Friday, August 5, 2022

Book Review: The Constitution of Knowledge: A Defense of Truth

The Constitution of Knowledge: A Defense of TruthThe Constitution of Knowledge: A Defense of Truth by Jonathan Rauch
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book made an impression on me. Rauch starts by describing the problems. He points out the importance of institutions and gatekeepers -- while far from perfect they did set up rules, guidelines and standards for publishing news. I also liked his explanation of why the internet and social media, as currently configured, is perfectly set up to spread misinformation as opposed to fact-checked news. Social media is all about what's popular, what can go viral. The more shocking, the more emotional posts get spread. Fact-based reality is boring by comparison and doesn't generate near the click and likes.

Rauch spends a chapter each on trolls (those who make up and distribute misinformation) and cancelers (those who limit free speech). I had some inkling of cancel culture, mostly through the lens of publishing and screenwriting, but I learned it's far worse in academia.

My only criticism concerns the final chapter. The final chapter is about how to fight back, and Rauch spends 95% of the chapter discussing how to resist cancel culture and not near enough time about combatting the scourge of trolls.

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