“To cure yourself of the news, spend a whole year spending last year’s news.” – Nassim Taleb
Problem of the news:
99.9999% noise, very little (if any) signal.
Big problem of the news:
Follow the money.
How do news channels make money? Advertising.
In theory the only news we should trust is the news which doesn’t make a profit based on advertising. This means perhaps we should put more trust in subscription-based news.
FEAR FEEDS — a phrase coined by Cindy. The problem about fear-feeds:
Whenever we read a fearful news article, we get a hit of dopamine.
Consider all the hormonal effects of reading the news:
- Increased heart rate
- Dilated pupils
- Increased anxiety and tension in your shoulders/neck
- Dopamine, Serotonin, Cortisol [and many undiscovered hormones] which is injected into your system.
Being a ‘responsible’ citizen.
As a citizen, it seems the best thing we can do is vote. To vote for certain laws and politicians. But beyond this — I’m not sure what being a “responsible” citizen means.
I do not see it as a moral duty to follow the news. Why? Unless the news affects my voting behavior, it is pointless from a citizen perspective.
Following the news as ‘virtue flexing’.
To virtue flex means this:
To show off in front of your ‘less intelligent’ peers by staying “on top” of the news.
For example, when someone tries to shame you for not knowing a certain news article or story– they are virtue flexing. They are trying to augment their feeling of self-righteousness by putting you down.
But he who has more information is often suckered by randomness. “Fooled by randomness” [Taleb].
The only useful thing I learned from Sociology is statistics. Specifically, how NOT to get suckered by correlation. That essentially:
Statistics cannot “prove” anything. Statistics can only DISPROVE things.
For example, statistics [no matter how many billions of data points you got] cannot predict anything, it cannot “prove” anything by causation. Why? It just takes 1 outlier or black swan to totally disprove everything.
Word-of-mouth as the most useful filter.
I am not saying to shave your head and go meditate in a cave somewhere. I encourage:
Talk more to real-life people.
Word-of-mouth is an effective filter. Also, when you talk to people in-person, the news is filtered to a more local level, which is the only useful news.
Also, the really important news will eventually get to you. For example, the REALLY important news will eventually get to you. The government might text you an ‘amber alert’, or your friends or family might all tell you the news.
You don’t need to seek the news; just sit back and let it come to you.
Everyone is scared shitless
“Madness is rare in the individual; with groups, it is the norm.” – Nietzsche
Another thing I learned from sociology:
Groups and mobs act differently than an individual.
Mob behavior is real. When we get fearful news, hysteria sets in. It also seems that humans are more motivated by fear (fear of loss) than the motivation of potential gain. This is why losing $100 at the casino feels 10x more painful than earning $100 at the casino.
Who is to blame?
Ain’t nobody to blame. It is just the way the internet is currently setup.
Google makes money when you go to a website/blog with a Google ‘Adsense‘ ad. Every time you look at an ad, or click on an ad, both Google and the website earns money.
Then just ask yourself:
How are websites/Google incentivized in order to maximize their profits?
Conclusion: Don’t be a sucker
Skepticism is good. To be skeptical is a sign of high intelligence.
Karl Popper’s idea of ‘falsification’:
Information can never ‘prove’ anything, but DISCONFIRM bullshit.
Be extremely suspicious of the news, and let embodied reality be the guide.