It's Randy Cassingham's mission in life to get people to think more, and he illustrates WHY that would be a good thing with his laugh-out-loud examples of what happens when people don't. The entertainment part comes first: that's why people will read the stories, Randy says -- and once you get into them, you can't help but to think about some of the issues raised.
"This is True" is one of the first newsletters on the Internet (since early 1994), and it wouldn't still be going strong if it didn't deliver week after week. The stories, each about 100 words, are timeless examples of humanity going spectacularly wrong.
But at the same time, Randy says, "despite this incessant flow of oddness, I increasingly have more hope for humanity as time passes." Why? "I've said before that far from being a cynic, I'm a frustrated optimist, and perhaps that attitude has something to do with it -- the 'optimistic' view means looking for the positive. Readers often say it this way: 'I thought I was dumb, but after I see what people featured in TRUE say and do, I end up feeling pretty good about myself.'"
"We all do dumb things sometimes," he says. "We see ourselves in the stories, and hopefully we're 'not that dumb' and vow to think more, and be stupid less."
Yes, TRUE's primary mission is entertainment, but who are we really laughing at? Randy's answer: "Humanity -- ourselves, and we are better for that. I categorize This is True as Social Commentary. One story doesn't usually create very deep commentary, but over time, you bet clear messages emerge. It gets pretty deep sometimes: it's why my blog entries often end up with dozens of -- and sometimes more than 100 -- comments. Readers who want to can examine, in detail, what it means to be human."
Or, you may just laugh at the stories and move on.
This is the first book in the This is True series, with more than 500 stories and headlines from the publication's first year. Stories like:
A jury in a murder trial deliberated with the help of a seance to ask the victim who had killed him.
A woman had to sue her ex-husband to regain custody ...of her breast implants.
A man legally changed his name to one with 291 letters in it, and THEN went home to tell his wife.
We highly recommend that you click on the cover image above and read a sample -- it's free. We're sure you'll be quickly hooked and want the book to get the rest! (Tip: you can also subscribe to the newsletter at our web site.)
This updated version includes the Introduction from the original paperback edition.
What Is This is True?
This is True is a weekly feature that retells strange-but-true stories from "legitimate, mainstream" news outlets from around the world, each capped with a humorous, ironic, or opinionated comment (and, with luck, some combination of the three). On their own, the stories are pretty entertaining. But when you read the stories over time, certain themes start to emerge, and suddenly you realize there's a bigger picture. A really big picture: a new understanding of humanity begins to emerge. Yes, TRUE is entertaining, but it's also truly thought-provoking. Both the fragility and the power of the individual becomes clearer. And you'll realize that some stories only look amusing -- and you'll realize you're actually angry! But it's anger with a purpose: you'll see you have the power to stand up and demand change. It's why so many readers say they'll subscribe for life.
Each week's column consists of eight or more brief odd stories, each with its own "slug" (title) and "tagline" (comment), plus a Headline of the Week. If you've read this whole page, you're obviously the sort of person who likes to know things, and to think. The This is True books (like this one) compile a year's worth of columns, plus some extra headlines -- more than 500 in all.