Summary of Who Will Debunk The Debunkers?


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Who Will Debunk The Debunkers? summary
Replacing one set of “facts” with another may not get you closer to the truth.


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People generally assume that oft-repeated “facts” are accurate, so truth-seeking skeptics and scholars play an important role in debunking false stories. But what happens when these myth busters replace one falsehood with another? Who holds them accountable – and are skeptics less likely to accept their own factual fallibility than others? getAbstract recommends this essay to truth-seekers interested in the evolving nature of facts – even, or perhaps especially, those touted by intellectual giants.

In this summary, you will learn

  • Why “fake facts” are alluring
  • Why experts are susceptible to perpetuating them
  • How scholarly experts create “supermyths.”   


Sometimes “fake facts” are repeated so frequently and emphatically that people accept them as true – even when ample evidence exists to the contrary. It is easier to believe the first thing that sounds reasonably accurate than to search deeply for demonstrable facts that support a claim. Take, for instance, the widely believed story that spinach is full of iron. This supposed fact supported by science was disseminated though mainstream US culture in the 1930s using the popular cartoon character Popeye, who committed to eating his spinach to improve his strength. Many consumers followed suit. In the 1930s, Popeye’s evangelism helped increase US consumption of the green vegetable by one-third.

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About the Author

Daniel Engber writes about science and culture for Slate, Wired and other publications

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