Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Let he who has done his own fact-checking cast the first stone

So You've Been Publicly Shamed, by Jon Ronson
Published by Riverhead Hardcover (March 31, 2015)

 I think Ronson's arguments about the actual psychological and social damage of shame are powerful and important. However, several times during reading, i laughed. Out loud. And not at anything that was supposed to be funny.

For example, in a book about shaming, the author attributes the efficacy of those signs on the side of the road that tell you your speed to... feedback loops. He thinks the value is in showing you your speed, not in showing everyone around you. It's a shaming device, at least in part. And that's ignored.

Another one: after chapters and chapters and chapters of Jonah Lehrer observing that if he'd only fact-checked his book, he'd have saved himself a lot of trouble, Ronson gets Godwin's Law wrong. He cites a corollary of it as if it were the law itself. 15 seconds on wikipedia would have been enough to get that one right.

So... valuable insight, oddly shoddy writing and editing. Certainly very readable, and probably worthwhile, but it only escaped being thrown at the wall because i was reading it in a public place with innocent bystanders nearby.

(I received a free Advance Reader's Copy of this book through Amazon Vine.)