Daniel Levitin is a distinguished neuroscientist and expert on cognitive science, and what he’s offering in A Field Guide to Lies: Critical Thinking in the Information Age (Dutton, $28) are some very helpful ways to sift through the growing barrage of information facing us day in and day out. How to tell fact from fiction. How to make sense of statistics. How to think critically about all the words and numbers coming at us nonstop. These are the challenges that Levitin addresses, and he provides some essential tools for navigating daily through the news and getting to the truth of matters. As he reminds us, we all would do well to heed that old maxim (often falsely attributed to Mark Twain): “It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.”
Smith’s memoir starts with him trying to answer the question of how he defines himself as a black man in America. He finds his college years at Hampton University during Obama’s first race to the presidency help him answer this question. These years of his life causes him to evaluate respectability politics, homophobia, sexism, transphobia, and the taboo of mental health in the black community that have caused him to redefine what masculinity means to him. His memoir doesn’t only ask questions of himself, but will also leave the reader asking questions of how they define their identity as well.
This modest book with a super long title packs a massive punch. Mychal Smith doesn't hold back in his assessment of modern America and it's racial interactions. He takes us along as he looks back at how events in his own life formed his views, shows us his heroes, explains his ideas and offers suggestions. You very well may have to grapple with your own perspective, but I guarantee you won't regret having done so.