Book Review: Your Best Defense Against Fake News
"Truth Facts: The Truthiest Truths and Factiest Facts of Everyday Life" by Mikael Wulff & Anders Morgenthaler
Thursday, January 26, 2017 3:12 PM
In an era when fake news is peeling attention away from evidence-based facts, this wittily illustrated book couldn’t have come at a better time. What Mikael Wulff and Anders Morgenthaler accomplish is nothing short of brilliant, thanks to its simplicity: In their “Truth Facts,” each page illustrates a funny revelation on the everyday quirks we experience in tech, shopping, relationships, food and entertainment.
David Silverberg is a freelance journalist who writes for BBC News, BuzzFeed, Vice and Quill & Quire. © 2017 Washington Post Book World Service/Washington Post Writers Group
The book compiles illustrative nuggets from a blog of the same name, which became a side project for this Danish duo who also produce the global hit comic WUMO, printed in more than 300 newspapers in the United States. “Truth Facts” strays heavily from WUMO, though, in its stylistic treatment: You won’t see any human faces in these pages, just Venn diagrams, tables, flow charts, graphs and maps.
For example, in a pie chart titled “What Helicopters Do in Movies,” the pie is taken up entirely by one option: “Explode.” A graph headlined “Activities After Having Children” indicates that the top activity is “Posting cute pictures on Facebook.”
Some targets are easy for Wulff and Morgenthaler to assail, such as social-media addiction, but other subjects in their crosshairs are more offbeat, such as how bananas always turn brown right when you want to eat them.
Their best work is dissecting common objects we take for granted and analyzing why so many products are so poorly designed. Why do ear buds morph into a tangled mess the minute after purchase? Why does the iron sport such an impossibly small hole for refilling it with water?
“Truth Facts” also points a finger at us and lets us laugh at how silly we can be, whether in relationships with people or with gadgets. Do we Instagram every vacation vista instead of simply reveling in its beauty? Of course we do. And we imagine we’re contributing to a better world by “liking” a charity’s Facebook page.
“Truth Facts” may not be marketed as a self-help guide, but in its own snarky way it suggests how to be better, how to recognize our folly and do something real. As Moliere wrote, “The duty of comedy is to correct men by amusing them.”