Summary and book reviews of Coercion by Douglas Rushkoff

Coercion

Why We Listen to What 'They' Say

By Douglas Rushkoff

Coercion
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  • Hardcover: Aug 1999,
    321 pages.
    Paperback: Oct 2000,
    304 pages.

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Book Summary

They say that human beings use only ten percent of their brains. They say the corner office is a position of power. They say you haven't met your deductible.

Who, exactly, are "they"? More important, why do we listen to them?

In Coercion Douglas Rushkoff argues that we each have our own "theys"--bosses, experts, and authorities (both real and imaginary) who have taken over much of the decision-making power in our lives. Unfortunately, not everyone to whom we surrender this control has our best interests at heart. What's most troubling is that the more we try to resist their efforts at persuasion, the more effort they in turn put into finding increasingly sophisticated--and invisible--methods of coercion. Indeed, the last fifty years have been marked by a kind of arms race between these authorities and our selves.

Douglas Rushkoff is in a unique position to guide us through these hazardous societal influences. Having for years been the champion of the new media, the Internet, and the liberating forces of interactive technology, he now examines the process through which such innovations are being co-opted by the powers that be. Rushkoff's message is a wake-up call for anyone who has the uncomfortable sense that our actions are being shaped by forces beyond our control.

Introduction
They Say

They say human beings use only ten percent of their brains. They say polyunsaturated fat is better for you than saturated fat. They say that tiny squiggles in a rock prove there once was life on Mars. They say our children's test scores are declining. They say Jesus was a direct descendant of King David. They say you can earn $15,000 a week in your spare time. They say marijuana leads to LSD, and LSD can lead to suicide. They say the corner office is a position of power. They say the elderly should get flu shots this season. They say homosexuality is an environmentally learned trait. They say there's a gene for homosexuality. They say people can be hypnotized to do anything. They say people won't do anything under hypnosis that they wouldn't do when conscious. They say Prozac alleviates depression. They say mutual funds are the best long-term investment. They say computers can predict the weather. They say you haven't met your deductible...

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Reviews

Media Reviews
The Christian Science Monitor

...[L]abored phrasing, combined with the book''s dark theme, makes it a downer to read. But the effort is ultimately worthwhile. Vance Packard told this sad story more artfully 42 years ago in his classic The Hidden Persuaders, which Rushkoff cites. But Packard was writing before the widespread use of computers, before the advent of the online culture. Rushkoff''s update of Packard is a good warning about the coming century''s technological hucksters.

Library Journal

Lively and well researched, this is recommended for public and general libraries.

Kirkus Reviews

Some of what Rushkoff contends may be wildly speculative and overly alarmist, but on the whole he offers a convincing view of the constructed and controlled world in which we live.

Booklist

An essential book for anyone interested in the power of media and the mechanics of deception.

Kirkus Reviews

Some of what Rushkoff contends may be wildly speculative and overly alarmist, but on the whole he offers a convincing view of the constructed and controlled world in which we live.

Booklist

An essential book for anyone interested in the power of media and the mechanics of deception.

Library Journal

Lively and well researched, this is recommended for public and general libraries.

Reader Reviews
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