Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Debunk It! by John Grant

"It's the end of the world as we know it, and I feel fine," or so says the R.E.M. tune (1987).

The cool, quirky cover disguises a dry, dull
load of boring. So don't judge by what you see.
In his book Debunk It! How to Stay Sane in a World of Misinformation, author John Grant tackles popular myth and misconception on everything from Evolution to alternative medicine, from climate change to apocalypse predictions, and more. In exceptionally long-winded expositions, filled with puff and fluff and fancy words, Grant explains the full and complete "truth" behind these myths: Where they came from, why they came about, how they became twisted, and whether we really have anything to worry about. For such widespread misinformation, he points fingers at popular media, social networks, celebrities, and second-and-third (and beyond) hand gossip, indirectly implying anyone who puts any stock in information from such sources is an idiot...and then sets himself above it all. Rather pompously, I thought. In his explanations, Grant sprinkles in opinions from both sides, and then throws in his two cents (for what they're worth). 

I picked the book up because, as a fan of the TV show Mythbusters, I thought it sounded interesting. And, ok, the cover looked quirky and fun. And I love quirky and fun. I was very, very disappointed! 

Despite its thin appearance (a paperback of less than 300 pages), Debunk It is deceptively heavy. In weight as well as content. Its pages are packed with small-type text, are devoid of pictures and color, and, as previously stated, are filled with dry, long-winded manifestos about what the author believes is true and what he thinks is full of total B.S. (or not). Half the time it reads like the rantings of a lunatic and the other half like a textbook...and a very dry, dull textbook at that.

And that leads me to wonder: Who the heck is this John Grant guy anyway? He has no titles attached to his name, and nowhere in the book is there an "about the author" section. Nothing at all to tell the reader why this guy should be an authority on any of these subjects. Why should I, the reader, put any stock in anything he says. He could be just another Average Joe who decided to whip up a book in his spare time between updating his Facebook status and cooking dinner. Who's to say he's not trying to mislead readers with his book? I'm just saying...

Overall, Debunk It is a snooze-fest! No teen I know is going to read this thing cover to cover much less give it 5 minutes of their time. I could barely get through the parts I read.

My Conclusion: SKIP IT!

I'd much rather spend my time watching Jamie Hyneman and Adam Savage blow stuff up in the name of science. And you probably would too! --AJB

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