Weaponized Lies: How to Think Critically in the Post-Truth Era
Author: Daniel J. Levitin (wiki link). Publishing year: 2017.
Weaponized Lies is your guide to critical thinking. Evaluating truthful and accurate information can be very difficult. It demands our constant attention. Our age requires a new kind of skill: information literacy.
The book aims to get you started on your journey to acquiring sufficient info-literacy to navigate the media of the 21st century. This is your one-on-one critical thinking process.
Daniel Levitin helps you spot problems with the facts you encounter. Furthermore, it explains how misinformation is not a new phenomena. However, what is indeed new, is it’s pervasiveness in our everyday lives.
Even more, current day lies are more dangerous because of their perceived hype.
“Other euphemisms for lies are counter knowledge, half-truths, extreme views, alt truth, conspiracy theories, and the more recent appellation ‘fake news’.”
What weaponizes the lies is the intensity of the belief, the unquestioning confidence that your version, is the truth.
Numbers can Lie
The first chapter introduces us to statistic analysis. It explains in detail topics like averages and percentages. How to make a good graphical representation and how to be weary of potential manipulations. Furthermore, Daniel Levitin describes a fast method of determining if something is plausible.
The first lesson a data analyst needs to learn is that data does not equate information. Ill intended specialists can purposely manipulate numbers and charts to show what they want, thus, masking the truth.
“Critical thinking trains us to take a step back, to evaluate facts and form evidence based conclusions.”
Words as Weapons
Next, Daniel Levitin shows us how to make an argumentation. How to spot faults in our arguments. Additionally, he unveils how others can be persuasive without being honest.
Going further into practical aspects, the book provides recipes on how to evaluate commercials so we are not influenced without our knowledge.
“There are not two sides of a story when one side is a lie.”
The book makes a common sense overview of how to evaluate what you read.
As part of our critical thinking education, we can read about logical fallacies. We are subjected to many logical errors in our thinking. For example, we make framing errors when estimating probabilities and risk. Likewise, we are subjected to illusory correlation between unrelated events.
Still, the author believes we can learn to do better:
“… evidence – based thinking is not beyond the grasp of most twelve – year – old’s, if only they are shown the way.”
Finally, we have a detailed description of the scientific method which should help us navigate the deluge of data.
“The search for proof, for certainty, drives science, but it also drives our sense of justice and all our judicial system. Scientific practice has shown us the right way to proceed with this search.”
Daniel Levitin makes a short overview of famous names in science. These great minds invented the scientific method. Furthermore, we can understand what our limits of knowledge are.
Weaponized Lies promotes critical thinking in our day-to-day lives. Analyzing everything from cocktail party discussions, to news, media and advertisement. The reader needs to prepare for an extensive and educational read. The extreme detail and high number of examples make the flow tedious at times.