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Podcast #191: Kevin Young & Bunk—Hoaxes, Hooey, Hocum; Cons, Plagiarists, and Forgers

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Fake news—it just won’t get out of the news. But it’s not exactly new. The traditions of hoaxes and cons, of plagiarists and forgers, have a special legacy in this country.  Kevin Young, the Director of the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture and the Poetry Editor of The New Yorkertraces the history of the hoax as a peculiarly American phenomenon in his most recent nonfiction book,  Bunk: The Rise of Hoaxes, Humbug, Plagiarists, Phonies, Post-Facts, and Fake News . Young demonstrates that the contemporary smorgasbord of deception and fakery that refuses to get out of the headlines is part of a legacy of mendacity that goes back at least as far as the  humbugs of the nineteenth century's great con artist and showman, P. T. Barnum. Stopping along the way to examine the story of Nasdijj the invented Native American, the lying memoirs of Margaret Seltzer, and the identity theft of Rachel Dolezal, Young also makes the compelling case that the greatest and most insidious American hoax of them all is race.

Young was joined in conversation by Garnette Cadogan, a Fellow at the Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture at the University of Virginia, and a Visiting Scholar at MIT’s Department of Urban Studies and Planning and a Visiting Scholar at the Institute for Public Knowledge at New York University.

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