Review by C.J. Bunce
YouTube attempts to crack down on misinformation and conspiracy
Facebook officer reportedly leaving over misinformation dispute
The headlines this week speak for themselves–the time seems right for a new understanding of misinformation. The subject has been written about before and from different angles, and author and journalist Rex Sorgatz includes dozens of references to those previous books that inspired his new treatise. Part An Incomplete Education, part In Search Of…, part Uncle John’s Bathroom Reader, a new book coming from Abrams Image is also a useful Guide to Living in the Modern World. It’s The Encyclopedia of Misinformation: A Compendium of Imitations, Spoofs, Delusions, Simulations, Counterfeits, Impostors, Illusions, Confabulations, Skullduggery, Frauds, Pseudoscience, Propaganda, Hoaxes, Flimflam, Pranks, Hornswoggle, Conspiracies & Miscellaneous Fakery. It’s a smart, compelling mix of information you would find in updates and appendices to college textbooks on advertising, public relations, psychology, criminology, politics, journalism, futurism, and current affairs, with a dose of pseudoscience and other quackery.
For most, The Encyclopedia of Misinformation will get readers caught up on what everyone else has been talking about, or in some places, defining a thing you already know with a succinct word or phrase. The author puts his own spin on nearly 300 concepts–some terms may be familiar, some newer ideas may be defined with more recent turns of phrase. Sorgatz discusses many more concepts than the core defined terms as he fleshes out each alphabetized key word. Happily for any reader, this book does not read like an actual encyclopedia. Instead Sorgatz interconnects concepts with a series of visual hotlinks that aren’t really links (it’s a printed book, after all), including citations to words not specifically defined in the book. But it’s very clear that were a reader to read the book cover to cover and actually look up all the linked terms he/she doesn’t know already, that reader would be pretty caught up with current affairs. Although the author suggests bouncing around and reading whatever seems interesting, The Encyclopedia of Misinformation is one of those indispensable, unputdownable non-fiction books that easily can be read straight through in two or three sittings.
So this book’s for you if you don’t know alien space bats, that an auto-tune has nothing to do with the radio, that canned heat isn’t hot, the difference between modern catfish and Chilean sea bass, who was or still is Tony Clifton, if you can’t tell a cryptid from capgras, what’s a deep state and how you doublethink, that false flags and foreign branding are not the stuff of international relations, the difference between a honeypot and a honey trap, that lorem ipsem is not Latin, if you don’t know the Mandela effect and are concerned you haven’t visited the moirologist lately, what’s a noddy and what’s a nonce, what the heck is pareidolia, plandids, and retconning, sampuru and simulism, or why you should know Zardulu. Do you want to know how a fake band beat Dylan, Aretha, Elvis, Jagger, Bowie, Iggy, Janis, McCartney, and Lennon for the biggest hit of 1969? How can the author explain the inclusion of cyborgs and cosplay as misinformation terms?
Sorgatz includes lists to give examples of several of his concepts, and it’s all couched in both wit and sincere scholarship. If you went to grade school or college in the 20th century, The Encyclopedia of Misinformation offers up some beneficial updates to your Psych 101 and Philosophy 101 textbooks. Even the most well-read and up-to-date newshound will learn plenty. Pop culture references abound, too, so everyone young or old will find some concepts, stories, mini-histories, and historic theories that will be both familiar and also tie into current affairs and trends.
The Encyclopedia of Misinformation is 255 pages of information on the concerning, the weird, and the outright bad things that are all around you.
Relevant, engaging, enlightening, and fun. Featuring illustrations by Lorenzo Petrantoni in a hardcover edition, Rex Sorgatz’s The Encyclopedia of Misinformation isn’t available until next week, but you can pre-order it now here at Amazon.