A Field Guide to Lies: Critical Thinking in the Information by Daniel J. Levitin

By Daniel J. Levitin

From The New York occasions bestselling writer of THE geared up brain and this is often YOUR mind ON track, a primer to the serious considering that's extra important now than ever.

We are bombarded with additional information on a daily basis than our brains can process—especially in election season. it really is raining undesirable information, half-truths, or even outright lies. New York Times bestselling writer Daniel J. Levitin shows tips to realize deceptive bulletins, facts, graphs, and written reviews revealing the methods mendacity weasels can use them.

it is changing into more durable to split the wheat from the electronic chaff. How can we distinguish incorrect information, pseudo-facts, distortions, and outright lies from trustworthy info? Levitin teams his box advisor into categories—statistical infomation and defective arguments—ultimately exhibiting how technology is the bedrock of serious pondering. Infoliteracy capability realizing that there are hierarchies of resource caliber and bias that variously distort our info feeds through each media channel, together with social media. We may perhaps anticipate newspapers, bloggers, the govt, and Wikipedia to be factually and logically right, yet they so frequently are usually not. we have to imagine significantly concerning the phrases and numbers we come across if we wish to prevail at paintings, at play, and in benefiting from our lives. this suggests checking the plausibility and reasoning—not passively accepting info, repeating it, and making judgements in keeping with it. Readers learn how to stay away from the extremes of passive gullibility and cynical rejection. Levitin's fascinating, wonderful, obtainable advisor can assist a person get up to a complete lot of items that are not so. And capture a few mendacity weasels of their tracks!


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Additional resources for A Field Guide to Lies: Critical Thinking in the Information Age

Example text

Which one is true? You’d need to have a measure of how the one variable changes as a function of the other, a statistic known as a correlation. Correlations range from −1 to 1. A correlation of 0 means that one variable is not related to the other at all. A correlation of -1 means that as one variable goes up, the other goes down, in precise synchrony. A correlation of 1 means that as one variable goes up, the other does too, also in precise synchrony. The first graph appears to be illustrating a correlation of 0, the second graph appears to be representing one that is close to 1.

This is especially important if you’re documenting some actual or projected change in a quantity, and you want your readers to draw the right conclusions. If you’re representing crime rate, deaths, births, income, or any quantity that could take on a value of zero, then zero should be the minimum point on your graph. But if your aim is to create panic or outrage, start your y-axis somewhere near the lowest value you’re plotting—this will emphasize the difference you’re trying to highlight, because the eye is drawn to the size of the difference as shown on the graph, and the actual size of the difference is obscured.

If your axes aren’t labeled, you can draw or plot anything you want! Here is an example from a poster presented at a conference by a student researcher, which looked like this (I’ve redrawn it here): What does all that mean? From the text on the poster itself (though not on this graph), we know that the researchers are studying brain activations in patients with schizophrenia (SZ). What are HCs?  .  . the units could be anything! What are we looking at? Scores on a test, levels of brain activations, number of brain regions activated?

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A Field Guide to Lies: Critical Thinking in the Information by Daniel J. Levitin
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