New publications written by Goodenough College Alumni

Two new publications by Goodenough Alumni are now available. The authors of both will be doing live book talks for Alumni later this year - look out for more information and dates for your diary.

Lie Machines: How to Save Democracy from Troll Armies, Deceitful Robots, Junk News Operations, and Political Operatives by Philip N Howard (Yale University Press, 2020) 

We live in a world of technologies that misdirect our attention, poison our political conversations, and jeopardise our democracies. With massive amounts of social media and public polling data, and in-depth interviews with political consultants, bot writers, and journalists, Philip N. Howard offers ways to take these “lie machines” apart.

As Director of the Oxford Internet Institute, in 2017 Howard was asked by the Senate Intelligence Committee to conduct a postmortem on the social media activities of the Russian Internet Research Agency. A seemingly modest operation run out of a nondescript St. Petersburg office with between 40 and 100 employees and a $10 million budget, the IRA gave President Vladimir Putin a large return on a small investment.

Howard and his team showed how the IRA targeted Americans at the poles of the political spectrum, exacerbating their divisions, and flooded swing districts with misleading or inflammatory advertisements. Tens of millions of American users viewed IRA ads.

Lie Machines is full of behind-the-scenes stories from the world’s biggest and most damagingly successful misinformation initiatives — including those used in Brexit. Howard not only shows how these campaigns evolved from older propaganda operations but also exposes their new powers, provides insight into their effectiveness, and explains how to shut them down.

See a detailed review of the book on the Washington Post website.

Lie Machines is available from Yale University Press.



Pretty Ugly: Why we like some songs, faces, foods, plays, pictures, poems, etc., and dislike others by Charles and Daphne Maurer (Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2019)

In asking why do we find some things attractive and others not, the Maurers take the reader on a vast intellectual journey.

How do we develop a sense of beauty? Why and how did this evolve? How is beauty formed? Charles and Daphne answer these questions by interweaving experimental sciences with the histories of art, architecture, music, dance, speech, literature, and food.

As the authors explain in the introduction: “we did not write this book specifically for scientists. We also wrote it for artists, musicians, architects, cooks, writers, readers—anyone who enjoys any of the arts.”

As might be expected with such a multi-disciplinary work, Pretty Ugly had a lengthy gestation period.  Charles and Daphne spent the autumn of 1987 at Willy G, beginning to research the book, which was published last winter, with a paperback edition issued in spring.

More information and sample chapters are available online, along with a talk on the book.

Pretty Ugly is available from Cambridge Scholars Publishing.

Pretty Ugly book cover

The authors of both books will be doing a live book talk later this year, more information and the dates for your diary to follow soon.

Calling Authors! If you have recently published a book, please do get in touch so we can include it in the next issue of The Goods e-newsletter. We would also be delighted to discuss hosting a book talk.