cover image What the Fact?

What the Fact?

Seema Yasmin. Simon & Schuster, $19.99 (368p) ISBN 978-1-66590-003-4

Journalist Yasmin (If God Is a Virus, for adults) effectively explores contemporary media literacy’s barriers and how to overcome them in this eye-opening work told via contagion and vaccine metaphor. “Information spreads from one person to another, just like a virus,” the author writes in an introductory essay. What follows is a “navigation guide for the treacherous terrains of Bias, the craggy mountains of Groupthink, and the slippery ravines of Disinformation,” containing allegorical boosters needed to prevent disinformation infection. A chapter titled “Bias, Beliefs, and Why We Fall for BS” explains how brains process media and why they cling to biases; another, “News, Noise, and Nonsense,” uses Iraq War coverage to demonstrate how purportedly unbiased news outlets can influence a person’s perception of events depending on where—and when—information is dispensed. Insightful sidebars detailing how ideas are spread, along with photos and social media screenshots illustrating the dangers of groupthink, accompany approachable prose. In a time when “social media holds the power to radicalize people” or even cause death, as in the case of widespread misinformative Covid remedies, Yasmin encourages readers to “BS-proof our brain” in this conversation-starting handbook. Ages 12–up. Agent: Lilly Ghahremani, Full Circle Literary. (Sept.)