Fourth Estate has won a six-way auction at Frankfurt for The Truth Vaccine by social psychologist Dr Sander van der Linden.
Head of non-fiction Louise Haines acquired UK and Commonwealth rights from Will Francis at Janklow & Nesbit UK in “a major deal”. Fourth Estate will publish the book in hardback in spring 2022.
The agency’s right director, Zoe Nelson, is running an auction in the Netherlands, with strong interest in several other territories; Francis is about to submit the proposal in the US.
Van der Linden is on the front line of a battle against a pandemic of misinformation and fake news about Covid-19, and its potential vaccine. The director of Cambridge University's social decision-making laboratory, he is sometimes called Cambridge’s professor of “defence against the dark arts”. His team works with organisations including WhatsApp, Google and governments in both Europe and the US to find ways to fight against misinformation, disinformation and conspiracy theories.
His book's blurb explains: “In The Truth Vaccine, Sander explains why our brains are susceptible to misinformation, how it circulates and replicates itself like a biological virus; and that, also like a virus, once it has taken hold, it’s very hard to cure. Instead, he and his colleagues are developing techniques to help people resist persuasion—a set of vaccinations against misinformation which, like a conventional vaccine, operate on the principle of administering the virus in weakened form, in order to establish (intellectual) antibodies against it. In the book, he will explore how we acquire convictions, the problems posed by the 'motivated brain', the way we understand reality, and the characteristic attributes of fake news and conspiracy thinking."
Haines said: “Sander is at the forefront of his field on the psychology of persuasion and misinformation. His proposal promises a compelling book on why every one of us is susceptible to disinformation and what we can do to make ourselves immune.”