Detecting Bull: How to Identify Bias and Junk Journalism in Print, Broadcast and on the Wild Web

Detecting Bull

Detecting Bull: How to Identify Bias and Junk Journalism in Print, Broadcast and on the Wild Web by John H. McManus
Createspace, 2012, 312 pages
Reviewed by: Jane Theissen

On a very timely topic, McManus provides a thorough exploration of the state of current journalism in all its formats, including some history to bring us to where we are today. Helpfully, he explains his own bias as a journalist and journalism instructor for many years in the introduction before pointing out the biases common to journalism as we know it. In eleven chapters, he discusses bias in news media from several different angles, and gives readers a tool to use in their own evaluation called the SMELL test. SMELL stands for Source, Motive, Evidence, Logic and Left out. A useful appendix: How to Evaluate the News, rounds out the book.

My favorite is chapter nine, “Detecting Bias in Images”. A picture tells a whole story without using words, and it is important to think about what is behind the presentation of that picture to get the whole story. McManus makes a number of great points here that I had never really thought about – What’s left out of the image? What part of the event was not the focus? Why? Who are the people included? Why were they included and others left out? Who/what is in the foreground? background? Why?

I have recommended this book to my information literacy students and anyone who is interested in staying up-to-date on information evaluation will find this a thought-provoking read.

Fontbonne has it!

Grain brain : the surprising truth about wheat, carbs, and sugar–your brain’s silent killers

Grain Brain

Grain brain : the surprising truth about wheat, carbs, and sugar–your brain’s silent killers by David Perlmutter
Little, Brown, and Company, 2013, 336 pages
Reviewed by: Jane Theissen

An interesting treatise on the evils of carbohydrates in our diet. Perlmutter provides all manner of statistics and anecdotes to demonstrate his thesis that grains, sugars and other carbs are really bad for us, flying in the face of standard medicine and nutrition practice of our day. Sensitivity to grains, he believes, is responsible for everything from ADHD to migraine headaches to diabetes. I must give him credit for his holistic approach. The book includes a four week program to help readers make strides to improve their health. Each week has a different focus – food, sleep, exercise and “pulling it all together”. While his premise is intriguing, it seemed a bit extreme to me. Read it, and decide for yourself!

The Nomad Harp

The Nomad Harp

The Nomad Harp by Laura Mathews
Signet, 1993, 224 pages
Reviewed by: Sharon McCaslin

Philip is wounded in the Navy and before he is fully recovered he discovers that his two cousins have both died, making him Viscount Pontley and cancelling his career as a sea captain. When he tells Glenna, his fiancée, she breaks the engagement because she was planning on exercising her independence while her husband was at sea. Glenna is a harpist and she first moves it to her friend’s home in a vicarage while she tries to comfort Philip’s aunt, who has a very nasty personality and is not at all in need of comfort. Then, when Glenna’s father dies, Philip asks her to renovate one of his estates, even though he has now been pressured into a highly inappropriate engagement with a childlike and poorly behaved relative of his aunt’s. The harp moves back and forth across the English countryside with Glenna’s wavering fortunes, but eventually finds a permanent home. (This is a romance novel after all.)

The Wilder Wedding

The Wilder Wedding

The Wilder Wedding by Lyn Stone
Harlequin, 1998, 298 pages
Reviewed by: Sharon McCaslin

Laura overhears her brother telling a friend about her imminent death from a mysterious disease. She gets a second doctor’s opinion, and, determined to live what remains of her short life to the fullest, she proposes to the only really attractive and interesting man she has met: Sean Wilder, who has just delivered an investigative report to her father. In exchange for marrying her and letting her share his exciting life, she will make him the sole beneficiary of her considerable fortune. But they haven’t planned on the attempts on their lives, which may come from his previous investigations or from her past. And they hadn’t planned on falling in love, either. And what if there is a baby? And what if the doctors were wrong? This Victorian era historical is a lovely story about the dangers of eavesdropping.

A Bewitching Minx

A Bewitching Minx

A Bewitching Minx by Nancy Lawrence
Kindle, 1999, 53 pages
Reviewed by: Sharon McCaslin

When Sebastian helps his visiting small niece search for a stray kitten, he meets the cat’s owner, his new next door neighbor. Each of them had been planning to berate the other for loud noises coming from each other’s bedrooms on either side of their shared walls, disturbing their sleep. Instead, attraction blossoms and the little white cat seems to be the embodiment of an old superstition…

Snowbound Wedding Wishes

Snowbound Wedding Wishes

Snowbound Wedding Wishes by Louis Allen, Lucy Ashford, Joanna Fulford
Mills & Boon, 2013, 352 pages
Reviewed by: Sharon McCaslin

This is a collection of Christmas stories with snowbound relationships. First, Hugo, seeks shelter with an ale-house keeping widow and her two sons, but, as he shovels pathways to connect her with the rest of her community, he discovers a deeper relationship. Second, Theo is investigating the poor stewardship of his newly inherited estate, when Aggie, the daughter of the previous house-keeper, rescues him and surprises him into a relationship he is not expecting. Third, the widowed Lady Hastings has agreed to spend Christmas at Oakhurst, but another guest turns out to be her first love and rejected suitor, now back from India.

The Pretenders

The Pretenders

The Pretenders by Joan Wolf
Grand Central, 1999, 352 pages
Reviewed by: Sharon McCaslin

Reeve needs money quickly to pay his gambling debts and he desperately needs to get control of his inheritance to give him something constructive to work on. He has known Deb since childhood and together they plan to pretend an engagement to con his uncle into thinking he is mature enough have more control of his finances. When they go to meet the rest of the family, Deb meets her half brother, whom she blames for her straightened finances, and the plot thickens as Reeve’s uncle calls their bluff about marriage. Well plotted and great characters – I really liked this one.