Two philosophers of science argue that social factors, rather than individual psychology, are what’s essential to understanding the spread and persistence of false beliefs—a phenomenon that has irked truth seekers for centuries.
...methodical and earnest ... The book contains useful summaries of the debates in the 1980s around the ozone layer and acid rain ... The one thing you begin to notice in this book is that propagating a reflexive skepticism and sowing discord aren’t terribly difficult, especially when there’s a vested interest willing to pay for it; 'merely creating the appearance of controversy' is often all that needs to be done.
Connor and Weatherall join the ranks of journalists and historians who churn out canned histories of the role of 'fake news' in America in the last two centuries, and their own such summary is smart and readable. But such summaries attempt to normalize the present by contextualizing it in the past; this is itself an attempt at creating fake news. This in itself is misinformation. There is no analog anywhere in post-Civil War America for the gushing font of frenzied, compulsive lying now being done every single day by the President of the United States ... The authors clearly want to ground the whole concept in a broader setting, but this is like the Fire Department rushing to a roaring inferno and beginning their rescue attempts with a 40-minute PowerPoint presentation on the history of house fires in America.
... notable ... The Misinformation Age explains systematically how facts are determined and changed—whether it is concerning the effects of vaccination on children or the Russian attack on the integrity of our electoral process ... O’Connor and Weatherall’s work will help us face the 'alternative facts' that Trump relies upon.