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December 20, 2014

The Gell-Mann Amnesia effect

The Gell-Mann Amnesia effect is as follows.

You open the newspaper to an article on some subject you know well. In Murray's case, physics. In mine, show business. You read the article and see the journalist has absolutely no understanding of either the facts or the issues. Often, the article is so wrong it actually presents the story backward—reversing cause and effect. I call these the "wet streets cause rain" stories. Paper's full of them.
In any case, you read with exasperation or amusement the multiple errors in a story, and then turn the page to national or international affairs, and read as if the rest of the newspaper was somehow more accurate about Palestine than the baloney you just read. You turn the page, and forget what you know.”
-- Michael Crichton

Posted by gerardvanderleun at December 20, 2014 8:16 AM. This is an entry on the sideblog of American Digest: Check it out.

Your Say

And everyone suffers from this. Its understandable from one perspective: you have to trust people at least somewhat, and if your only option is to get news from news providers, you cannot simply disregard them utterly.

But the more you're in the news - as a subject, not a worker - the more you understand how unreliable, inaccurate, and often worthless they are. They always get at least one detail wrong, and usually something significant.

Posted by: Christopher Taylor [TypeKey Profile Page] at December 20, 2014 8:25 AM

Been about 15 years since I looked at a newspaper, same with TV news, I mean, what's the point?

If I want fiction I'll read a Crichton.

Darn, already ready all his stuff...what to do, what to do?

Posted by: ghostsniper [TypeKey Profile Page] at December 20, 2014 9:11 AM

I haven't read a newspaper since the parakeet died. That was back when I still had hair.

Posted by: Vermont Woodchuck [TypeKey Profile Page] at December 20, 2014 10:54 AM

Its not just newspapers. Its websites, its radio news, hearing reports prepared for a reader. Its the TV news, with the same thing. Don't act like you are avoiding this effect because you don't read newspapers.

Posted by: Christopher Taylor [TypeKey Profile Page] at December 20, 2014 7:44 PM

The diff is, that with the web you at least have the chance to cross reference, with 1 dimensional news delivery you have nothing.

Posted by: ghostsniper [TypeKey Profile Page] at December 21, 2014 8:29 AM

Any news media larger and more detached than my town newspaper carries stories I don't care about.
I read about things happening in other states, other countries, on different continents and I think: so what? How does it affect me? what am I gonna do about it? Nothing, that's what.

There will always be another story, a different crisis popping up with each new day. Taking a long and distant view they repeat. I haven't figured the frequency but the stories can be put in categories. We could have Fisher-Price choice machines. Want some tragedy? How about a political scandal or a plague or some social injustice? Maybe cops getting killed. Or bad guys getting killed ...

Here, this one covers a lot of ground and repeats with dreary frequency:
"Why of course the people don't want war. Why should some poor slob on a farm want to risk his life in a war when the best he can get out of it is to come back to his farm in one piece? Naturally the common people don't want war; neither in Russia, nor in England, nor in America, nor in Germany. That is understood. But after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine policy, and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is to tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country.”
Hermann Göring said that and it was old when he got it.

Posted by: chasmatic [TypeKey Profile Page] at December 21, 2014 10:42 PM

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