Americans are bombarded daily with mixed messages, half-truths, misleading statements, and out-and-out fabrications masquerading as facts. The news media–once the vaunted watchdogs of our republic–are often too timid or distracted to identify these deceptions.
unSpun is the secret decoder ring for the twenty-first-century world of disinformation. Written by Brooks Jackson and Kathleen Hall Jamieson, the founders of the acclaimed website FactCheck.org, unSpun reveals the secrets of separating facts from disinformation, such as:
• the warning signs of spin, hype, and bogus news
• common tricks used to deceive us
• how to find trustworthy and objective sources of information
Telling fact from fiction shouldn’t be a difficult task. With this book and a healthy dose of skepticism, anyone can cut through the haze of biased media reportage to be a savvier consumer and a better-informed citizen.
“Read this book and you will not go unarmed into the political wars ahead of us. Jackson and Jamieson equip us to be our own truth squad, and that just might be the salvation of democracy.”
“THE DEFINITIVE B.S. DETECTOR–AN ABSOLUTELY INVALUABLE GUIDEBOOK.”
–Mark Shields, syndicated columnist and political analyst, NewsHour with Jim Lehrer
“ unSpun is an essential guide to cutting through the political fog. Just in time for the 2008 campaign, Brooks Jackson and Kathleen Hall Jamieson have written a citizen’s guide to avoiding the malarkey of partisan politics.”
–Mara Liasson, NPR national political correspondent
“The Internet may be a wildly effective means of communication and an invaluable source of knowledge, but it has also become a new virtual haven for scammers–financial, political, even personal. Better than anything written before, unSpun shows us how to recognize these scams and protect ourselves from them.”
–Craig Newmark, founder and customer service representative, Craigslist.org
From the Trade Paperback edition.
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|Title of Suspense & Thrillers eBook: unSpun|
|Release Date: 04-24-2007|
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|Publisher: Random House Publishing Group|
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From Snake Oil to Emu Oil
A century ago a self-proclaimed cowboy named Clark Stan- ley, calling himself the Rattlesnake King, peddled a product he called Snake Oil Liniment. He claimed it was “good for man and beast” and brought immediate relief from “pain and lameness.” Stanley sold it for 50 cents a bottle—the equivalent of more than $10 today—as a remedy for rheumatism, toothache, sciatica, and “bites of animals, insects and reptiles,” among other ailments. To promote his pricey cure-all, Stanley publicly slaughtered rattlesnakes at the Chicago World’s Fair of 1893.
Stanley was the most famous of the snake-oil salesmen, back before passage of the federal Pure Food and Drug Act in 1906. And he was a fraud. When the federal government finally got around to seizing some of Stanley’s product in 1915, the Department of Agriculture’s Bureau of Chemistry (forerunner of today’s Food and Drug Administration) determined that it “consisted principally of a light mineral oil (petroleum product) mixed with about 1 per cent of fatty oil (probably beef fat), capsicum, and possibly a trace of camphor and turpentine.” And no actual snake oil. Stanley was charged with violating the federal food and drug act. He didn’t contest the charge and was fined $20.
Are today’s pitchmen and hucksters any less deceptive? We don’t think so. “Snake oil” has a bad name these days (at least in the United States; in China, it is used to relieve joint pain). But in 2006 we found another animal-oil product that—according to its marketer—is “much better