Lee McIntyre

Jan 27, 2024

On Disinformation

How to Fight for Truth and Protect Democracy

MIT Press 2023

The effort to destroy facts and make America ungovernable didn't come out of nowhere. It is the culmination of seventy years of strategic denialism. In On Disinformation: How to Fight for Truth and Protect Democracy (MIT Press, 2023), Lee McIntyre shows how the war on facts began, and how ordinary citizens can fight back against the scourge of disinformation that is now threatening the very fabric of our society. Drawing on his twenty years of experience as a scholar of science denial, McIntyre explains how autocrats wield disinformation to manipulate a populace and deny obvious realities, why the best way to combat disinformation is to disrupt its spread, and most importantly, how we can win the war on truth.

McIntyre takes readers through the history of strategic denialism to show how we arrived at this precarious political moment and identifies the creators, amplifiers, and believers of disinformation. Along the way, he also demonstrates how today's "reality denial" follows the same flawed blueprint of the "five steps of science denial" used by climate deniers and anti-vaxxers; shows how Trump has emulated disinformation tactics created by Russian and Soviet intelligence dating back to the 1920s; provides interviews with leading experts on information warfare, counterterrorism, and political extremism; and spells out the need for algorithmic transparency from Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. On Disinformation lays out ten everyday practical steps that we can take as ordinary citizens--from resisting polarization to pressuring our Congresspeople to regulate social media--as well as the important steps our government (if we elect the right leaders) must take.

Compact, easy-to-read (and then pass on to a friend), and never more urgent, On Disinformation does nothing less than empower us with the tools and knowledge needed to save our republic from autocracy before it is too late.

Emanuel Stoakes is a freelance journalist and researcher. Bylines in a range of international outlets including The NY Times, The Washington Post, NBC digital, The Guardian, The Independent etc. Spinoff and Newsroom in Aotearoa New Zealand. TV production work with Al Jazeera, VICE, ABC Australia, ARD (Germany), ARTE and others.

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Emanuel Stoakes

Emanuel Stoakes is a freelance journalist and researcher. Bylines in a range of international outlets including The NY Times, The Washington Post, NBC digital, The Guardian, The Independent etc. Spinoff and Newsroom in Aotearoa New Zealand. TV production work with Al Jazeera, VICE, ABC Australia, ARD (Germany), ARTE and others.

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