factual instance cited. Read it for yourself and decide.

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