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Book Review: Virtual Unreality

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Virtual Unreality



Credit: Viking

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Virtual Unreality: Just Because the Internet Told You, How Do You Know It's True?
by Charles Seife
Viking, 2014

Modern technology, especially the World Wide Web, has profoundly altered how people find and interpret information, journalist Seife argues, and even how we interact with the world around us. “We now live in a world where the real and the virtual can no longer be disentangled,” he writes, illustrating his case with stories of Web hoaxes and viral falsehoods that have fooled experts, journalists and the public alike.

In 2011, for example, the New York Times, the Guardian, CNN and many other media outlets reported that Syrian-American blogger Amina Arraf had been abducted in Damascus. Shortly thereafter, however, it became clear that Arraf was a fabrication by a man in Scotland, who had created her story and blog remotely. Through such anecdotes, Seife demonstrates how easy it is for fallacies to become accepted truths online. But rather than writing a Luddite screed, he aims to “act as a guide for the skeptic, a handbook for those who wish to understand how digital information is affecting us.”

This article was originally published with the title "Recommended: Virtual Unreality."

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