Tom's Reviews > unSpun: Finding Facts in a World of Disinformation

unSpun by Kathleen Hall Jamieson
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's review
Mar 13, 08

Recommended for: students, teachers teaching research or critical thinking
Read in March, 2008

I got this book because I'd seen the author as a regular on Bill Moyers' show and I really liked what she had to say about politics and spin.

Unfortunately, this book wasn't as good as I wanted it to be. The book catalogs the ways that "spin" works in advertising and politics, and although I can't fault their suggestions or methodology, nothing in the book was earthshattering. I would like to think that any reasonably skeptical adult would already know most of what this book has to offer.

I kept reading it because I think this book *could* be a good teaching resource. Although I probably didn't need this book to tell me to be skeptical in the various specific ways it catalogs, or to be wary of the various kinds of common advertising and political half-truths and misleading statistical claims that it documents, I would find the book to be useful if I were trying to teach basic critical thinking and skepticism, because they have done a careful job thoughtfully walking you through how to be a thoughtful, skeptical, engaged thinker.

And I do think that the kind of thinking this book promotes is something worth teaching -- I especially think about this as I work with 9th graders this year.

Too often, students are either completely skeptical (you can't believe anything they say) or overly credulous (I love Obama, so everything he says is right). This book is a nice way to introduce skepticism and critical thinking while making it clear that it *is* possible to check up on what somebody says and to get real information from unbiased sources or at least from sources whose biases you can understand and evaluate.
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