Vincent F. Hendricks: Professor, Director | Center for Information and Bubble Studies | University of Copenhagen

REALITY LOST | Springer Nature | Open Access | 2019 | DOWNLOAD NOW!

Markets of Attention, Misinformation and Manipulation

Vincent F. Hendricks
Mads Vestergaard

ISBN 978-3-030-00813-0 / @RealityLost2018

 September 11.2018: New York: Springer Nature

Available for free in Open Access – FREE DOWNLOAD NOW

Official Launch @ United Nations, Sixth Statistical Commission for Africa (StatCom-Africa-VI), Adis Ababa, Ethiopia, 03.10.2019

STAY CURIOUS: Misinformation, “fake news”, and attention economy are the keywords of Vincent Hendricks’ research. As social media are not regulated, they are largely a free market. When it is possible to be on social media for free, it is because you pay with your attention and your data. You, yourself, are the product to be sold.

STAY CURIOUS: We are bombarded with information. Listen, when professor and leader of Center for Information and Bubble Studies, Vincent Hendricks, talks about “opinion bubbles” and just how valuable your attention is.

STAY CURIOUS: “What is your work and why is it important?”, Vincent Hendrick’s son asked him ten years ago. This became the starting point for collecting and using his knowledge to the benefit of all of us. In a field between the humanities and technology, Vincent Hendricks does his research to understand the mechanisms behind misinformation.

The media is being flooded by populist narratives, fake news, conspiracy theories and make-believe. Misinformation is turning into a challenge for all of us, whether politicians, journalists, or citizens. In the age of information, attention is a prime asset and may be converted into money, power, and influence – sometimes at the cost of facts. The point is to obtain exposure on the air and in print media, and to generate traffic on social media platforms. With information in abundance and attention scarce, the competition is ever fiercer with truth all too often becoming the first victim.

December 2018

REALITY LOST: Markets of Attention, Misinformation and Manipulation is an analysis by philosophers Vincent F. Hendricks and Mads Vestergaard of the nuts and bolts of the information market, the attention economy and media eco-system which may pave way to postfactual democracy. Here misleading narratives become the basis for political opinion formation, debate, and legislation. To curb this development and the threat it poses to democratic deliberation, political self-determination and freedom, it is of necessary that we first grasp the mechanisms and structural conditions that causes it.

Marseille, September 2018

Vincent Fella Hendricks, chercheur à l’université de Copenhague et coauteur du livre Reality Lost, va dans le même sens. Selon lui, sur Twitter, « l’attention des utilisateurs repose sur des critères qui ne sont pas liés à la rationalité, mais à l’émotion. Les contenus qui ont le plus de succès font appel à la peur, à la colère, à l’indignation. C’est un marché de l’information dans lequel certains contenus sont assimilables à des subprimes », des produits attractifs mais toxiques pour l’environnement, détaille-t-il. Cela ne changera que « si Twitter comme Facebook reconnaissent qu’ils sont des éditeurs d’information, et mettent en place de véritables politiques éditoriales qu’ils appliquent avec constance ».

– Le Monde, 01.09.2018

Vincent F. Hendricks’ Speech at the
Annual Commemoration Ceremony at the University of Copenhagen 2017
“Attention Economics and Fake News”


Knowledge is power. To know the nuts and bolts of the world is vital in changing it to the better — or to prevent it from getting worse. Knowledge may emancipate. Misinformation and manipulation impair self-determination and autonomy — individually and collectively. Without sound information as bedrock for formation of political opinion, decision-making and action, individual agency and political sovereignty of the people are crippled. To know how and why misinformation works, being informed of the structural conditions fueling its circulation shapes resilience against manipulation. Technology does not determine history. Humans do. It is up to us to prevent The Digital Age turning into disruption of democracy and freedom.

Reality Lost: Markets of Attention, Misinformation and Manipulation, is open access and free to download.

Press and Presentations

Berlin, June, 2018

Table of Contents



Chapter 1. The Attention Economy

Chapter 2. The News Market

Chapter 3. Attention Speculation and Political Bubbles

Chapter 4. Alternative Facts, Misinformation, and Fake News

Chapter 5. Fact Resistance, Populism, and Conspiracy Theory

Chapter 6. The Post-Factual Democracy

Epilogue. Digitial Roads to Totalitarianism


Reality Lost is the English version of the German Postfaktisch and Danish Fake News

About the Authors

Vincent F. Hendricks (b. 1970) is Professor of Formal Philosophy at The University of Copenhagen. He is Director of the Center for Information and Bubble Studies (CIBS) sponsored by the Carlsberg Foundation and has been was awarded a number of prizes for his research among them The Elite Research Prize by the Danish Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation, The Roskilde Festival Elite Research Prize, Choice Magazine Outstanding Academic Title Award and The Rosenkjær Prize. He was Editor-in-Chief of Synthese: An International Journal for Epistemology, Methodology and Philosophy of Science between 2005-2015.

Mads Vestergaard (b. 1979) is PhD Fellow at Center for Information and Bubble Studies (CIBS), University of Copenhagen. He holds a M.A. in philosophy, and debates and communicates philosophy and social science in written press, radio and television. He has also applied philosophy in more untraditional contexts as art projects and satire.

Straydogs, no street lights
After dinner at the Intercontinental Hotel in Adis Ababa, I walked the downtown streets,
Only two hours after the UN-meeting addressing what the third world really needs,
See, it’s them vs us: I ordered spaghetti-meatballs, it was about what the avocado salesman or pro make in week,
The ones who have no pot to piss in, nor a window to throw it out of, versus the 1% at the peak,
We discussed all day long what to do about inequality with respect to monetary wealth and who controls information,
What to do about inflation, legislation, migration, financial castration and self-determination,
Only to realize that for “them” the frame of reference is stray dogs and no street lights,
Who really cares when you are us: It is not our reality which bites?

Vincent F. Hendricks, Adis Ababa, Ethiopia, 01.10.2019