I feel like this book should be required reading with any college degree. I even loaned it to my colleague’s economics professor husband (shoutout to Econ Dave for having provided me with so many behavioral economics books, had to return the favor – but I want this one back!) in hopes it might make his college curriculum. It’s basically a how-to manual at spotting misinformation, but it never feels like anything but a fun read; it’s accessible enough to read for fun but serious enough to be informative.
We learn how to exploit the differences between median, mode, and average to get the result of choice without lying (and make it seem like it’s black and white); we see how implying certain statistics are reciprocal (all poodles are dogs, but not all dogs are poodles) makes it easy to believe risks or benefits are more statistically likely than they are (Levitin’s example is a hypothetical security company stating that 90% of robberies are solved with video from the homeowner – but only 30% of robberies are solved. 90% of the ones that ARE solved may be solved with video help, but the distinction means 27% rather than 90).
But, of course, right now, the lies that we need to worry about most are the counterinformation and appeals to emotion that we’re seeing with the politicization of a freaking global pandemic (how Trump supporters can honestly believe that American politics are important enough to fake a global disaster is beyond me), exemplified in this book with 9/11 conspiracy theorists and anti-vaxxers making logical leaps (surrounding opinion and misinformation with enough actual facts as to make them seem interchangeable.)
Everyone should read this book. I wish I could make it required reading. But I can at least hope a Cannonballer out there picks this for their recommendation square 😉