Picture yourself at a college football championship game. Cheering fans of both teams clog the stands. The play is rough, and the crowd is fed up. Supporters of each side insist that their own guys are playing fair but the other team is clearly breaking the rules. How can both sides be right? According to the surprising insights of True Enough, they are: when sports fans claim to see only the opposing team playing dirty, that really is what they "see." It is a classic example of how our deeply held beliefs can supplant our very perceptions of what's "real" and what's not in the world around us. And as Farhad Manjoo explains, the phenomenon holds sway in areas far removed from football.
In True Enough, Manjoo presents findings from psychology, sociology, political science, and economics to show how new technologies are prompting the cultural ascendancy of belief over fact. In an age of talk radio, cable TV, and the Internetthe blog- and YouTube-addled million-channel media universeit is no longer necessary for any of us to confront notions that contradict what we "know" to be true. Stephen Colbert calls this "truthiness"when something feels true without any evidence that it is. Here Manjoo probes the cognitive basis of truthiness, exploring how biases push both liberals and conservatives to select and interpret news in a way that accords with their personal versions of "reality."
Why has punditry lately overtaken news, with so many media outlets pushing partisan agendas instead of information? Why do lies seem to linger so long in the cultural subconscious even after they've been thoroughly discredited? And why, when more people than ever before are documenting the truth with laptops and digital cameras, does fact-free spin and propagandaseem to work so well? True Enough explores leading controversies of national politics, foreign affairs, science, and business, explaining how Americans have begun to organize themselves into echo chambers that harbor diametrically different factsnot merely opinionsfrom those of the larger culture. We meet people who espouse far-out interpretations of realityabout everything from the history of John Kerry's time in Vietnam to the integrity of the 2004 election to the truth about 9/11and dig into the mechanism by which they came to hold those beliefs.
Controversial, at times disturbing, and always fascinating, True Enough will prompt you to think twice about how you too came to believe all that you do. Are your own truths really trueor merely true enough?