Friday, December 16, 2011

Kobra Kid Reviews: Debunking Handbook

Debunking Handbook
Debunking Handbook by John Cook

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

This handy little ebook weighs in at only 6* pages, and is a quick, useful read for skeptics everywhere.

To be honest, it will probably prove more helpful to those acting in a professional capacity than, say, your ordinary armchair skeptic. It is very much geared toward journalists, bloggers, and others of that sort who are active in trying to debunk the myths pervasive in our society. In this case, the focus is on climate change--that is, fighting the misinformation spewed forth from the ignorant blowholes of climate deniers--but the underlying principles laid out here could undoubtedly be applied to other subjects as well, such as pseudoscience, religion, or even politics.

At any rate, that's why I didn't give it more than two stars; because it's very narrow, and it's simply not going to do much for those of us who aren't into writing articles, or blogging, or whatever. However, it is still worth taking a few minutes of your time to read, regardless. There are several enlightening points, such as this:

"When people hear misinformation, they build a mental model, with the myth providing an explanation. When the myth is debunked, a gap is left in their mental model. To deal with this dilemma, people prefer an incorrect model over and incomplete model. In the absence of a better explanation, they opt for the wrong explanation."

If nothing else, keeping these things in mind may help you the next time you find yourself in a "debate" with someone who thinks they have all the answers because of a book of Bronze Age fairytales, or because Fox News told them so.

*There are technically 9 pages, but I don't count the cover, copyright page, or references.

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