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BIAS IS ALL AROUND YOU

A HANDBOOK FOR INSPECTING SOCIAL MEDIA & NEWS STORIES

A timely and valuable primer on how to assess sources.

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A guide focuses on detecting bias in social media posts and news stories.

Dedicating this book to “a more productive, civil discourse,” Bean provides readers with essential tools to assess the validity and bias of social media offerings and news reports. With a doctorate in education, the author is well equipped to teach readers the critical thinking skills required to navigate the labyrinth of social media and fake news and does so in an approachable, easy-to-read format. In under 60 pages, this concise manual teaches readers how to identify bias, differentiate between types of publications, and “test journalistic sources.” As Tim Vos, director of Michigan State University’s School of Journalism, notes in the guide’s foreword, “Biases…are baked into the information we encounter nearly every moment of every day.” The book also contextualizes dangerous trends that discerning readers should be familiar with, such as the role of social media algorithms in promoting disinformation and the disturbing fact that six corporations control 90% of all media outlets in America. The manual’s final chapters introduce readers to common logical fallacies, such as false dichotomies and straw-man arguments, and deliver best practices for maintaining a personal social media account. The author advises readers to avoid sharing information online without utilizing the book’s “reliability tests.” Designed to be a reference tool that readers peruse periodically, the manual eschews long narrative discursions for succinct lists and easy-to-remember acronyms. Also found in the guide is a nine-question “Bias Assessment Form” that readers can use to rate the objectivity of virtually any source they encounter. Accompanied by the colorful, engaging paper artwork of Gorske, this is an important book, ideal for dissemination in libraries, high schools, and other venues with vested interests in promoting information literacy. While targeting the victims of disinformation campaigns in its mission to empower readers who are vulnerable to fake news, the manual unfortunately supplies limited answers on how to deal with those who know better yet still promote falsehoods for their own ideological or financial benefit.

A timely and valuable primer on how to assess sources.

Pub Date: July 4, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-73447-446-6

Page Count: 57

Publisher: Ethan Bean Mental Wellness Foundation

Review Posted Online: Oct. 4, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2021

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WHAT THIS COMEDIAN SAID WILL SHOCK YOU

Maher calls out idiocy wherever he sees it, with a comedic delivery that veers between a stiletto and a sledgehammer.

The comedian argues that the arts of moderation and common sense must be reinvigorated.

Some people are born snarky, some become snarky, and some have snarkiness thrust upon them. Judging from this book, Maher—host of HBO’s Real Time program and author of The New New Rules and When You Ride Alone, You Ride With bin Laden—is all three. As a comedian, he has a great deal of leeway to make fun of people in politics, and he often delivers hilarious swipes with a deadpan face. The author describes himself as a traditional liberal, with a disdain for Republicans (especially the MAGA variety) and a belief in free speech and personal freedom. He claims that he has stayed much the same for more than 20 years, while the left, he argues, has marched toward intolerance. He sees an addiction to extremism on both sides of the aisle, which fosters the belief that anyone who disagrees with you must be an enemy to be destroyed. However, Maher has always displayed his own streaks of extremism, and his scorched-earth takedowns eventually become problematic. The author has something nasty to say about everyone, it seems, and the sarcastic tone starts after more than 300 pages. As has been the case throughout his career, Maher is best taken in small doses. The book is worth reading for the author’s often spot-on skewering of inept politicians and celebrities, but it might be advisable to occasionally dip into it rather than read the whole thing in one sitting. Some parts of the text are hilarious, but others are merely insulting. Maher is undeniably talented, but some restraint would have produced a better book.

Maher calls out idiocy wherever he sees it, with a comedic delivery that veers between a stiletto and a sledgehammer.

Pub Date: May 21, 2024

ISBN: 9781668051351

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: March 5, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2024

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WHAT WENT WRONG WITH CAPITALISM

Sure to generate debate, and of special interest to adherents of free market capitalism.

A book-length assertion that capitalism’s woes can be traced to government interventionism.

Sharma, an investments manager, financial journalist, and author of The 10 Rules of Successful Nations, The Rise and Fall of Nations, and other books, opens with the case of his native India. The author argues that it should be in a better position in the global marketplace, possessing an entrepreneurial culture and endless human capital. The culprit was “India’s lingering attachment to a state that overpromises and under-delivers,” one that privileged social welfare over infrastructure development. Much the same is true in the U.S., where today “President Joe Biden is promising to fix the crises of capitalism by enlarging a government that never shrank.” Refreshingly, Sharma places just as much blame on Ronald Reagan for the swollen state that introduced distortions into the market. Moreover, “flaws that economists blame on ‘market failures,’ including wealth inequality and inordinate corporate power, often flow more from government excesses.” One distortion is the government’s bloated debt, as it continues to fund itself by borrowing in order to pay for “the perennial deficit.” As any household budget manager would tell you, debt is ultimately unsustainable. Wealth concentration is another outcome of government tinkering that has, whether by design or not, concentrated wealth into the hands of a very small number of people, “a critical symptom of capitalism gone wrong, both inefficient and grossly unfair.” Perhaps surprisingly, Sharma notes that in quasi-socialist economies such as the Scandinavian nations, such interventions are fewer and shallower, while autocratic command economies are doomed to fail. “[T]oday every large developed country is a full-fledged democracy,” he writes, and the more freedom the better—but that freedom, he argues, is undermined by the U.S. government, which has accrued “the widest budget deficit in the developed world.”

Sure to generate debate, and of special interest to adherents of free market capitalism.

Pub Date: June 11, 2024

ISBN: 9781668008263

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: March 22, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2024

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