Tag Archives: john stossel

Give Me a Break by John Stossel

Give Me a Break by John Stossel: This is a quick read. I enjoyed Stossel’s conversational tone and his no-nonsense way of addressing the issues. And in general I agree that government needs to shrink, lawsuits need to be reduced, and there’s no virtue in being a victim. His anecdotes were a mixture of humorous and maddening, as most stories of government stupidity are. Unfortunately, I don’t see this book as convincing anyone with firmer beliefs than the most tenuous of fence-sitters. As a reporter, Stossel knows how to break down complex issues into bite-sized chunks. Unfortunately, that means his evidence is a collection of soundbites from interviews rather than papers and studies you can go look up yourself. Interviews are a good source of information, but I am always wary of nonfiction books lacking a bibliography or at least a “further reading” section.

Also posted on BookCrossing.

Myths, Lies, and Downright Stupidity by John Stossel

Myths, Lies, and Downright Stupidity by John Stossel: The famous 20/20 anchor takes on a large number of commonly held beliefs and discusses whether or not they are true. I learned quite a bit about a broad range of subjects, and Stossel’s straightforward writing style is immensely readable. However, I have a feeling that if I was a die-hard believer in any of the myths covered here I would have left unconvinced and unimpressed. The trouble with this book is that there are too many topics discussed with not enough depth. Most of the myths are covered in a page or two, with a couple of general statements, maybe some statistics or interviews, and an example to illustrate his point. Unfortunately, the plural of anecdote is not data, and I suspect many people dismiss Stossel’s words out of hand because of it. That’s not to say people should avoid this book on the grounds that it doesn’t dig very deep; some of the myths are covered quite thoroughly and even with the ones that weren’t I still came away with a lot to think about and some stuff I’d like to look into further. I just think Stossel’s message would be more effective if he wrote a book with a narrower focus and a lot more detail.

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