A timely and valuable primer on how to assess sources.

BIAS IS ALL AROUND YOU

A HANDBOOK FOR INSPECTING SOCIAL MEDIA & NEWS STORIES

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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A sweet-and-sour set of pieces on loss, absurdity, and places they intersect.

HAPPY-GO-LUCKY

Sedaris remains stubbornly irreverent even in the face of pandemic lockdowns and social upheaval.

In his previous collection of original essays, Calypso (2018), the author was unusually downbeat, fixated on aging and the deaths of his mother and sister. There’s bad news in this book, too—most notably, the death of his problematic and seemingly indestructible father at 96—but Sedaris generally carries himself more lightly. On a trip to a gun range, he’s puzzled by boxer shorts with a holster feature, which he wishes were called “gunderpants.” He plays along with nursing-home staffers who, hearing a funnyman named David is on the premises, think he’s Dave Chappelle. He’s bemused by his sister Amy’s landing a new apartment to escape her territorial pet rabbit. On tour, he collects sheaves of off-color jokes and tales of sexual self-gratification gone wrong. His relationship with his partner, Hugh, remains contentious, but it’s mellowing. (“After thirty years, sleeping is the new having sex.”) Even more serious stuff rolls off him. Of Covid-19, he writes that “more than eight hundred thousand people have died to date, and I didn’t get to choose a one of them.” The author’s support of Black Lives Matter is tempered by his interest in the earnest conscientiousness of organizers ensuring everyone is fed and hydrated. (He refers to one such person as a “snacktivist.”) Such impolitic material, though, puts serious essays in sharper, more powerful relief. He recalls fending off the flirtations of a 12-year-old boy in France, frustrated by the language barrier and other factors that kept him from supporting a young gay man. His father’s death unlocks a crushing piece about dad’s inappropriate, sexualizing treatment of his children. For years—chronicled in many books—Sedaris labored to elude his father’s criticism. Even in death, though, it proves hard to escape or laugh off.

A sweet-and-sour set of pieces on loss, absurdity, and places they intersect.

Pub Date: May 31, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-316-39245-7

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: March 11, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2022

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A conversational, pleasurable look into McConaughey’s life and thought.

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GREENLIGHTS

All right, all right, all right: The affable, laconic actor delivers a combination of memoir and self-help book.

“This is an approach book,” writes McConaughey, adding that it contains “philosophies that can be objectively understood, and if you choose, subjectively adopted, by either changing your reality, or changing how you see it. This is a playbook, based on adventures in my life.” Some of those philosophies come in the form of apothegms: “When you can design your own weather, blow in the breeze”; “Simplify, focus, conserve to liberate.” Others come in the form of sometimes rambling stories that never take the shortest route from point A to point B, as when he recounts a dream-spurred, challenging visit to the Malian musician Ali Farka Touré, who offered a significant lesson in how disagreement can be expressed politely and without rancor. Fans of McConaughey will enjoy his memories—which line up squarely with other accounts in Melissa Maerz’s recent oral history, Alright, Alright, Alright—of his debut in Richard Linklater’s Dazed and Confused, to which he contributed not just that signature phrase, but also a kind of too-cool-for-school hipness that dissolves a bit upon realizing that he’s an older guy on the prowl for teenage girls. McConaughey’s prep to settle into the role of Wooderson involved inhabiting the mind of a dude who digs cars, rock ’n’ roll, and “chicks,” and he ran with it, reminding readers that the film originally had only three scripted scenes for his character. The lesson: “Do one thing well, then another. Once, then once more.” It’s clear that the author is a thoughtful man, even an intellectual of sorts, though without the earnestness of Ethan Hawke or James Franco. Though some of the sentiments are greeting card–ish, this book is entertaining and full of good lessons.

A conversational, pleasurable look into McConaughey’s life and thought.

Pub Date: Oct. 20, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-13913-4

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2020

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