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Post-Truth: How Bullshit Conquered the World

3.71  ·  Rating details ·  297 ratings  ·  35 reviews
2016 marked the dawn of the post-truth era. The year saw two shock election results, each of which has the potential to reshape the world: the UK's decision to leave the EU, and the elevation of Donald Trump to the office of U.S. President. The campaigns highlighted many of the same issues in their home countries: social division, anger at the elite, anti-immigration senti ...more
Paperback, 320 pages
Published November 14th 2017 by Biteback Publishing
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Start your review of Post-Truth: How Bullshit Conquered the World
A mixed bag, which is a shame, because once Ball got to the core of his argument it was a good read. Mildy outdated already, of course, but that's just the nature of writing about current affairs, and I was sure it would be when starting the book. My main problem was that a large chunk of the book was yet another blow-by-blow account of both Trump's raise to power in the US and the triumph of the Leave campaign in the UK's Brexit referendum. I have two problems with this. Firstly, unless you've ...more
David Cross
May 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing
If you have any interest in how people find, digest and share information through old media, new media (who remembers new media?) or social media, then you'll find this book as fascinating as I did.

And if you don't have any interest in that subject, then you really should.
Terry Clague
Oct 04, 2018 rated it liked it
An apt birthday gift (thanks Hywel), this was one of a slew of books published in the aftermath of 2016, something of an annus horribilis on many levels which could be characterised as an age in which various chickens came home to bullshit. Or something.

The author, a "data journalist", divides online opinion but clearly has a talent suited to the age - it may be that the technocratic tone and apparent ideological deafness does him no favours with some audiences. His book wants to argue that we'r
Alyssa Grace
Oct 16, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: political
You'd think the deluge of Trump/Brexit-related media would have reached saturation long ago, but by this point, I've pretty much given up hope of people ever tiring of news regarding America's clown-in-chief. I picked up James Ball's Post-Truth with the naive belief that it might cover a wider breadth than just those two topics that have bombarded the English-speaking world of late, but sadly, that is exactly what the book spends 95% of its time on. Without a doubt, Post-Truth is well-researched ...more
Tara Brabazon
Oct 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Read this book. Read this book right now. If I can get enough people to read this book, then the world - teaching, learning, politics, militarization and nationalism - may also transform.

This book is about Trump and Brexit, but it is a 'how to' guide about how and why a reality television host became president and the majority of a nation voted against their own best interests.

It is a book about 'bullshit' and that is the correct word to use. How have absolutely irrelevant, pointless, wrong and
Jan 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
The first half of the book largely (and clearly) sums up a lot of what we already knew, but when it draws towards what we can do about the problems, and the obstacles to overcome, it is both eye-opening and sensible.

What we need now is someone to take heed
R Davies
Jul 27, 2018 rated it really liked it
A really clear articulation of the dilemma and dangers of how information is communicated, sold, weaponised and diffused to and by people for various agendas. Ball deploys a broad cover under the label,'Bullshit' beyond just "fake news" to include, partial-truths, absurdities, outright fabrications and disingenous reporting as they all serve to undermine collective consensus, the principle of an objective truth or any authority to which one could defer to, outsite of partisan preferences.

The fo
Stan James
Sep 13, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: reviewed
The biggest issue with Post-Truth is that the people who could most benefit from it will never read it. In fact, they'd likely just disregard it as more "fake news." For someone like myself, there is little in here that is revelatory. I am only too aware of the rise of not just fake news (both real and imagined) but also what author James Ball calls "bad news," which is not to say someone is calling to tell you your pet hamster Binky just had a very unfortunate accident, but is rather a descript ...more
Nov 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is a great read that offers fairly good analysis of the problem of a post-truth society.
Ball analyzes a number of significant factors that contribute to a world filled with fake news. It's not just politicians but the economic incentive system for both old and new media (particularly social media) and for psychological and sociological reasons.

I was intrigued to learn that a small town in Macedonia cranked out large amount of fake claims during US election time because it's profitable to m
Apr 24, 2018 rated it really liked it
Knowing what people we disagree with actually say and think – rather than the straw men and caricatures we create in our heads – helps us bridge gaps, and makes it harder to demonise people whose politics are different from our own.

Ball succinctly digs beneath the catch all of “fake news” and explores how the emotional and sensationalised, the half truths and full on lies came to be so prevalent in US and UK politics and culture.

The book is structured in four parts. The first, “The Power of Bu
Jan 09, 2019 rated it liked it
Who is author James Ball? "James Ball has worked in political, data, and investigative journalism in the United States and in the UK for BuzzFeed, The Guardian, and the Washington Post in a career spanning TV, digital, print, and alternative media. His reporting has won several prizes including the Pulitzer Prize for public service." (Barnes and Noble)

In this book Ball looks into the rise of T rump and his first year of bs as well as the Brexit vote and its background. I admittedly skipped some
Jan 19, 2019 rated it liked it
The author has written a work of recent history that is very relevant this week, in which Parliament voted down the Brexit plan of Teresa May and she just missed being replaced as her party’s leader. May had a thankless task: to try to convince a bunch of skeptics that she had gotten the best deal for her country. In the meantime, the real culprits, Nigel Farage, Boris Johnson,, are missing. As Ball described, the Leave Campaign never told the voters the truth. Just as a few months later, ...more
Mark Iliff
Aug 05, 2017 rated it liked it
Subtitled “How bullshit conquered the world”, its release soon after Brexit & Trump is very timely. I wish I could be more enthusiastic.

Ball does a great job of tracking the rise of strategic lying and giving some reasons for its success. I guess I’d hoped the bit where he suggests ways of fighting it would be stronger … optimistic of me perhaps, but surely a prime motivator for reading.

One surprising omission is any attempt to compare and contrast countries where the tactic works with those wh
Nic Chambers-Parkes
Mar 23, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2019-targets
I enjoy what I generally call "bullshit books", so the title of this one made it an obvious inclusion in my list. Despite life meaning that I took far longer to read it than I'd hoped, I found that perhaps I'd set my hopes too high. There's nothing wrong with the book at all - it's a fair and frank assessment of the modern 'post truth' era - but I found that the first two parts of the book, in fact most of the book with the exception of the conclusion, was rehearsing a story I already knew insid ...more
Bethany Woodcock
Aug 03, 2020 rated it it was ok
I was excited to read this book after the first chapter that gave a broad overview of 'post-truth', 'fake news' and 'bullshit' coming from all sides of the political spectrum.

However, as I read more I could see how the book was unfortunately political aligned despite 'bullshit' being spouted by all and every side. I would definitely have given this book a higher rating if it had spoken more than just about Donald Trump and Brexit (groaaaan) and more on the 'every day' bullshit, not just that re
Nia Nymue
Dec 04, 2017 rated it really liked it
I wasn't sure if this was a credible book, especially when I read the first chapter and saw that many of its sources are from Twitter/ online.

But I think it was still a really good read. It makes you think about what objectivity in reporting really is, and if it's possible, and I'm now much more aware of the various parts of an online article, and how sites are struggling to maintain professionalism while making money.

The writer offers some suggestions to various stakeholders at the end. They're
Jun 13, 2020 rated it it was ok
2016 marked the birth of the post-truth era. Sophistry and spin have coloured politics since the dawn of time, but two shock events – the Brexit vote and Donald Trump’s elevation to US President – heralded a departure into murkier territory.

Bullshit gets you noticed. Bullshit makes you rich. Bullshit can even pave your way to the Oval Office.

This is bigger than fake news and bigger than social media. It’s about the slow rise of a political, media and online infrastructure that has devalued truth
Duane Prejean
Oct 28, 2019 rated it really liked it
This book is an incredible treatise on many of the problems with information today.
We tend to believe what we want to believe and we can manipulate facts and half truths to mirror our own biases and points of view. This book reminds us that, if we can, we should try to be more discerning of consumption of news and information.
If truth is stranger than fiction, then Post-Truth trumps it all. The poster-boy (POTUS) in this narrative gets numerous mentions in this book about all the (fake) news that's fit to print. We live in interesting times, indeed.
Sep 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
An inquisitive analysis of the modern media infrastructure which seeks to understand why 'fake news' has spread and how we need to act to stop it. Very interesting reflections on the objectivity of journalism and a shift that may need to take place.
Jul 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A very good read through which I've learned a lot. Keep up the good work.
Tom Bevan
Aug 04, 2017 rated it liked it
Mildly dated already (times are moving fast!!) but a good basic primer in understanding the biases and drivers behind our collective consumption of information, both true and false.
Oct 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Well worth a read for anyone interested in fake news, Brexit, the Trump election and the spreading of rumours in social media.
Mar 22, 2018 rated it liked it
So and so. Chronicles the rise of fake news but doesn't go the root of the problem.
Roman Loban
Apr 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A very important book and essential reading for everyone, who is interested in tackling media bullshit both from the left and right. James Ball is a truly talented journalist and writer!
Apr 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Eye opening. Mr. Ball examines what Bullshit occurred and culminated in Brexit and the Trump Presidency. Depressing implications at times; however, do-able solutions are proposed.
May 08, 2018 rated it liked it
Very thorough examination of bullshit. Sobering to realize how pervasive it is. And how little we can really do to stamp it out.
Dec 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: media
Very deep investigation covering all angles of the spread of bullshit. A nice read if you want to know more about how personal behaviours, politics and media work all together.
Jan 29, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: 3-star-books
Interesting, but a little too long for me personally. Have to mention that I'm usually not that into non-fiction so it's not a surprise
Olly Scholes
Jul 29, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Needs to be read in schools/colleges/uni.
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