Amusing Ourselves to Death Book Summary - Amusing Ourselves to Death Book explained in key points
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Amusing Ourselves to Death summary

Neil Postman

Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business

4.4 (63 ratings)
17 mins

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Amusing Ourselves To Death explores the impact of media on society and how it shapes our understanding of the world.
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    Amusing Ourselves to Death
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    Our ideas about truth have evolved in tandem with the evolution of communication media.

    The American spirit can be hard to pin down. It’s easy to talk about grand ideas – equality, democracy, our inalienable rights – but, at the end of the day, such noble abstractions say little about the lived, everyday experience of Americans.

    A better way to pinpoint the true national mood of the United States is to look at its major cities.

    For instance, in the mid-nineteenth century, America experienced an immigration boom, and the melting pot of New York City came to embody the multiplicity of American identity. In the twentieth century, Chicago was the hub of American commerce, representing both industrial and human progress.

    Today, the American spirit is most manifest in Las Vegas, the city of entertainment.

    Understanding how America got here is a matter of understanding how new mediums of communication give rise to new forms of content.

    Early in humanity’s history, the most crucial communicative medium was, of course, speech – an exclusively verbal form of communication decipherable by solely aural means. Later, with the invention of the alphabet, language took on physical form; the written word froze the flow of human utterances, and transformed language into something that could be studied and analyzed.

    Hence, the invention of writing gave rise to grammarians and logicians, philosophers and physicists, novelists and neuroscientists – all the people who try to think about and make sense of the world.

    Now, as we move from typographical to televised representations of the world, a new shift is taking place. Public discourse is no longer based on words, but on images. And this new medium is simply unable to adequately convey serious, intellectual content.

    This is worrisome, because the dominant medium of communication of a particular era always comes to define our ideas of truth and legitimacy.

    Let’s say you just graduated from a doctoral program at Harvard University. You’d expect Harvard to give you a degree, right? Our culture is still a print-oriented culture, so no one’s going to believe you if you just say you have a PhD from Harvard. You have to produce written proof.

    But as our culture becomes dominated by television, appearances, which are often deceiving, are starting to be taken more seriously than printed truths. Accordingly, our ideas about what is and isn’t true – and thus the structure of public discourse – are shifting as well.

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    What is Amusing Ourselves to Death about?

    Amusing Ourselves to Death (1985) explores the detrimental effects the medium of television is having on the content of public discourse. Over the course of two centuries, the United States has moved from being a culture defined by the printed word to one where television and triviality dominate.

    Amusing Ourselves to Death Review

    Amusing Ourselves To Death (1985) is a thought-provoking examination of the role of media in our lives. Here's why you should read it:

    • It provides a deep analysis of how television and other media influence our thoughts and perceptions.
    • The book offers timeless insights that remain relevant in the age of digital media and social networks.
    • It challenges readers to question their relationship with media and its impact on society.

    Dive into Amusing Ourselves To Death and gain a new perspective on media's role in our lives.

    Best quote from Amusing Ourselves to Death

    Everything became everyones business. For the first time, we were sent information which answered no question we had asked.

    —Neil Postman
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    Who should read Amusing Ourselves to Death?

    • Anyone interested in public debates
    • Newspaper journalists, newspaper readers and TV viewers
    • Media scholars, communication theorists and philosophers

    About the Author

    Neil Postman, a renowned social critic as well as a theorist of education and communication, was a professor at New York University for more than 40 years. He authored more than 20 books, including The End of Education and How to Watch TV News.

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    Amusing Ourselves to Death FAQs 

    What is the main message of Amusing Ourselves To Death?

    Amusing Ourselves To Death discusses the influence of media on society and our perception of reality.

    How long does it take to read Amusing Ourselves To Death?

    Reading Amusing Ourselves To Death typically takes around 5 hours, while the Blinkist summary can be read in just 15 minutes.

    Is Amusing Ourselves To Death a good book? Is it worth reading?

    Amusing Ourselves To Death is a thought-provoking read that provides valuable insights into the impact of media on society.

    Who is the author of Amusing Ourselves To Death?

    The author of Amusing Ourselves To Death is Neil Postman.

    How many chapters are in Amusing Ourselves To Death?

    Amusing Ourselves To Death by Neil Postman has 11 chapters:

    1. The Medium is the Metaphor
    2. Media as Epistemology
    3. Typographic America
    4. The Typographic Mind
    5. The Peek-a-Boo World
    6. The Age of Show Business
    7. Now...This
    8. Shuffle Off to Bethlehem
    9. Reach Out and Elect Someone
    10. Teaching as an Amusing Activity
    11. The Huxleyan Warning

    How many pages are in Amusing Ourselves To Death?

    Amusing Ourselves To Death has 208 pages.

    When was Amusing Ourselves To Death published?

    Amusing Ourselves To Death was published in 1985.

    What to read after Amusing Ourselves to Death?

    If you're wondering what to read next after Amusing Ourselves to Death, here are some recommendations we suggest:
    • Manufacturing Consent by Edward S. Herman and Noam Chomsky
    • The Maniac by Benjamín Labatut
    • Simulacra and Simulation by Jean Baudrillard
    • Gut Check by Steven R. Gundry
    • Emotional Intelligence by Daniel Goleman
    • Merchants of Doubt by Naomi Oreskes & Erik M. Conway
    • Homo Deus by Yuval Noah Harari
    • Electra by Sophocles
    • The 3-Minute Rule by Brant Pinvidic
    • Be Here Now by Ram Dass