Be skeptical of the media. The facts and statistics that are presented as proof of some assertion are frequently so distorted by political spin as to legitimately be called lies. How to discern true facts amidst the blizzard of information presented by the media is the subject of this book. It is claimed that Albert Einstein said, “If the facts don’t fit the theory, change the facts.” If he did say that, and he might have, it should be put into context, because he was probably making a punny joke to prove a point, because in a more serious mode he would have said, “If the facts don’t fit the theory, challenge the facts.”
There are many ways to game a statement to get the listener to view it in a particular way. Framing the question is critical. “May I smoke while I pray?” is roundly condemned, but “May I pray while I smoke?” is okay.
At the end of each chapter there is a Summing Up, where the principal ideas are compressed into a single sentence, followed by a brief explanatory paragraph. “1) Remember that all perceptions, judgments, and beliefs are inferences and not direct readouts of reality. 2) Pay more attention to context. This will improve the odds that you’ll correctly identify situational factors that are influencing your behavior and that of others. 3) Don’t assume that you know why you think what you think or do what you do. 4) Microeconomists are not agreed on just how it is that people make decisions or how they should make them. 5) Expended resources that can’t be retrieved should not be allowed to influence a decision about whether to consume something that those resources were used to obtain. 6) Loss considerations tend to loom too large relative to gain considerations. 7) Observations of objects or events should often be thought of as samples of a population.” – There are ten more chapters and summings up, but those quotes give you some reasons to read Mindware: Tools for Smart Thinkingby Richard E. Nisbett.
Nisbett will help thoughtful skeptics appreciate well-reasoned arguments based on clearly presented facts, but FOX watchers will get bored.