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Publisher's Summary

Arming Americans to defend the truth from today’s war on facts.

Disinformation. Trolling. Conspiracies. Social media pile-ons. Campus intolerance. On the surface, these recent additions to our daily vocabulary appear to have little in common. But together, they are driving an epistemic crisis: a multifront challenge to America’s ability to distinguish fact from fiction and elevate truth above falsehood.

In 2016, Russian trolls and bots nearly drowned the truth in a flood of fake news and conspiracy theories, and Donald Trump and his troll armies continued to do the same. Social media companies struggled to keep up with a flood of falsehoods and too often didn’t even seem to try. Experts and some public officials began wondering if society was losing its grip on truth itself. Meanwhile, another new phenomenon appeared: “cancel culture”. At the push of a button, those armed with a cellphone could gang up by the thousands on anyone who ran afoul of their sanctimony.

In this pathbreaking book, Jonathan Rauch reaches back to the parallel 18th-century developments of liberal democracy and science to explain what he calls the “Constitution of Knowledge” - our social system for turning disagreement into truth.

By explicating the Constitution of Knowledge and probing the war on reality, Rauch arms defenders of truth with a clearer understanding of what they must protect, why they must do - and how they can do it. His book is a sweeping and listenable description of how every American can help defend objective truth and free inquiry from threats as far away as Russia and as close as the cellphone.

©2021 Jonathan Rauch (P)2021 Blackstone Publishing

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A really good book

Rauch’s analogy between the constitutional design from James Madison & the way in which our reality-based institutions (science, journalism, law, etc.) are supposed to operate is brilliant. His argument for ensuring that these institutions operate the way they were designed (based on pluralism, a commitment to truth with rules and accountability) is much needed. This book helped clarify my thinking so much on this topic, where it really can be disorienting to know what to believe given how much information is out there.

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Great content ... narrator is absolutely horrible

I will be reading this book, as the content is excellent and timely. The author has a clear understanding of human behavior and its outcomes. I will be returning the audiobook. The narrator is like a voice-over for a black and white sex education film shown in a middle school class.

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Very well thought out

Good for all to hear. He presents a dichotomy between cancel culture and troll epistemology. I’m not convinced these are symmetrical problems but a very convincing argument.

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Enlightenment Defense

Challenging without some philosophical background but well worth the effort. A timely book for our current discomfort.

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Fantastic. Please read this book

i enjoyed this book a great deal. i think many people would benefit from reading or listening to it

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Timely and well written

Rauch does a great job of describing what he calls "the reality based community" and how the woke left and Trumpist right fail to live up to the standards of that community. There is a good deal of background on liberty and. the philosophy of this community as well. While not as groundbreaking as Kindly Inquisitors, this is still an excellent book

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I have been seeking this book

I have been seeking clarity on the values which were most important to our countries founders. The author, Jonathan Rauch, covers this ground well and brings out how truth, as determined by universal experiences, is critical to the survival of our form of Republic. Epistemological skepticism is an important tool but only if universal truths are the final resting point for any such discussion.

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Brilliant argument

In this book, Rauch defines and describes a constitution of knowledge that is just as critical to freedom and thriving in a democracy as the constitution for government. His insights span both contemporary problems and historical threats to the constitution of knowledge. For those all across the ideological perspective and even those who don’t feel ideological but just want to further truth through a pursuit of objectivity, this book should be required reading.

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  • DixieChick
  • 07-01-21

Excellent on every level

Brilliant, thoughtful, energising and ultimately, uplifting. Highly recommended for anyone who cares about the rise of, and acceptance of, political lies and new culture wars in the present political era.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 06-27-21

The case for truth

Jonathan Rauch is committed to epistemology (the study of knowledge). In his landmark 1993 book ‘Kindly Inquisitors’ Rauch treated the attacks on freedom of expression in academia. ‘The Constitution of Knowledge’ is the long-awaited sequel and true to form, Rauch does not disappoint. Published only last week, in an entertaining and enlightening ‘fact-filled’ book, Rauch uses the Madisonian constitutional design to explain how knowledge is ‘agreed upon’ by members of the ‘reality-based community’ checking and vetting ideas in the ‘marketplace of persuasion’. As Rauch explains, the constitution of knowledge relies upon participants abiding by two rules; the Fallibilist rule (the ethos we may be wrong) and the Empiricist rule (the commitment to objectivity, interchangeability, and accountability). Sounds dry but Rauch makes this book work by sharing countless examples and case studies of how disinformation is used by authoritarian leaders to undermine the Constitution of Knowledge. One of the best chapters in the book is concerned with digital media and how well-designed policy architecture can assist citizens and societies identify that which is information from knowledge (not dissimilar to how inspectors can distinguish between information and evidence). I’m calling it early, but this is the best book of 2021.