Having recently experienced a presidential campaign where truth took a back seat, this book caught my interest. During my years of schooling, I was taught how to evaluate sources of information. It seems to be a skill lost for many in the contemporary American public.
Unlike a generation ago, there is now a plethora of news sources. Bartlett wants readers to be able to discern truth in the midst of it all. He shares methods he has used for decades. He looks at the rise of various media outlets. He helps us identify primary and secondary sources. He advocates the testing of a writer's credibility, such as paying attention to documentation.
Bartlett notes that material from satirical websites has been quoted as as factual, an example of not thoroughly checking a source. He saw where “experts” wrote on a subject when they were not at all an expert on the topic.
He offers some good strategy, such as using the resources at the local library. He suggests many websites for checking out the truth of a claim. He clarifies financial and statistical terms authors use. He tackles political terms, polls, Wikipedia, fake news, editorials, and more.
I checked out a site he recommended, https://www.realclearpolitics.com/. It has latest poll results and articles from both sides of the political aisle. Once I got past the pop up ads, it looked like a very informative site. I also found out how to set up a Feedly news feed with my favorite news sources.
I would put this book in an introductory category. Considering the number of people I know who got taken in by and repeated unfounded “news,” I think this book is needed by many. It seems critical thinking is a skill many lack today. I used my local library to obtain this book. You can do that too. I recommend it.
My rating: 4/5 stars.
Bruce Bartlett s a commentator, economist, best-selling author, former Forbes columnist and New York Times Economix blogger, presidential adviser, and political independent.
Ten Speed Press, 144 pages.