THE FACTS MARKETPLACE
The remaining few months of 2016 are shaping up to be riveting —all eyes and ears on Trump-clinton as they make their final appeals to a polarized country. We have been warned that this is the most important election in a generation. Each party leader stresses the certain hell-on-earth consequences should they lose.
And so, seeking to play the dutiful role of an independent-thinking, informed citizen, I spend an hour online every morning with the Times, Journal, and Post—the papers I trust to provide straight news. As a result, I feel somewhat qualified to spot absurd rumors and conspiracies when friends and acquaintances drop them into conversations. Where’d you hear that bullshit? I ask, and very quickly another battle takes place in The Information War. They think me naive and biased. I find them dupes for not fact-checking their news. We each lose a little bit of our soul because we can’t make our case effectively. Facts. Facts are needed for rational dialogue, and it takes some work to find them. News sources on the Internet are like shopping in Beijing at one of those ten-story markets filled with the authentic, the high-quality knockoffs, and the downright fake. Let the buyer beware.
I’m not alone in thinking books are the ultimate method of communicating facts, and the hours I spend reading are tacit acknowledgment of a desire to improve myself. In this chaotic world, books require concentration. I take immeasurable pleasure in honing the inner quiet needed for words to reveal the ideas of a skilled thinker.
And as a reader, I’m secretly proud—hey ma, look at me, I’m reading a book. No matter my age, that smug sense of satisfaction never goes away.
The Cartoon History of Humanism; Latin Inscriptions: Ancient Scripts; Faithonomics: Religion and the Free Market; Restoring Heritage Grains: The Culture, Biodiversity, Resilience, and Cuisine of Ancient Grains—that’s the stuff I’m talking about. In this issue, you’ll find reviews of those four fact-grounded books and a few dozen more. They will help you state your case in any conversation this fall.