How The News Makes Us Dumb: The Death of Wisdom in an Information Society  -     By: C. John Sommerville
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How The News Makes Us Dumb: The Death of Wisdom in an Information Society

Inter-Varsity Press / 1999 / Paperback

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Product Description

This eye-opening book is for everyone dissatisfied with the state of the news media, but especially for those who think the news actually does inform them about the real world. Read it, and you may never again know the tyranny of reading the daily newspaper or tuning in to the nightly news.

Product Information

Format: Paperback
Number of Pages: 168
Vendor: Inter-Varsity Press
Publication Date: 1999
Dimensions: 8 1/4 X 5 1/2 X 1/2 (inches)
ISBN: 0830822038
ISBN-13: 9780830822034
Availability: Usually ships in 24-48 hours.

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Publisher's Description

We who live at the end of the twentieth century are better informed--and more quickly informed--than any people in history. So why do we also seem more confused, divided and foolish than ever before? Some pundits criticize the news media for political bias. Other analysts worry that up-to-the-minute news reports on radio and television oversimplify complex realities. Still more critics point out that today's reporters can't possibly be experts on the wide variety of subjects they cover. Historian C. John Sommerville thinks the problem with news is more basic. Focusing his critique on the news at its best, he concludes that even at its best it is beyond repair. Sommerville argues that news began to make us dumber when we insisted on having it daily. Now millions of column inches and airtime hours must be filled with information--every day, every hour, every minute. The news, Sommerville says, becomes the driving force for much of our public culture. News schedules turn politics into a perpetual campaign. News packaging influences the timing, content and perception of government initiatives. News frenzies make a superstition out of scientific and medical research. News polls and statistics create opinion as much as they gauge it. Lost in the tidal wave of information is our ability to discern truly significant news--and our ability to recognize and participate in true community. This eye-opening book is for everyone dissatisfied with the state of the news media, but especially for those who think the news really informs them about and connects them with the real world. Read it and you may never again know the tyranny of the daily newspaper or the nightly news broadcast.

Author Bio

Sommerville is professor of English history, Emeritus, at the University of Florida in Gainesville, Florida. His other books include and

Editorial Reviews

"Sommerville's book . . . helps us to put the news in perspective. And if we aren't caught up in all of the media babble, we might discover the beginning of wisdom."
"One of the most winsomely wise pieces we have."

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  1. Donald R. Larter
    5 Stars Out Of 5
    September 15, 2008
    Donald R. Larter
    Sommerville's book was a breath of fresh air for me, whom he described quite accurately in the opening pages of his book as "one of those people who doesn't like the news and doesn't exactly know why . . ." (p.11). Having read his book, I now know why! If you, like me, are disillusioned by the news but cannot exactly put your finger on the reasons why, I recommend heartily Professor Sommerville's short, but incisive book. It would provide an excellent basis for discussion in a small group, and while many of Sommerville's assumptions are Bible-based, they are sufficiently toned down to make the book suitable for seekers. Christians and non-Christians alike, especially news "junkies", are affected adversely by the news's hunger for movement, conflict and crisis, with the attendant helplessness and hopelessness these preoccupations engender in people, often without their even being aware. The suggestions Sommerville offers in his concluding chapter, particular those concerning the importance of local communities and the part we all can play in inhabiting our world and not just observing it (p.146), are well taken. Giving up daily doses of news cold-turkey may not be easy, but for Christians looking to make a positive and constructive contribution to the communities in which they live and work and go to church, the sky is the limit as to what we can do by simply picking up a good book and then discussing it with others. Is your church interested in attracting seekers to a non-threatening discussion group where folks can be re-connected to, and perhaps even re-committed to, the great values, ideals, traditions and, yes, biblical wisdom, that have made our country great? I can think of no better springboard for such discussions than C. John Sommerville's book, which has as its subtitle, "The Death of Wisdom in an Information Society".
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