Friday, July 24, 2015

Review # 299: No Bull Information: A Humorous Practical Guide to Help Americans Adapt to the Information Age by John Gamble

Description: (book jacket)

          How can even active, informed citizens keep up with, understand, and evaluate the mass of information bombarding us as we move through the 21st century? There are practical steps Americans can take that make it easier to spot information that is worth considering---hence the title of the book---“No Bull Information” or NBI. This NBI crusade has many aspects including deceptive words (encore performance), confusing numbers (a stunning 30% increase in inflation), evasion from politicians (I really hope the Senate will pass the bill). NBI explains tactics used to sneak grossly inaccurate information past even intelligent, well-informed people. NBI is a brief, humorous book with a character, Arnbi, everyone can identify with. NBI first provides ways to spot bogus information and then explains tangible actions you can take, actions that fit your individual situation.

Review:

          Dr. John Gamble’s No Bull Information -  A Humorous Practical Guide to Help Americans Adapt to the Information Age, began with a single quote: “Too bad, but “simple” is a square peg that seldom fits into the round hole that is our modern world”; an important reminder that not everything is one sided or without its flaws. In this case, information (on a national scale) is not what it seems due to serious problems in the way that information is presented, understood, and used, especially when it comes to misinformation. In the 21st century, people demand “fast, brief, and simple” access to information at all times, often via social media, texting, computers, TV, or by cell phone, so it’s no great surprise that much of that information is shoddy and/or used to carry an agenda of its own. Sure, getting some bad information may not have massive consequences, but in some cases, getting the wrong idea about something can be a life-or-death situation. This is why Dr. Gamble proposes the No Bull Information (NBI) method, to better equip American citizens to be able to evaluate the information around them in order to make safe/ smart decisions. Clearer, less ambiguous information can lead to an improved government, economy, and quality of living, limiting the number of communication and political breakdowns we see today. According to the book, NBI’s overarching goal is not only to provide the real facts, but to make sure that they are understood in the correct context, because the world is a complex place nowadays. Information is no longer held to the high standards it once was, causing people to question the information they receive; in a sense, becoming indecisive and misanthropic. This is why NBI is needed, to “cut the crap” and allow for real consideration and decision making. I am actually quite surprised by how much I enjoyed Dr. Gamble’s humorous and straight to the point approach. His clever use of Arnbi to express the most important aspects of NBI works well with the chapter-based self-help format, providing ARNBisms, rules, and comic relief. Chapters deal with a vast array of misinformation sources (oversimplification, gray areas, the thinking process, numbers/ statistics, deceptive samplings and rankings, double-meanings, gimmicks, pitch-people, etcetera…), as well as techniques to put NBI into national practice. The book is easy-to-read and understand, with well-researched, supported, and referenced concepts and examples (as footnotes) throughout the book. I like how Dr. Gamble promotes common sense - something that people tend to overlook, especially when they are pressured or stressed. The Survey CARDS are also a really great idea, solidifying each chapter’s biggest points. Overall, I agree with a great deal of what NBI is all about, and will definitely be recommending No Bull Information to other readers who suffer from information overload.

Rating: On the Run (4/5)

Excerpt

" Introductions to books are difficult, especially when writing about a topic as broad as information. This is true for me. I have been a college professor for more than 30 years. I am convinced there are serious problems with the way information is presented and understood. This affects all Americans. I am writing for and to them.

At the most basic level, this book is about facts, basic units of information. I explain how facts are the building blocks of information and understanding. "Fact traps" are everywhere, many very subtle. As you'll see, understanding facts and what to do with them involves far more than recognizing and discarding misinformation. Often that is the easy part. Far more important is understanding facts, where they fit, and what to do with them.

On March 2, 1962, a basketball player scored 100 points in a single game. On the face of it, this seems like quite a big deal. But we must go further and put the fact into context. We need to know this was in the NBA, the premier professional basketball league in the world. The player, Wilt Chamberlain, was one of the greatest players who ever lived. This record has never been matched. It’s only in the context of this additional information that we can truly appreciate what an achievement Chamberlain accomplished in that game.

Americans need to be better equipped to evaluate the massive amounts of information bombarding us. A new type of information literacy must be developed for the Internet age. This is essential to the operation of our democracy and our free market economic system. We need a more astute citizenry, able to make more intelligent judgments if not to leap tall buildings in a single bound. If we don’t achieve this, competition in business will not work properly, election choices will be shortsighted, and our government will not be able to make tough decisions.

Thousands if not millions of people can participate in what I hope will become a mass movement that I call NBI—No-Bull Information. This will reduce the chances of bank bailouts, oil spills, elected officials who ignore scientific proof, and anonymous billionaires who spend obscene amounts of money on election campaigns. My goals might seem unrealistic and naïve. Once you read a bit further, I am confident you’ll see this can work and you can be a part of it. The average American is smarter and more analytic than politicians, credit card companies, supermarkets, Super PACs, and TV shows seem to believe. "


About the Author


          Dr. John Gamble is Distinguished Professor of Political Science and International Law at Penn State’s Behrend College in Erie and Director of Honors Programs. He is the author of approximately 100 publications and recently won Penn State’s most prestigious award for teaching, the Milton S. Eisenhower Award for Distinguished Teaching.

          Dr. Gamble has stuttered all of his life. As a result, he believes words are precious and should not be taken for granted; this motivated him to write NO BULL INFORMATION. His dream for the book is that parents and grandparents will teach their children and grandchildren NBI techniques and demand clear, concise information from political leaders and service and product providers.

For More Information:
Connect with Dr. Gamble on Facebook.
Find out more about Dr. Gamble at Goodreads.



*** I received this book from the author/ publisher in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.

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