I don't read the news

Friday, August 16, 2019


Yes, you heard me right. I don't read the news. I always forget to. 

And I would feel guilty and left out and stupid when people talk about the big headlines. 

Until I read Chapter 99 of The Art of Thinking Clearly. Anyway, this will be the final post on that book, for now. But it will still be a book I will refer to every now and then. It is indeed very useful to train myself into thinking more clearly. 

Ok back to Chapter 99, on the News Illusion. 

Dobelli says, "We are incredibly well informed, yet we know incredibly little. Why? Because two centuries ago, we invented a toxic form of knowledge called 'news'. News is to the mind what sugar is to the body: appetizing, easy to digest—and highly destructive in the long run."

Really? 

But isn't news suppose to keep us in the loop, inform us about current issues and what matters?

I am still not sure about this.

But Dobelli brings out three points:

1. Our brains react disproportionately to different types of information. It is attracted to the sensational, shocking and scandalous. It filters out the subtle, complex, abstract, and profound. Think about it, would we rather read The Star or The Edge?

2. News is irrelevant. It is difficult to remember what we read and much of the time we can still get by not knowing. 

3. And as a result, news is a waste of time. He took the example of the 2008 Mumbai terror attack. He said, "Out of sheer thirst for recognition, terrorists murdered two hundred people. Let’s say a billion people devoted an hour of their time to following the aftermath: They viewed the minute-by-minute updates and listened to the inane chatter of a few “experts” and “commentators.” This is a very realistic “guesstimate” since India has more than a billion inhabitants. Thus our conservative calculation: One billion people multiplied by an hour’s distraction equals one billion hours of work stoppage. If we convert this, we learn that news consumption wasted around two thousand lives—ten times more than the attack. A sarcastic but accurate observation."

I still want to be in the know, but I won't worry too much now about missing out on current issues. I will still do what I do now—scanning headlines in Google News. I only read a couple that I find interesting. 

And the rest I will go read up when I hear people around me talking about it. 

What do you think?

pearlie

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