Virtual Unreality: Just Because The Internet Told You, How Do You Know It’s True? by Charles Seife ’93 (Viking)
The Author: Charles Seife ’93 is a professor of journalism at New York University and the author of Zero: The Biography of a Dangerous Idea, which won the PEN/Martha Albrand Award.
The Book: The Internet, according to Seife, is making humans better at something they have been doing since the dawn of civilization: lying. The Internet allows people to spread false information more efficiently and less expensively than ever before, rapidly infecting every corner of society with digital fabrications masquerading as reality. Virtual Unreality provides tools to help separate fact from fantasy in the online world. Seife exposes the new methods of manipulation and deception made possible by the digital revolution. He tackles everything from news coverage to online dating, while offering practical tools for discerning the truth online.
Opening Lines: “On October 5, 2001, the world learned what evil can lurk in the heart of a Muppet. He was first spotted in Bangladesh, in Dhaka, at an anti-American rally. He was in the background, almost hidden from view, but there was no question: it was his unmistakable visage…”
Reviews: The New York Times writes, “‘Virtual Unreality’ is a talisman we gullible can wield in the hope that we won’t get fooled again.” Kirkus calls the book “an ingenious overview of a wildly unreliable internet.”