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Myths, Lies, and Downright Stupidity: Get Out the Shovel -- Why Everything You Know Is Wrong
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Myths, Lies, and Downright Stupidity: Get Out the Shovel -- Why Everything You Know Is Wrong

3.81 of 5 stars 3.81  ·  rating details  ·  1,534 ratings  ·  177 reviews
• Singles have a better sex life than married people, right? Wrong! A University of Chicago study shows that married couples are having more sex--30% more--and better sex, than singles. But movies, TV shows, and other reporting about marriage never feature that fact.
• Do we have less free time than we used to? Countless news stories and anecdotes from friends and family m
Paperback, 320 pages
Published May 1st 2007 by Hyperion (first published May 9th 2006)
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Five minutes of research packaged as definitive truth.

Any review is more than this book deserves - so I'll just give an example of Stossel's breathtaking stupidity.

Here's one of the myths he claims to debunk:

Myth: Polygamy harms Women
Fact: The women aren't complaining.

Stossel backs this up with a walkthrough of a polygamist compound where all the women he speaks to seem to be doing just fine.

-Well, that's it then, isn't it? Conclusive proof that polygamy doesn't harm wome-

Wait. What about this
Note: I listened to the book-on-cd version, read by the illustrious author himself. He has a sing-songy, can-you-believe-people-actually-believe-this-stuff? voice.

The cover shows a bullshit-detecting John Stossel holding a shovel, his weapon of choice. The shovel becomes a motif throghout the tome, appearing most frequently in the catchphrase he uses for chastising the bullshit-mongers: "Get the shovel!" By the twentieth time he says it, one can envision his legions of loyal fans chanting along:
Downright stupidity is right.
I'm not going to argue about whether he has his facts straight or not (mostly because in several cases he doesn't), but I am going to point out that it wouldn't matter anyway thanks to the rock-hard shell of arrogance clotted around this book.
I originally picked up the book thinking "Oh myths and lies, this ought to be fun." I had no expectations from Stossel himself, since I've never watched 20/20 or had any contact with anything else he's done. I was assuming that
I checked this out from the library. It was in the new books section and had an intriguing title. A few days afterwards I was flicking channels and saw the author on a talk show. He acted like a jerk.

I flipped through the book and did not intend to read it. Instead it turned out to be interesting. He took many popular myths and beliefs and attempted to explode them with evidence and statistics.

I don't agree with many of his opinions, but the book made for some thought provoking reading. I don'
I always enjoy John Stossel's 20/20 reports and was excited he finally released a book based on his recent "myth-busting" stories. If you want comprehensive, in-depth discussion on controversial subjects, this is NOT the book for you. If you would like snippets of information and entertaining food for thought, you will love it. Easy-to-read and great for picking up and putting down in your moments of free time. If you hate this book... you need to lighten up. It is not necessarily thorough, but ...more
Okay, so I can see how some people angrily disagree with this book, claiming that he is misleading the reader with sweeping generalizations about things like the wives of polygamists not hating their arrangement. True, it's hard to prove certain things without going very in-depth, but how exactly are you going to go about that? Are you going to trot the globe and interview every single wife of every single polygamist? Would that be enough? What about polygamists of the past? Can there EVER reall ...more
Ronald Wise
I didn't know anything about this author or book, so I went into this one with no expectations. It was like watching a marathon series of 10-minute senationalist news stories aimed at "revealing the truth". Take the most complicated issues and reduce them to an interview where four or five statements are used to prove your point, and set everyone straight. The most salient feature of Stossel's thinking is that "government" is this big bad monster trying to ruin our way of life — perhaps similiar ...more
The famous 20/20 anchor takes on a large number of commonly held beliefs and discusses whether or not they are true. I learned quite a bit about a broad range of subjects, and Stossel's straightforward writing style is immensely readable. However, I have a feeling that if I was a die-hard believer in any of the myths covered here I would have left unconvinced and unimpressed. The trouble with this book is that there are too many topics discussed with not enough depth. Most of the myths are cover ...more
I really like John Stossel, although sometimes he's so libertarian he makes even me a bit uncomfortable. A lot of the things he had to stay were kind of shocking, and I had some resistance them to them at first: "That can't be right, everybody knows that!" But then I had to stop and go "why do I know X is true instead of Y? I know Y because 'everybody' knows, but who is 'everybody'? And have you met 'everybody'? The vast majority of the 'everybody' is dumb as a sack of rocks." But it's hard to f ...more
Topics that everyone should understand. My favorite section is about public schools. A full recap of the school section can be found here.
Here is part:
School-Choice Proponents Meet Resistance
When the Sanford family moved from Charleston to Columbia, S.C., the family had a big concern: Where would the kids go to school? In most places, you must attend the public school in the zone where you live, but the middle school near the Sanford's new home was rate
No huge surprises and I don't agree with everything he says, but a lot of it was thought provoking. His style of arguing a point without over-dressing is likeable, an "every man" style of simplicity, and at a couple points he's self-denegrating in a very unapologetic, matter-of-fact way.
This book had some pretty interesting sections in it. However, some of the chapters seemed to get repetitive.

I also feel like the author contradicted himself at times to make whatever point he wanted at the time. For example in one portion of the book he explains how easily you can get experts to say whatever you want for a segment on TV. Later in the book he uses "experts" as his inarguable evidence that something is a myth.

Having read some other books that try and prove or disprove theories,
Josh Hanke
What a wonderfully fun, humorous and inviting primer for any person wanting to know more about Libertarianism. While the content isn't deep, it is chock-full of great information across many, many subjects (100+) that collectively provide insight into Libertarian justifications. If you're a fan of the Uncle John Bathroom Readers like myself, you'll be very comfortable with the book's format. Stossel was even able to expand on some small details I had learned briefly from the Freakonomics series ...more
Benjamin Thomas
Wow, that title sounds like I got up on the wrong side of the bed this morning doesn't it? Actually, it's the title of the morning book I've been reading for the past week and a half or so. It's by John Stossel, the co-anchor of ABC News' 20/20 fame, and the full title of the book is Myths, Lies, and Downright Stupidity: Get Out the Shovel - Why Everything You Know is Wrong. It's an interesting title and how I came to read this book is interesting in itself. You see, my college-enrolled daughter ...more
Sometimes I wish Stossel had used his shovel to dig a little deeper into each issue; too often he cited a single expert to debunk conventional wisdom. This was especially ironic given his refrain of criticizing the media for being too eager to accept ideas uncritically. Nonetheless, the two or three paragraph long treatment of each issue (which were organized thematically into chapters) kept this reader from ever getting bored. This was sort of a Freakanomics for readers with short attention spa ...more
Some of what he has to say is interesting. I especially like the idea of how competition can naturally fix a lot of problems in the economy and with the school system. This idea could have made up an entire book--one I would be interested in reading. My problem is that the majority of his arguments are blanket statements that he fails to adequately back up. Maybe he just didn't bother to add exactly where he got his facts and information, but as an English major, this is a huge no-no, and it mak ...more

John Stossel goes through a series of "myths" vs. "truth". He is for capitalism and against big government, and describes himself as a libertarian rather than a conservative. When it comes to economics, his reasoning seems sound. But when he starts delving into other topics (polygamy, homosexuality, etc.), his case starts to break down. In these areas, it begins to look more sensational (meant to shock) than rational (based on solid research).

This is why I enjoyed some of his earlier books bette

Interesting book. It frustrated me to hear of the corruption and waste by government even thought I know it happens all the time. But to hear so many examples and to read of politicians who just don't seem to get it makes me wonder how so many people (voters) can get it so wrong! Also, the chapter on lawyers was unsettling. However, there was a small blurb about polygamy where Stossel got some of his information wrong or was careless in his statements. That made me wonder where else he may have ...more
Based on input from others, I expected NOT to like this book, but that wasn't the case. I can't say everything Stossel talked about was new and earthshaking, or that I bought into everything he said, but there was more than enough I did agree with. For example, I'm not a bottled water drinker, so when he says that tap water is every bit as good, if not better, than bottled water, it's no news to me. And I believe the Country is lawsuit crazy, so when he talks about how medical liability cases li ...more
Mr Stossel makes fun of all the ideas that we seem to believe. He takes on politics, education, unions, welfare, aid, then changes to lighter fare such as common urban myths and just plain stupid things that our culture believes. He does skewer many ideas that we take for granted with mostly hitting the liberal ideas of helping others. He tries to show how our help doesn't really help and actually hurts more than it helps. Being a liberal, I can see where he is coming from, but he tends to deal ...more
This book is divided into several chapters where Stossel states a popular myth, then gives the truth about it. I pretty much skipped over the political and business chapters, because those didn't interest me as much, but some of the myths debunked in the book included how bottled water is better for you/tastes better, but in actuality it just costs more and they even did a taste test where people liked fountain water better than Evian; how video games make kids violent, but there is no evidence ...more
R.A. Harrington
I enjoyed this easy to read and immensely informative view into a myriad of societal myths and truths as research and reported by John Stossel. The author did well to break the book down into a myriad of approximately one-page myth/truth examinations. Each examination is a small story unto itself, and groups of the stories fit nicely into the themed chapters. Some of the truths were downright shocking while others are more commonly known and understood if one reads deeply through the hype that b ...more
This is a collection of opinions by a t.v. journalist from the show 20/20, which I'm not sure I've ever seen. In this book, he writes on a wide range of topics, including politics, the economy, the environment, education, marriage, etc. There were a lot of thought-provoking ideas. But the author comes across as kind of arrogant. He gives only very brief and inadequate support for his opinions, declares his opinions to be facts, and finally, indicates that anyone who disagrees with him is an idio ...more
Diane Ehrlich
John Stossel has some interesting views on a lot of topics. He's very pro-capitalism and anti-big-government. I agree with a lot of what he has to say about lawyers, lobbyists and corrupt politicians being the cause of a lot of today's problems (even many that aren't immediately obvious) but some of what he says just makes him sound ridiculous. Yes, gas today is cheaper by the gallon than ice cream (one of his favorite points) but no one is buying 30 gallons of ice cream at a time and no one dep ...more
Samuel Mercuri
John Stossel brings his 20/20 investigative skills in "Myths, Lies, and Downright Stupidity". He takes apart everything we have been told by big government politicians and the liberal media, reducing their sensationalist ideas to shreds. His book is a libertarian take on all smorgasboard of topics such as: the media, the battle of the sexes, business, big government, schools, "consumer protection" lawyers, health, parenting and happiness.

If you were a regular viewer of John Stossel during his 20
Tim Hermanson
Overall this was a very thought provoking book. Stossel argues through a wide range of topics starting off each idea with a call and response of "myth" and "truth," and then goes on to explain exactly why he is right, and provides extensive research to back up his claims. His sides on lawsuits, education, and pursuit of happiness were especially compelling. The only part that I felt was strange was the fact the he had a chapter on parenting thrown in with other government issues that I did not f ...more
Paul Steele
I was already a fan of John Stossel's TV segments, now I can say the same about his writing. This is pretty much a collection of stories he's done for television. Well researched and put together as his work always is, and quite honest when revealing how he blindly fell for many of the thoughts and ideas exposed in the book.

A word of caution... if you are in love with your ideals and way of thinking about many items in today's culture, don't read this book. He just might challenge you to re-eval
Todd Stockslager
Review title: Stossel seems easily surprised by things I hope most already now
But maybe I'm the one who would be surprised by the absence of reason in the world around me. Seems like simple logic would tell people that funeral directors are often greedy predators, that bottled water is a ripoff, that government hurts more than it helps, but perhaps logic isn't so simple, and sense isn't so common as we would like.

Stossel (what is he up to these days?) for a while in the 90s and the 2000's was k
Richard Ward
Listened to the abridged audio version. Enjoyed it, but not enough to go back and find the unabridged version for any parts I might have missed. The author and I are both libertarians, and there was little in the book that I disagreed with. I do, though, think that the book has two critical flaws:
1. He covers so many topics, from so many different areas of life, that the book feels disjointed to the extreme. It would have been better if he had covered myths according to one central theme, even
A number of the myths Stossel presents need debunking in the worst way. I found myself cheering or breathing a sigh of relief in certain places. However, the quality of Stossel's research is uneven. He has endnotes, but the evidence he provides for his counter assertions is often almost as poor as the "evidence" he's disputing. Although I agree with many of his conclusions, I would have liked someone to do a better job of proving the point. I'm not just going to believe him because he's been on ...more
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