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.
Dr. 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. Dr. 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.
Dr. 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.
Discuss this book at PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads.
"Facts may be accurate but still paint a distorted picture."
The goal of both the concept of NBI and the book is to open the reader's mind to interpret facts in the proper context to be understood without the distortion, to be presented without misleading the receiver to false conclusions. Our lives, our understanding, are colored by our experiences up to the present point. There is no doubt persons presenting information most often have a motive or agenda. Never hesitate to ask for clarification.
The author does a good job of explaining his point of view, but my eyes still glazed over at the statistics section. He may have ruined skipping stones for me by over analysis.
I was interested in the discourse on the effects of WWII as it relates to our present health care system. He also highlights some unpredicted results of the creation of a National highway system. Anywhere you open this book you can find a topic which will lead to lively discussions.
I particularly appreciated the author's thoughts about the "As Seen On TV" sales craze.
I found the section on Landmine Words and Phrases" interesting and enlightening, the Word Warnings both useful and amusing.
"A final chapter should do more than repeat..."
So you will be rewarded by reading to the end.
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. 1 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. 2 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.
2While the message of this book is serious, I often am not.
Your first indication is this irreverent reference to Superman’s abilities.
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.
Connect with Dr. Gamble on Facebook.
Find out more about Dr. Gamble at Goodreads.