Friday, May 19, 2006

John Stossel Gets Out the Shovel Again in his New Book

In reporter John Stossel's newest book, Myths, lies, and downright stupidity - why everything you know is wrong, the 20/20 correspondent continues his crusade to debunk various consumer, political, health and other news stories. On his website there are links to some of his reports that are also featured in the book. For example in his piece, Is Bottled Water Better than Tap? he discusses studies that show that bottled water is not safer than tap water. Blind taste tests also show that people generally cannot tell one brand of bottled water from another, or even from tap water. He also points out that bottled water is very expensive. This is one of his better pieces and it is fairly well documented.
Many of his pieces seem to fall into the same hyperbolic and hysterical style as the people whose views he is out to disprove, in my opinion. It would have been better if the book had covered fewer issues more fully: give more facts, figures, statistics and interviews with experts. Again, in that sense, he seems as guilty of simplistic thinking as the mythmakers he calls stupid.
For further exploration into the world of professional skeptics, try the website of the magazine Skeptic or the Skeptic's Dictionary website. But remember, we have to be skeptical about skeptics too. Here again, a plug for librarians and library research. Libraries strive to provide accurate information and have no ax to grind or profit motive to turn them from that path. Try the Librarians Index to the Internet to guide you to Websites You Can Trust.

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