When we make decisions that are based not on our real knowledge or skill level but on our perceived knowledge or skill level, a dangerous gap is created – a gap we can fall into if we’re not careful.

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In a nutshell

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Misbelief is a book that explores how misinformation can be construed as facts and what makes people spiral down rabbit holes that lead them to believe irrational things. Written by social scientist Dan Ariely who learnt to understand not just the irrational appeal of misinformation but also the behaviour of ‘misbelief’: the psychological and social journey that leads people to mistrust accepted truths, entertain alternative facts, or embrace full-blown conspiracy theories. The book covers not only research but Ariely’s own experience as a target of disinformation.

Book Club Notes

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Misbelief is a timeous and fascinating look at the psychology behind how lies become told (and believed) as facts and how people can so easily fall down a rabbit hole of misbelief. Ariely spent hours talking to the very people who wanted to “burn him at the stake” and those conversations formed the basis of his understanding and the book – something that makes Misbelief all the more eye-opening. We live in a world where Tiktok stars become overnight experts on whatever news story is currently trending and are able to successfully convince others that their fiction is fact. It’s oftentimes hard to understand how people can become so easily convinced – but when you read Misbelief you step into the mind of misbelievers and get a better understanding of how it happens. 

In tandem to reading Misbelief, I was reading Rabbit Hole – which while fictional, was a textbook case of misbelief – like the journey of the main character was pulled from this book. I’ve subsequently read two more fictional books whose main characters fall down a rabbit hole of obsession and misbelief. Then there’s social media, the hub of misbelief. It’s like it’s everywhere, because it is – and if you want to understand yourself and others and how we interact with the information we receive, Misbelief is a book you need to read.

The Anatomy of a Conspiracy Theory 

Ariely breaks down the form conspiracy theories most often take. Broken down like he does, you realise just how many clips you see on social media utilise this to make you believe what the creator wants you to.

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It starts by claiming evidence from a lot of people creating trust.

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Next you are shown a bunch of video clips demonstrating the phenomenon – creating more trust because a video must be true.

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Introduce a reputable expert to create more trust.

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Finally, ask the audience to take part in this noble quest for truth.

Read If

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You want to understand how conspiracy theories grow wings and how so many people can believe mistruths.

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Rating

9
Readability – 10/10
Writing – 10/10
Applicability – 9/10
Timelessness – 8/10
Shareability – 9/10
9.0
9.0Overall Score

The Nitty Gritty

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Misbelief

Published by: Heligo Books, Distributed by Jonathon Ball

Genre:  Non-Fiction, Psychology

ISBN: 978-1-785-12077-0

Pages: 290

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A note on our book ratings

Readability: How easy is it to read and understand what the author is saying? Do you need a dictionary or PhD to understand it?

Writing: How well written is the book? Do you find yourself wowed by the writing or unimpressed?

Applicability: How applicable is this book to daily life? Is there enough advice and actions that are easy to start applying?

Timelessness: Is the content of the book timeless or is it something that in a few years won’t have relevance?

Shareability: How likely are you to share the book?

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