The Half-Life of Facts


The word fact is generally associated with something unchanging, something solid. It’s not the case though. You only have to look at the newspaper headlines in any year to see how things change (medical advice, for one).

Why they change, when they change and when we learn about the change is the focus of this book. The reasons vary, from better measuring techniques to re-examination to new experimentation. It appears their path follows some sort of pattern, or have so far.

We’re already at the point where 50% of the ‘facts’ we’re taught as youngsters will be incorrect in our own lifetimes. The half-life is measured in years, rather than¬†generations.

This is an interesting take on the subject. While others have raised concern about our growing dependence on search engines to answer our questions, the author actually sees this as a benefit, because it means we always get the latest wisdom.

The delivery was a little bland and I found this hard going. At a little over 200 pages it’s hardly long yet still felt like it could have been covered by a long essay rather than a whole book. You could probably get most of the information in a far more succinct format elsewhere.

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Reviewed: 13th December 2015