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Reality Lost: Markets of Attention, Misinformation and Manipulation

BOOK REVIEW: Politics and media are daily flooded with distortions, concealments, omissions and distortions of the truth. We are invaded by populist narratives, "alternative facts" and "fake news". It is now a fact that misinformation is something you have to actively deal with not only as a politician or as a journalist but also as a normal citizen. But how?


Politics and media are daily flooded with distortions, concealments, omissions and distortions of the truth. We are invaded by populist narratives, "alternative facts" and "fake news". It is now a fact that misinformation is something you have to actively deal with not only as a politician or as a journalist but also as a normal citizen. But how?


In the information age, attention is a precious resource. Attention and traffic are money, power and political influence, even if it is at the expense of truth, facts and the all-too-real challenges we face.


To obtain exposure and generate more clicks, media and journalists have to attract people’s attention and to do so, they tend to contribute to spreading misinformation, distorted stories and sensationalism.


In Reality Lost, the two philosophers, Vincent Hendricks and Mads Vestergaard provide a coherent picture of how the attention economy can end up in post-factual democracy: fairy tales replace facts as the basis for political opinion formation, debate and legislation. A monster that few people want, but which has shown its face lately and which is being fed by politicians, journalists and citizens. The first step to stop feeding the monster and stem that development is to understand what is causing it. This book tries to contribute to that.


The media is flooded with distortions and concealments. We have to deal with so-called alternative facts. Vincent F. Hendricks and Mads Vestergaard tell in an easy-to-understand way how the attention economy of politicians, journalists and citizens can lead to a post-factual democracy, in which fairy tales replace facts as a basis for political debate and legislation. The first step in curbing that development is to understand what is causing it.


After analyzing how the attention economy (namely, the approach that considers attention as a valuable resource) and the market for news work, the authors discuss political bubbles and the quality of information. Next, the book focuses on social and psychological mechanisms that make people resistant to facts making misinformation effectual. Finally, it concludes by pointing out why worth combating this trend towards post-factual democracy.


The book is also available in Danish.

Bogen fås også på dansk


Fake news: Når virkeligheden taber.



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