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A lie of omission—withholding needed information to correct a false belief.
There is a sharp and more hostile divide emerging in the United States. The shift is documented by various polls, and the speed of the change is alarming. There are certainly contributing factors, but one factor is unique to the contemporary era: receiving the majority of our information via social media experiences. Media algorithms, and to some extent overt censorship, serve users curated content that is unlike what their neighbors receive.
Lies of Omission brings together various perspectives on the causes and effects of the divided information streams. Psychology and neuroscience, combined with some historical jurisprudence, are woven together to spell out the dangers of the modern social media experience. Importantly, the human response can be understood as rooted in our psychology and neurochemistry.
In part two of the book, eight hot button issues that have provoked deep divisions among American citizens are presented as well-researched, opposing-view chapters with a goal to lay bare the extent of the disinformation gap that we are living in. With the rise of ephemeral smart media, and the associated displacement of the permanently printed word, it is rare to have a clear idea of what persons who do not share our opinions actually believe, or why.
The decimation of communal information sources is nearly complete. What can one do? One concrete step is to turn some of your attention away from curated, impermanent news and read a book. Read this book. Dr. Catherine DeSoto spells out why it is worth our time to be informed regarding the issues we care about: something your phone’s curated media will never do for you. Open your mind to the quaint idea that one is not informed unless one understands the opposing view.
Surprising all-new research regarding the political divide and the pandemic is included. Together with over 150 references, this book will be the definitive source documenting the effects of the media algorithm revolution.
About the Author
Catherine DeSoto, PhD, is a professor, psychologist, and award-winning teacher and scholar, as well as the mother of four. Dr. DeSoto’s expertise encompasses social psychology, gender differences, and neuroscience, particularly relating to neuroendocrine effects on behavior. She has published over forty scholarly articles on topics ranging from sex differences to health and immunity, which have collectively been cited over 2,000 times. She has run a homeless shelter, served as union president, and has a long history of political and social activism.
“Dr. DeSoto has provided a clear-headed, engaging, and much needed discussion and analysis of the current political and ideological divides and the factors that worsen them. The mixture of psychological and biological biases with social-media-driven distortions creates the perfect storm that exacerbates divisions, and in doing so undermines social cohesion. Dr. DeSoto explores how this toxic mix is affecting us in the context of today’s hot-button issues. This important book is a must read.” — David C. Geary, author of Children's Mathematical Development and contributor to the 1999 Mathematics Framework for California Public Schools; Curators' Distinguished Professor, Department of Psychological Sciences and Interdisciplinary Neuroscience, University of Missouri
"The freedom of speech is founded on the notion that in the marketplace of ideas, the truth will eventually prevail. But in the world of digital media platforms like Google, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, TikTok, and Instagram, we may never find the truth, as cleverly devised algorithms narrow what we see and hear, and reward our blindered journey with persistent positive reinforcement. Psychology scholar Catherine DeSoto draws upon social psychology and our neural circuitry to explain how we are being increasingly polarized by our media feeds." —Christopher R. Martin, professor of digital media, University of Northern Iowa, and author of No Longer Newsworthy: How the Mainstream Media Abandoned the Working Class
“In Lies of Omission, Catherine DeSoto has written something as timely as it is important. As Professor DeSoto explains in detail, and with examples covering a number of critical and polarizing issues of the day, our very democracy is in jeopardy from a prevailing culture of intolerance and lack of curiosity for opposing views. But this culture, DeSoto explains, has not arisen out of nowhere. It has been created, and cultivated on a daily basis, by news outlets and social media companies that increase sales and views, and therefore, profits by providing information—many times with missing pieces and context—which affirms our own biases and encourages anger and even hatred for others who do not share these biases. What is lost in the process is truth and honest inquiry and debate, which are the very bedrock of any functioning democracy. We are left with a society torn asunder by tribal-like divisions that prevent us from grappling with and solving the very important issues of our day—some of these issues being literally life and death. This book will make you question what is true and factual in the world, and whether you have a viable path for discerning such things. But this is good. Like Plato sitting in the cave and wondering about how much the shadows on the walls accurately represent reality, we too must ask such important philosophical questions in a world where the shadows, through advanced technology and intentional manipulation, are becoming ever larger and leading us farther and farther away from truths that we must discover to save our very world.” —Dan Kovalik, labor and human rights lawyer, and author of Cancel This Book and No More War