Book Tour – No Bull Information
Posted by authorcamilson
Title: No Bull Information
Author: Dr. John Gamble
Publisher: Morgan James Publishing
In his new book, NO BULL INFORMATION, Dr. John Gamble challenges readers to confront the Information Age by abandoning simplistic thinking and taking a measured approach that requires asking questions to analyze and understand complicated issues, to identify and avoid word traps, and to effectively dissect and comprehend numbers frequently used to confuse voters and consumers.
Gamble uses humor and a wise cartoon character, Arnbi, to guide the reader through the maze of political doublespeak, expert-celebrity pitches of products, and healthcare options, among other issues.
With a focus on helping Americans to become better prepared to deal with the massive amounts of information that they face on a daily basis, NO BULL INFORMATION (NBI) instructs readers in developing “a new type of literacy.” NBI seeks to create an educated citizenry that can sift through information, identify the facts, and determine the best way to manage those facts. Gamble asserts that the super citizens who accept the challenge of NBI will make better decisions, which will lead to a reduction in financial disasters and government inefficiency.
Gamble’s cartoon sidekick, Arnbi, supports the NBI movement by offering targeted advice that summarizes many of the key principles outlined in NO BULL INFORMATION, including:
- Too bad, but “simple” is a square peg that seldom fits into the round hole that is our modern world.
- Facts are necessary but they must be put into context (PUTFiC).
- Vested interests are everywhere—recognize them.
Breaking down words and numbers is the foundation of NBI. In one section of the book, Gamble walks the reader through a basic lesson in understanding percentages and statistics. “You need to understand numbers enough not to be deceived.” In one intriguing illustration, Gamble compares the Pentagon’s budget of $700 billion to a two-liter bottle and a proposed $20 million in spending to one drop of water from an eyedropper placed in that bottle. “It is a helpful strategy for understanding large numbers that are thrown at us every day by politicians and salespeople.”
Stressing the necessity of analytical thinking, Gamble explores the use of words in “bull-laden” information and the need to guard against what the author calls “landmine words and phrases”; for example, quite frankly, my good friend, clinical studies prove, award winning, and as seen on TV.
Gamble uses guidance survey and focus cards to demonstrate how readers can practice NBI in their daily lives. The cards cover nine areas each (Survey cards: sampling, word warnings, vested interests, etc. Focus cards: infomercials, supermarkets, credit, etc.). The cards include questions that help the reader to analyze a particular situation (buying a new cell phone, for example) and offer guidance for making decisions.
“I have been a college professor for more than thirty years. I am convinced that there are serious problems with the way information is presented and understood,” Gamble says. “This affects all Americans. I am writing for and to them.”
The idea for NO BULL INFORMATION came to Gamble about ten years ago as he observed the difficulty his Penn State undergraduate students were having adjusting to the Information Age. “NBI was inspired by hundreds of students in scores of classes I have taught. It was an iterative process: a class inspired an idea for NBI that I took back to class to test before including it in the book.”
Gamble believes that people who read NO BULL INFORMATION will “gain a sense of empowerment, like a life preserver when we feel we are drowning in a mass of information.”
For More Information
- No Bull Information is available at Amazon.
- Pick up your copy at Barnes & Noble.
Introductions to books are difficult, especially when writing about a topic as broad as information. This is true for me. I have been a college professor for more than 30 years. I am convinced there are serious problems with the way information is presented and understood. This affects all Americans. I am writing for and to them.
At the most basic level, this book is about facts, basic units of information. I explain how facts are the building blocks of information and understanding. “Fact traps” are everywhere, many very subtle. As you’ll see, understanding facts and what to do with them involves far more than recognizing and discarding misinformation. Often that is the easy part. Far more important is understanding facts, where they fit, and what to do with them.
On March 2, 1962, a basketball player scored 100 points in a single game. On the face of it, this seems like quite a big deal. But we must go further and put the fact into context. We need to know this was in the NBA, the premier professional basketball league in the world. The player, Wilt Chamberlain, was one of the greatest players who ever lived. This record has never been matched. It’s only in the context of this additional information that we can truly appreciate what an achievement Chamberlain accomplished in that game.
Americans need to be better equipped to evaluate the massive amounts of information bombarding us. A new type of information literacy must be developed for the Internet age. This is essential to the operation of our democracy and our free market economic system. We need a more astute citizenry, able to make more intelligent judgments if not to leap tall buildings in a single bound. If we don’t achieve this, competition in business will not work properly, election choices will be shortsighted, and our government will not be able to make tough decisions.
Thousands if not millions of people can participate in what I hope will become a mass movement that I call NBI—No-Bull Information. This will reduce the chances of bank bailouts, oil spills, elected officials who ignore scientific proof, and anonymous billionaires who spend obscene amounts of money on election campaigns. My goals might seem unrealistic and naïve. Once you read a bit further, I am confident you’ll see this can work and you can be a part of it. The average American is smarter and more analytic than politicians, credit card companies, supermarkets, Super PACs, and TV shows seem to believe.
About the Author
Dr. John Gamble is Distinguished Professor of Political Science and International Law at Penn State’s Behrend College in Erie and Director of Honors Programs. He is the author of approximately 100 publications and recently won Penn State’s most prestigious award for teaching, the Milton S. Eisenhower Award for Distinguished Teaching.
Dr. Gamble has stuttered all of his life. As a result, he believes words are precious and should not be taken for granted; this motivated him to write NO BULL INFORMATION. His dream for the book is that parents and grandparents will teach their children and grandchildren NBI techniques and demand clear, concise information from political leaders and service and product providers.
For More Information
John, thanks for being my guest here today. Tell our followers about you
I am a college professor—“Distinguished Professor of Political Science and International Law” at a 4,500-student college of Penn State.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
It’s better than the alternative. Seriously, I love my work and am endlessly curious about any number of things.
If you could hang out with one famous person for one day, who would it be and why?
Thomas Jefferson. I’d like to see whether someone as brilliant as Jefferson could even begin to understand the changes occurring in the 190 years since his death. Further, Jefferson stuttered—as do I. I would like to observe how he adapted.
What’s the story behind your latest book?
NBI emerged gradually from teaching thousands of Penn State students many less than 20 years old and taking their first college course. Students have changed in many ways. One troubles me more than others. Today’s student wants things to be simple and brief. This stems from the information age where most communication is quick, brief and simple. Many of the concepts I must teach as a competent professor cannot be make brief and simple. This book is my attempt to help people to deal with this “everything can’t be made simple” aspect of the today’s world.
Tell us your writing process
Weird. I sit down at the computer. My fingers move. About half the time something emerges that, with a lot of work, might be worth using. About 40% of the time, complete crap spews forth and I give up. Then there is that wonderful 10% of the time when the words and ideas flow quite quickly. I have no clue “going in” which of these three worlds I’ll encounter.
When did you realize you wanted to be a writer?
At my core, I am a teacher. This means I try to understand and to explain things to other people. The most important vehicle for understanding and explaining is writing.
Tell us about your main character:
NBI is a non-fiction book so perhaps this does not apply. I did invent a cartoon-like character, Arnbi. Arnbi looks like Aristotle and is used to focus attention on important points made in the book. Wise statements from the mind of Arnbi are called ARNBisms.
What are you working on next?
Of course, my usual academic work aimed more at the academy. I am trying to find ways to get the important message of NBI out to a wide audience.
Do you have any special/extraordinary talents?
Throwing humility aside—I am extremely curious. I think I have a talent for explaining things so my audience gets it.
Who are your favorite authors?
Malcolm Gladwell, David McCullough, David Brooks, Shakespeare, G. B. Shaw
What do you like to do with your free time?
Reading biographies, old German cars.
Tell us about your plans for upcoming books.
I’d like to do different versions of NBI targeted at various audiences.
Any final thoughts?
NBI is not an easy read, at least for some people. But it is a cost effective read. By this I mean, the reader gets a lot of practical, rewarding information for the time invested in reading the book.