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unSpun: Finding Facts in a World of Disinformation
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unSpun: Finding Facts in a World of Disinformation

3.47  ·  Rating details ·  478 Ratings  ·  72 Reviews
Americans are bombarded daily with mixed messages, half-truths, misleading statements, and out-and-out fabrications masquerading as facts. The news media–once the vaunted watchdogs of our republic–are often too timid or distracted to identify these deceptions.

unSpun is the secret decoder ring for the twenty-first-century world of disinformation. Written by Brooks Jackson a
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Paperback, 195 pages
Published April 24th 2007 by Random House Trade Paperbacks (first published 2007)
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Tom
Jun 03, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: media
I read this book because it was on the "recommended reading" list of the old syllabus of a Media Literacy class I'm going to be teaching in the fall. The authors start off by purporting to have written a book that will save us hapless consumers from falling prey to the hype that we're subjected to by the media, advertising, and politics. However, instead of addressing their topic with sane, logical, well-researched arguments - the antidote of "spin" - they instead opt to fight fire with fire. Th ...more
Tom
Feb 24, 2008 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: students, teachers teaching research or critical thinking
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 r
...more
Jennifer Mangler
Yeah, there's nothing earth-shattering in this book, but I don't think there needs to be. It's built around things to watch for and things to do to avoid getting spun, and it's chock full of both advertising and political examples to help you see the ideas in action. It's a very helpful and easy to read book.
Kathy Elrick
Mar 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
The book offers a look at logical fallacies that are used in public discourse and particularly by popular media, such as cable news outlets, advertisements, and even academic studies. The time span is during the George W. Bush presidency, which then gives a very particular tone to the way the authors speak and some of the main anecdotes produced. UnSpun offers an anti-Bush, partisan tone that becomes more crystallized as the years progress but still relatable to the passions embedded in that ton ...more
Peacegal
Jan 07, 2012 rated it really liked it
Huckster marketing and spin has been around since the days of snake oil—which was a real product that didn’t actually contain snake oil and didn’t actually cure anything. That didn’t stop its creator Clark Stanley, from making a mint on the stuff before finally being shut down. The author tells us:

To promote his pricey cure-all, Stanley publicly slaughtered rattlesnakes at the Chicago World’s Fair of 1893.

In the new millennium, another questionable product made from dead exotic animals-- emu oi
...more
Carolyn
Sep 20, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Everyone should read this book right now! A lot of this you might know... yet we tend to forget to practice skepticism as we are bombarded daily with misleading and untruthful information. We have a desire to believe and disbelieve the things that support our opinion or tap into our fears or desires. It was written in 2007, so doesn't cover current presidential election (does talk about 2004 and earlier plus some interesting historical notes). You'll learn a lot more than you might currently kno ...more
Charlie
Jan 13, 2008 rated it really liked it
About: How to analyze the things you see and hear in terms of bias, accuracy and fudging.

Pros: A great primer on tricky stuff politicians, advertisers and others throw at you and how to realize it. Includes where to look to have a better chance at finding good info

Cons: One can't help but wonder in a book like this, if all of the presented info is accurate :)

Grade: A-
Mary Ellen
Aug 13, 2007 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: People interested in "unspinning" the media
Very well written and entertaining. Chock full of useful info al conveniently laid out like lesson plans in deconstructing media. I may borrow some of their outlines for zine classes.
Lori Vaughn
Jun 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Essential.
Andrew Canfield
Dec 09, 2016 rated it liked it
Unspun provided some fascinating case studies and looks at the ways information can be manipulated. The authors, who helped start up FactCheck.org, want to help readers see through misleading advertising by an array of entities. Writing this could have been another public service of sorts, alerting people (particular the target audience, which seemed to be older teens to young adults) to the manner in which naivete is preyed upon in modern society (and has been for generations). Considering that ...more
lia
Apr 03, 2008 rated it really liked it
I've been looking at a lot of books about fact checking and information/media literacy and was thrilled to find this one. Thrilled mainly from the outset that it was current, addressed bias in the media in a seemingly straightforward way and was broken down into manageable mouthfuls. And it ended up to be true to what I had hoped for. A perfect book to teach from, and to gather tricks and tips for the sadly ubiquitous handout. My main problem, and it really is a problem, is that they decided, in ...more
Christine
Sep 15, 2008 rated it liked it
I expected more from this book; really, it was more basic than my foundation-level reference class in library school. For nonlibrarians, or maybe people who just haven't thought about spin much before, this book would probably be good. Also, I wish they'd concentrated a bit more on finding information about political candidates and issues, rather than talking so much about consumer products. That said, I'd still make it required reading in high schools across America, if I had any kind of author ...more
Claire
Aug 24, 2011 rated it it was ok
I was bored to tears. This book gives insight into the world of the "spinners" and challenges the reader to consider both the said and the unsaid in making decisions in today's world. I wouldn't recommend this to anyone my age, as i'm a teenager. Unfortunately, I have yet to gain in interest in the political world and I already understand the constant "spinning" in the advertisment industry.
However, this book was incredibly well researched from page one and gives the readers newfound abbilities
...more
Jarrett King
Jul 18, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: summer-reading
This was a very informative book that came at a convenient time for this year's presidential election. All of the tips and pieces of advice are very useful and will help to clear up the mess that is the political ad war. However, the tips got repetitive towards the last third of the book. Basically they started boiling down to "don't assume facts are true; research them to prove them right or wrong". However, many of the examples were entertaining and relevant to today's society, even if politic ...more
Rachel
Jul 07, 2015 rated it really liked it
This was published in 2006 and I read it in 2015, which means two election cycles have passed and social media has become much more ingrained in our day-to-day life. It was fascinating and helpful to read but I would love to see an updated version that takes social media into account. Frankly, with the 2016 election already begun, it's worth a re-read, if only to make me take a look at myself and how I respond to political posturing and advertising.

This book should actually be required reading f
...more
Jim
Oct 04, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
The anecdotes and examples are fascinating but the hidden message of this book is that Americans, by and large, have stopped thinking. We've come to accept anything that comes out of the TV, internet and news media in all it's forms as the truth largely because we can't be bothered to take the time to think and search for the facts behind the spin, half-truths and out 'n' out lies. If nothing else, this books points out the need for a return to common sense and healthy skepticism without cynicis ...more
M.liss
May 05, 2014 rated it liked it
This would be a good textbook for an intro to media studies class, or, for the most fortunate of librarians, a one credit information literacy course. The writing style is very journalistic, and universally accessible, despite the heavy Penn influence (which I love, obvs). Sadly, however, this book had the misfortune of talking a good deal about the economy, and being published in 2007, which pretty much immediately made it outdated. A second edition would be incredibly welcome. The ideas are th ...more
Azrielq
Feb 28, 2012 rated it really liked it
Critical thinking is such a rarity that I believe everyone should read this book. Not only does it review some of the common mental fallacies that influence our thinking, but it also delves into different techniques and sources one can use to help mitigate their effects. Written by the Factcheck.org founders, I felt that this books did a great job at remaining relatively unbiased, looking at how both Republicans and Democrats lie in campaigns. It also covers different scams and common techniques ...more
Donald Shank
Mar 04, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This is one of the most important books a citizen can read, an indispensible guide for voters trying to cut through the bullshit of campaign stump speeches, political adds and candidate "debates". Read it with a critical eye, towards your own party as well as the opposition, because both sides will contort the truth and even lie, "advancing" their cause to the detriment of an honest public dialouge that is essential to good governance. This book will teach you how to recognize spin, then how to ...more
Robyn
Jan 24, 2010 rated it liked it
Recommended to Robyn by: Shawn Ekker
While not earth shatteringly informative, this is a good reminder to keep our minds open and our skepticism healthy as we consume information. I especially appreciated the section about considering sources. Just because a source has a bias doesn't mean it's inaccurate, but you should always be aware that the information could be candy coated, skewed or cherry picked so a smart consumer will beware.
Jennifer Daniel
Oct 14, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Even though I already doubt damn near every thing I hear this was still an interesting read. If nothing else I did learn how to "spin" my own stories to convince people to beleive me. It totally reinforced my theory that most people are mindless sheep and will go along with whatever someone else tells them. I so want to control the world! If only I had the perfect pair of shoes to wear while I was doing it.
Meg
Aug 18, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: teaching
This book has lots of helpful info, especially during an election year, but it was a bit repetitive. I read it with a class, and by the end, I was ready for it to be over. You definitely get the main point, though, so I guess the authors do a nice job of making a clear argument with lots of interesting examples. If you're going to read it, I would say you can skim most of it and easily get the gist.
Marcia Buckie
Apr 02, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I feel this is a such a great find: a book that helps make us aware of everyone's propensity to choose the facts that support their position. Everyone needs to critically examine data, especially with the decline in the quality of journalism and corporate fraud.

Its very user friendly, could be read by a someone as young as 11 or 12. Its not a long read..I really think everyone should read it!
Melissa Kerr
Aug 20, 2012 rated it it was ok
This was not the most interesting book, but the stories amazed me. People are easily deceived, and it was nice to get tips on how not to. Some of the political anecdotes became a bore towards the end. Much of this I already knew. It was comforting to reinforce and strengthens ability to tell fact from fiction.
Gabby Male
Aug 14, 2012 rated it liked it
From page one the book pulled me in with interesting and intriguing facts that made me want to keep reading. I really enjoyed some of the things i learned during this book about advertisements and the government and it also helped me a lot to learn how to "unspin" myself as a voter and to realize when things people say are true or false.
Duncan63
Aug 20, 2012 rated it liked it
very interesting report on advertising in today's world. especially relevant in this election year, this book provides some of the greatest tip for staying correctly informed with so much wrong information floating around. a definite must-read, the book does fall sometimes into using its examples repeatedly and over-simplifying its explanations. Other than that, a great book.
Taylorturtle
Jun 28, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: school
This book is different than what I'm used to reading, but I enjoyed it all the same. This book informs you how not to get tricked by society, which I try to do anyway, but this book has taught me much more! A must read for anyone who is above the age of like 15! Or anyone buying products/medicine, or voting. Very helpful
Janice
Jul 27, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
In an election year, this was very interesting. Had some really good examples and ways to check for the spin. Also helps you understand that you, yourself can fall into the web. I would love to see this updated with this election under the microscope. I'm sure the author could have a field day with Donald Trump.
Alex Doran
Aug 09, 2012 rated it liked it
Some of the techniques that were brought up were kind of interesting but i think a lot of them were no-duh. Now i can't watch an infomercial or campaign add without thinking of all of the different types of spin. And this book made me think: Is Kathleen Jameison a reliable source and should i trust her? or is she spinning information on spinning information. haha.
Jenny
Jul 18, 2007 rated it really liked it
This slim book provides good instruction of how to recognize spin and how to think logically in a world filled with misinformation and obfuscation. I was impressed with how bipartisan it was in its examples. :-) I would have liked for these authors to look with as close an eye at their own organization, Fact Check to clarify how immune they are from spin. Overall a solid instructional book.
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“Scholars tell us that redundancy is correlated with retention. To minimize retention, a propagandist says one thing while showing the opposite. When the two differ, what we see tends to override what we hear.” 1 likes
“Ironically, breast cancer gets so much attention partly because so many women survive it and become advocates, producing and participating in publicity-grabbing events such as the annual Race for the Cure.” 1 likes
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