01/09/2009. Contributed by Geoff Willmetts
pub: Boxtree/PanMacmillan. 278 page small enlarged paperback. Price: £10.99 (UK). ISBN: 978-0-7522-2706-1.
check out websites: www.panmacmillan.com and www.museumofhoaxes.com
Hippo eats dwarf? Nope. It's a fake. A hoax. Never happened. An urban myth, propagated by people and no doubt spread world-wide by...er...the Internet. This book looks at the various hoaxes that happen in various places and none of them are April Fools as they happen all the year around. Let's have what author Alex Boese calls a zoomout moment.
Nothing to do with zoos, but words merged of zoom-out. An observation of looking at the bigger picture of what goes on in the world. Reading this book you'd wonder if anyone is honest and tells the truth or everyone is lying all the time.
If anything, I had something of a reality check with this book, especially when it came to the tricks the newspapers and advertisers get up to. It isn't confined to any one part of the world although I would recommend you Americans take a serious look in this book to either gain insight or to become more wary of what you're fed by your media. Some of it is very disturbing.
Alex Boese covers a lot of ground here, including three chapters devoted to Net activity including emails and ebay. There is also a heavy look at political and business shenanigans as well as image misrepresentation which has been in the news a lot recently.
In many respects, one can come away from this book thinking that everyone is being hoaxed at one time or other or maybe it's all the time. After all, this book reveals the hoaxes that have been committed and revealed, not the ones that are still going on. You don't need conspiracy theories as the real stuff is even more insidious.
I don't think any of us want to admit to how gullible we are on some subjects let alone how it gets in the way of making rational thinking when we want to believe in something. If anything, this book successfully shows how easily we can be conned by other people's mind games. The hoaxes in this book are of the home garden variety and if these hit home then think how some of the off-world variety work. I recommend this book for everyone who needs a reality check.
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Stephen Hunt's novels - USA