Myths, Lies, and Downright Stupidity: Get Out the Shovel — Why Everything You Know is Wrong is both fun and informative. It is bound to evoke a wide range of emotions in most readers: anger, shock, disbelief, relief, incredulity, laughter, surprise, and finally gratitude that we have honest reporters such as John Stossel and the real experts upon which he relies to help us separate the truth from both the simple falsehoods in which we commonly believe and the often malicious lies and scams to which we are all too often exposed.
As a long-time resident of the greater NYC Metropolitan area, I have been familiar with the Stossel's work since his appearances on WCBS-TV as an in-your-face consumer reporter early in his career. I took notice when he moved to network TV after being hired by Roone Arledge, and continued to enjoy his reporting even as I sometimes disagreed with some of his premises.
I watched his TV specials which often questioned liberal orthodoxy with such catchy titles as "Are We Scaring Ourselves to Death?" I regularly found these to be both informative and provocative and was very pleased when he became the co-anchor of 20/20. I met when we both attended a conference several years ago, and since then I have seen him once or twice a year at other events that we have both attended and regard him as a casual friend. We share a common philosophical outlook about the benefits of free market competition rather than government regulation, and generally agree on many topics. This book is no exception; there are a few areas where I disagree with his interpretation and commentary, but none where I fault his facts.
A disclaimer: Because I believe in the educational value of Stossel's work (and its potential to be a catalyst for classroom discussion of the topics involved) I have provided modest financial support to intheclassroom.org, the organization that provides copies of Stossel's programs and classroom guides to high school teachers interested in the material.
As Stossel explains in his introduction, his investigative team consistently gets out their shovels and digs through a lot of nonsense and deception to discover the truth. And most surprisingly, every once in a while as they are looking for the pony in the pile of manure, they discover one! Occasionally a popular belief concerning a controversial topic that has attained mythic proportions actually turns out to be true.