From fringe conspiracy theories to 'alternative facts', a timely look at how we arrived in the 'fake news' era.
Would your younger self, even from a few years ago, believe the news of today? An entire block of a major city blown up by a suicide bomber on Christmas Day because he believed phone towers spread disease. A representative elected to the US Congress on a platform that Democrats are secretly harvesting an anti-aging chemical from the blood of abused children. Angry rioters in furs and horns overrun the Capitol in a bloody carnage of insurrection, intent on hanging their very own candidate. The Prime Minister of Australia employing the wife of his friend who fronts a group the FBI have declared terrorists. A global pandemic which, even as they lie dying from it, people refuse to believe exists.
Many who sat in shocked disbelief as pictures of these events beamed around the world had the same question: 'How did we get here?' For those rioters, it was the culmination of a journey of online radicalisation that began with the weaponisation of disinformation by their political leaders and outrageously biased 'news' commentators.
Facts and Other Lies puts fake news in its historical context and explains how disinformation has fractured society, even threatening democracy itself. It explains why disinformation is so potent and so hard to stop, and what we can do to help prevent its proliferation in Australia-where politicians and shock jocks are already operating from the same dark playbook. It outlines how anyone can defuse disinformation in the home, office or pub, or wherever the deluded gather to spread their nonsense. Be prepared!
'Read this book if you want to save democracy'
Wayne Swan, former Deputy Prime Minister of Australia
'Essential reading for anyone wanting to cut through the nonsense and get to the truth'
Eason Jordan, former Chief News Executive, CNN
'This is a timely account of a growing malignancy affecting all modern democracies'
Kevin Rudd, former Prime Minister of Australia
'We live in a world that unfolds at a pace, and with the violent twists and turns in the plot, of a thriller. This book captures the intensity of our politics and connects it to the science of misinformation . . . a great read'
Professor Stephan Lewandowsky, Chair in Cognitive Psychology, University of Bristol