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A Survival Guide to the Misinformation Age : Scientific Habits of Mind
by David J. Helfand


Overview - We live in the Information Age, with billions of bytes of data just two swipes away. Yet how much of this is mis- or even disinformation? A lot of it is, and your search engine can't tell the difference. As a result, an avalanche of misinformation threatens to overwhelm the discourse we so desperately need to address complex social problems such as climate change, the food and water crises, biodiversity collapse, and emerging threats to public health.  Read more...

 
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More About A Survival Guide to the Misinformation Age by David J. Helfand
 
 
 
Overview
We live in the Information Age, with billions of bytes of data just two swipes away. Yet how much of this is mis- or even disinformation? A lot of it is, and your search engine can't tell the difference. As a result, an avalanche of misinformation threatens to overwhelm the discourse we so desperately need to address complex social problems such as climate change, the food and water crises, biodiversity collapse, and emerging threats to public health. This book provides an inoculation against the misinformation epidemic by cultivating scientific habits of mind. Anyone can do it--indeed, everyone must do it if our species is to survive on this crowded and finite planet.

This survival guide supplies an essential set of apps for the prefrontal cortex while making science both accessible and entertaining. It will dissolve your fear of numbers, demystify graphs, and elucidate the key concepts of probability, all while celebrating the precise use of language and logic. David Helfand, one of our nation's leading astronomers and science educators, has taught scientific habits of mind to generations in the classroom, where he continues to wage a provocative battle against sloppy thinking and the encroachment of misinformation.

 
Details
  • ISBN-13: 9780231168724
  • ISBN-10: 0231168721
  • Publisher: Columbia University Press
  • Publish Date: February 2016
  • Page Count: 344
  • Reading Level: Ages 22-UP
  • Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.2 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds


Related Categories

Books > Education > Teaching Methods & Materials - Mathematics
Books > Mathematics > Study & Teaching
Books > Science > Physics - Mathematical & Computational

 
Publishers Weekly Reviews

Publishers Weekly® Reviews

  • Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
  • Review Date: 2016-01-04
  • Reviewer: Staff

Advertisers, public figures, and the media in general regularly misinform the public, but the Internet has taken this to a new level, reports Helfand, former chair of Columbia University’s department of astronomy. This cheerful corrective defines and demolishes many categories of nonsense. Warning that the brain is programmed to find patterns where none exist and to prefer simple, vivid explanations for reality, Helfand proceeds to show how competent scientists work and how to tell good evidence from bad. This turns out to be no simple task. Even scientists fail regularly, and readers must be prepared for meticulous explanations of scatter plots, Gaussian and Poisson distributions, proxies, and probability. Popular science writers traditionally boast that they will go light on mathematics, but Helfand will have none of that. As Jonathan Swift wrote, “Reasoning will never make a man correct an ill opinion which by reasoning he never acquired,” so this book will not attract climate-change deniers, anti-vaccine activists, creationists, astrology lovers, and the like. Darrell Huff’s delightful 1954 classic How to Lie with Statistics may be more accessible, but Helfand’s work is an admirable response to a long-standing problem of sloppy thinking. (Mar.)

 
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