On Rumors: How Falsehoods Spread, Why We Believe Them, What Can Be Done
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On Rumors: How Falsehoods Spread, Why We Believe Them, What Can Be Done

3.09 of 5 stars 3.09  ·  rating details  ·  79 ratings  ·  17 reviews
Many of us are being misled. Claiming to know the “pals” of presidential aspirants, dark secrets about public officials, and hidden causes of the current economic crisis, those who spread rumors know precisely what they are doing. They are sometimes able to derail political candidates, injure companies and reputations, even damage democratic governance. And in the era of t...more
Hardcover, 112 pages
Published September 29th 2009 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (first published 2009)
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While essentially an essay, and interesting for the most part, that author fails to convince me of his conclusions. The more interesting and telling part is the discussion on the psychology of rumors, why people accept them, and why they are so difficult to refute. The author then tries to discuss legal cases and statutes in which he implies that a softening of the First Amendment would be best for stopping the spread of falsehood, which I find troubling. A quick read, but one to take with more...more
Khalid Almoghrabi
كتاب يفسر سبب ظهور الشائعات وآليات انتشارها ويقدم عدداً من الامثلة على احداث راهنة. الكتاب بالمجمل جيد وفيه شيء من التحليل الجيد
This slim volume has a lot to say.

I appreciated the gist of this book: rumors have more traction than we sometimes think, particularly in the "echo chambers" of social networks on the internet, and even among the smartest and most earnest of us. This problem can ruin reputations, and destroy families and careers. And I likewise appreciated Sunstein's legal/policy suggestions for what to do to deter rumors, given the damage they leave in their wake.

Still, perhaps because Sunstein attempts to of...more
i occasionally teach an evening course in applied ethics at a local university. The past two times I used this little book as a required text. I advocate what I might call "epistemological responsibility". Basically, I feel we are responsible for what we know, how we come by our knowledge, how we communicate it to others, and, perhaps most importantly, how we monitor our beliefs and assumptions so as to allow for their correction or adjustment when necessary.

I think the book is a gem by so conc...more
This book wins points for the simple fact that it has one of the most accurate titles of any nonfiction book I've read - it's on target, to the point, and the book delivers. I had seen this book at several different stores, and well, the size (it clocks in at under one hundred pages) made me decide to read it. And I'm really glad I did as it's a great book. It is well written and organized, gives the right amount of information, and best of all, is fascinating. There's a definite legal twist (no...more
Oct 03, 2009 Shinynickel marked it as to-read
Off this review:

On Rumors: How Falsehoods Spread, Why We Believe Them, What Can Be Done
By Cass R. Sunstein (Farrar, Straus, and Giroux)
Recently confirmed “regulatory czar” Cass Sunstein follows up his Going to Extremes with a short but powerful treatise on how misinformation is created and how it spreads through social networks. While there have always been rumors, the internet epitomizes Sunstein’s conditions for their growth and spread. And marrying his expertise as a law scholar and his work...more
Alex Templeton
Marvin Frankel could teach this in his Deception and Self-Deception course back at SLC! In fact, I kind of wished I had read it back then. The social psych concepts that Sunstein talks about reminded me of all the fascinating stuff I used to learn about and discuss back in the day. The book also was a little dry in its presentation, and the information would have been livened up with seminar discussion, I think. Sunstein's discussion of why people spread and believe falsehoods is compelling, yet...more
Margaret Sankey
Taking as a given that people are wired to find patterns in events to give us security and meaning, but that there have been traditional blocks or speed bumps to information cascade and groupthink--in the form of authority figures, effective censorship, slow moving communications, Sunstein speculates on what this means in a world where messages are spread much more quickly through technological networks, few rebuttals do not backfire and cranks can find each other with the click of a mouse. Plus...more
Nick Huntington-Klein
I loved Nudge, but this book is far from insightful. I will save you some time: read the title and subtitle, and spend half an hour thinking to yourself about the topic. You've now probably hit all the major points. You can then skip the book and won't miss much, except some legal factoids near the end.
Till Schreiber
not a book, but long essay. people believe rumors to which they are predisposed. internet makes spreading them easier, repudiation might not work. discussion of legal issues in the end.
Fabulous short book (100 pages total) discussing the problems of "rumors" (lies) spread by communication-savvy communicators -- e.g., President Obama is not a native-born citizen, Saddam planned the 911 attacks, Iraq had WMDs, etc. Why people believe them, and what to do about it.
Jonathan-David Jackson
This book was depressing, and the subtitle can be broken down as follows:

How falsehoods spread: everyone is a jerk
Why we believe them: because we're stupid and only listen to what we want to hear
What can be done: nothing

It was interesting though, and I did enjoy it.
Denise Weldon-siviy
This had GREAT potential. Then the author threw it away by droning on in suppositions and hypotheticals. Really? Like there aren't enough real people believing completely ridiculous rumors that he could have used to make this interesting and engaging?
Interesting little book about the informal channels that shape information as it moves through society. Read the last five pages if you're in a hurry. Then go to earlier in the book for more detail about the points that you're more curious about.
It was interesting, but I admit, I found Patricia M. Spack's book on Gossip more interesting, with some similar ideas, though certainly Spacks book is a more historiographical/literary study.
Nenia Campbell
You can read more reviews at my blog, The Armchair Librarian.

"[W]hen people believe rumors, the believers are often perfectly rational, in the sense that their belief is quite sensible in light of their existing knowledge" (5).

More on that in a mo'.

I think the majority of my interest in this book came from the fact that On Rumors seemed as if it were perfectly tailored to explain the drama that has been happening on (and off) Goodreads lately. That, and it was also $1. And it was about psycholo...more
كتاب يشرح كيفية انتشار الشائعات بين الناس ومداولتها . أعجبني
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Cass R. Sunstein is an American legal scholar, particularly in the fields of constitutional law, administrative law, environmental law, and law and behavioral economics, who currently is the Administrator of the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs in the Obama administration. For 27 years, Sunstein taught at the University of Chicago Law School, where he continues to teach as...more
More about Cass R. Sunstein...
Infotopia: How Many Minds Produce Knowledge Simpler: The Future of Government The Second Bill of Rights: FDR's Unfinished Revolution--And Why We Need It More Than Ever Going to Extremes: How Like Minds Unite and Divide Why Societies Need Dissent (Oliver Wendell Holmes Lectures)

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“Emotions can get in the way of truth-seeking. People do not process information in a neutral way.” 8 likes
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