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Fahrenheit 451: Not About Censorship, But People “Turned Into Morons by TV” (openculture.com)
187 points by davesailer 7 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 85 comments

Bradbury wanted to write a book about TV turning people into morons, but he failed. He tried to: he wrote about a world where TV is omnipresent and people lack any intellectual cricism and curiosity, and tried to persuade readers that TV was the cause of this intellectual laziness.

This is actually a common trick that dystopian SF authors will use: they will create a world with two prominent features (e.g. GMO and caste society in "A Brave New World") and suggest that they are causally linked.

Bradbury failed at that. In his world, books are burnt. He assumed readers would see that as a consequence of TV that made people incurious, instead most readers recognized (correctly IMO) that book burning and censorship was instead the most likely cause of the situation.

And actually, as history unfolded (this book dates from 1953), we saw that TV did not replace books and did not actually displace them at all. Internet did, to some extent, but ebooks are pretty popular (and people still read them, despite all the SF predictions about audiobooks becoming the only available medium)

Also, in 1949, a famous book, 1984, presented a word full of incurious and frankly intellectually limited people that was caused by propaganda and censorship. It was closer to what was observed in real authoritarian systems and presented much more convincing causal links.

To people who had read 1984, the world presented in Fahrenheit 451 is a magnification of a post-propaganda society, not a result of TV taking over the world.

This is an interesting case of a book staying relevant despite the original idea of its author being invalidated.

>he wrote about a world where TV is omnipresent and people lack any intellectual cricism and curiosity, and tried to persuade readers that TV was the cause of this intellectual laziness.

If you look closely you can see huge swaths of that today. How many people actually formulate their own political and social opinions without seeds or entire forests planted by television news? They literally tell you what your opinion should be in many cases.

A common cited example is the Nixon/Kennedy debate. People who listened to it on the radio thought Nixon won, while people who watched it on television thought Kennedy won, and that was when TV was in it's infancy. The relevance of that is people started voting based on visual appearance rather than competence of the issues. Unfortunately Nixon didn't do very well once he actually was elected, but that is besides the point. Imagine people like most of us who grew up with it.

As you mentioned, people now don't know any other way, because we grew up with it. That's the long term problem. Perhaps without TV, people would make much better decisions at the polling stations.

It's a constant, one-way deluge that people get exposed to. I think the internet, with all it's faults, helps to alleviate that, because at least with the internet, an individual can discuss alternating opinions.

The Nixon/Kennedy debate anecdote is a common misconception. In reality most radio listeners were older and lived in rural areas, making them more likely to lean towards Nixon anyways. [1]

People have always interpreted things the way they want to, whether it's radio or TV.

[1] https://www.paleycenter.org/p-the-nixon-kennedy-debates-a-lo...

> If you look closely you can see huge swaths of that today.

Oh yes, most dystopian fiction still uses it.

And this is also an old rhetorical trick. In political speech it takes the form of putting two words as close as possible together to make people unconsciously do a link between them. "I will strengthen our borders to prevent immigration. Crime is the main focus of our policies." <- No links were formally made in that sentence between crime and immigration, but the words seem linked.

If you make a whole speech about Obama that also talks about the problems of lobbying and corruption of the elite, people will associate Obama with these concepts.

It is very easy and very effective.

Certainly JFK was more telegenic than Nixon, but it also could've been his use of body language showed him to have an upper hand.

> The relevance of that is people started voting based on visual appearance rather than competence of the issues.

I'm curious why we can exclude people previously voting based on "auditory appearance".

I don't think there are today more "morons" than 100 or 1000 years ago. With TV, magazines and lately the internet they just surface more. 100 years ago you only knew the three "morons" in in your small town.

On top of that cultural pressure goes down and people do things - being "morons" - today they we're afraid to do 50 years ago.

I'd make a secondary argument as well, I think we're experiencing a decline in traditional romanticism. A lot of the arts whether they be artistic or literary were historically supported via patronage. That hasn't changed... much... in the general sense. HOWEVER! The patron has changed! Instead of a few, or a singular, uber patrons content is now funded via a large audience of patrons who are in some way monetized. Art is still art, but the patron is no longer the aristocracy, the intelligencia, or any other group with high social prestige. We know that our shows, comics, and books are funded first by large souless corporations that then get a return on their investment from the consumer. It's not antithetical to art in my opinion, BUT, it does mean that any of the value that we would give things in the past is now gone. Because we're no longer enjoying the subject matter of people greater than ourselves, we're enjoying content that was put together with all the finesse of a hotdog for mass consumption. And when we're not, we're enjoying content we know was specifically tailored to our interests and that's why it costs more or is rarer.

None of that is inherently bad as I already said. In my opinion it's actually pretty good. But I do think that it's also why things seem less prestine than a lot of the 'old masterpieces'. It's true that some masterpieces are admired because of the effect they had on their field within their time periods. But I'd argue some of that glamor is also because that content was created for 'people who are better than regular people' within that same time period. And so now we're left with material that nuanced in it's own right, but devoid of that suspension of disbelief that we're witnessing something larger than ourselves.

TV was people you could look up to. Now a lot of it's reality TV based on outrage and shame. I'm not certain why. At least it's cheaper to make.

A good friend used to say "Everyone's life is just one or two degrees away from a Jerry Springer episode"

I think a lot of people watch that kind of "reality" TV just to make themselves feel better about how screwed up their own lives are.

I wouldn't call them morons, to me that depicts an inability to learn. I would say today there are far more people (as a percentage) that are incapable of critical thought and reading between the lines than there were 100 years ago, at least in the US. Many people are also much less educated than when the only entertainment was reading books.

Example: Years ago, when Obama was bailing out the banks, GOP talking heads skewered him. They wanted the banks to fail and rebuild. A few years later, when Occupy Wall Street formed, who were also against the bank bailouts, the GOP talking heads skewered them, even though they had similar political positions about the banks that the same talking heads where talking about just a few years earlier. How many people caught on to that? Lack of critical thinking.

Good point. Which opinionated news sources would you recommend?

Honestly, none of them, but you have to digest news somewhere, don't you? You have to be an informed citizen as part of your civic duty, don't you? Reading is typically better than watching or listening. Read multiple sources form multiple points of view and have your BS detector fine tuned. It's also better to get news from other countries, they don't have as much skin in the game. Constantly ask, "do I really care?" "Why do I care" "Is this really important, or are they trying to sway me to care?" "Why do they want me to care?" Also, if you do care, read the entire article, because relevant facts are often buried at the bottom under the top which is sensationalism / clickbait.

Furthermore, care more about stuff that directly affects you and your family. Jobs is certainly a big one. I care that companies are constantly pushing down wages more than I care about other things, because it directly affects me. Just an example. I care that companies are polluting the river my family visits. I care that the educational system in our state is horrible, I care that health care is fucking expensive.

Also, never read opinion columns, the same is true for TV. The old 6'oclock news is decent because they only have 30 minutes, but all the auxiliary shows and the 24 hour news are nothing but opinion. Unfortunately decent sources like the NYT is half opinion, but at least they label it as such.

one without advertisers. Check out the No Agenda Show (podcast) -- they analyze all new sources to help you discover the real news w/o the bias.

Or the fact that the silly Occupy Wallstreet kids are now aligned with big banks and corporations on the issue of immigration.

This, with the addition that populations tend to demonize whatever is new. Then it was TV, then it was cable TV (MTV is evil!). Rock music, the internet, smartphones and tablets.

But in the past, they thought reading would ruin a generation and ruin their memories (it did kill a tradition, but we really just remember different things). Chess was certainly going to dumb down a generation, and folks were seriously suspicious of the automated elevator.

We don't have a world in which TV/internet saturation never existed, so it's really hard to determine who is right.

Amish and Mennonite communities to a point. Places with poor electricity outside the US.

And we have some records of times before television. In fact, there are still folks alive who remember such things. Heck, I remember times before the internet. My parents didn't have cable at one point. My grandmother remembers not having television in her house as they couldn't afford it. Their parents lived without radio. Their parents wrote down their experiences.

It isn't true that we don't have such a world, it just happened before now. Maybe we won't know who is right, but no one is actually willing to give up what they have and it is rather likely that it will fall into the same doomsday predictions about the new-fangled thing as all the previous one.

I'm just glad that we're past Rock and Roll ruining the minds of our youth.

Now, ironically, everything is ruining Rock and Roll.

Well it's much easier for "morons" to survive till adulthood or even terminal age today than it was 1000 years ago for sure. 100 is debatable but still I wouldn't say that it's not possible.

Bradbury now insists that Fahrenheit 451 had nothing to do with censorship or McCarthyism, but he used to say just the opposite. In 1956 he said: "I wrote this book at a time when I was worried about the way things were going in this country four years ago. Too many people were afraid of their shadows; there was a threat of book burning. Many of the books were being taken off the shelves at that time. [...] I wanted to do some sort of story where I could comment on what would happen to a country if we let ourselves go too far in this direction, where then all thinking stops, and the dragon swallows his tail, and we sort of vanish into a limbo and we destroy ourselves by this sort of action."

And in 1979: "Only six weeks ago, I discovered that, over the years, some cubby-hole editors at Ballantine Books, fearful of contaminating the young, had, bit by bit, censored some seventy-five separate sections from the novel. Students, reading the novel, which, after all, deals with censorship and book-burning in the future, wrote to tell me of this exquisite irony."

Really not sure what to make of that.

It's been years since I read it, but I always got the feeling that the world was generally dystopian. Take the TV aspect of it - it's not just that people watch TV instead of reading, but that their attention spans are so shot that TV has become extremely vapid, violent, and rapid fire. The main characters wife runs over dogs for fun, and she almost kills herself taking sleeping pills because she couldn't pay attention to how many she took. The firehouse dog isn't a lovable dalmatian, but a cold and deadly eight legged robot.

If the book is based on a grotesque exaggeration of trends he was seeing in post-war America, then it could well be about censorship, TV, pills, paving over natural beauty, alienation from society, etc. Perhaps Bradbury has just emphasized different aspects at different times.

This worries me... Having read 451 several years ago (and absolutely loving it) how do I know if I've read an uncensored version or not?

As I read through this, I'm most disappointed by the people claiming that Bradbury is wrong about the meaning of his book. The reasoning people are using seems to be that it's wrong for the author to think that he has sole say on how his book should be interpreted. I agree with that in general, but that's not the case here. Those claiming the book is about censorship very clearly ignore major points in the story. In Montag's conversation with Captain Beatty, it's explained that the government only started burning because the people asked for it. Books made people uncomfortable, so they wanted them gone. They much preferred the intellectual comfort that came with the "family". Personally, I think those that claim he was wrong are exactly the people that Bradbury wrote about. They argue against his themes, going as far as to ignore very clear exposition, because they ring true and bring discomfort.

They aren’t ignoring the themes, there is just and alternative cause and effect relationship possible.

Nothing you point out changes this. It’s still perfectly valid to say that while TV in the book is their comfort space the situation is primarily driven by generalized censorship of uncomfortable views.

In fact, if anything, your point about the conversation helps support this point.

Umberto Eco defines a novel as a "machine to create interpretations".

In retrospect, a lot of Fahrenheit 451 seems like "cranky old man" territory, although Bradbury was only 33 when it was published. I recall a lengthy passage where Clarisse talks about how highways have destroyed respect for nature because it's impossible to see flowers at freeway speeds. Literally impossible, this wasn't just a metaphor--she also mentions how freeway advertisements have to be extremely long because ordinary billboards would just be a blur, which implies that Bradbury had never actually ridden on a freeway before despising them.

i think these two things probably imply that vehicles traveled much faster than on the freeways of the 1950s, extrapolating from trends he saw (car travel becoming faster) in the same way that he extrapolated the wall-sized televisions from early tv screens increasing in size, or people readings fewer books for that matter

He wasn't completely off, even just a few years ago the speculation of wall size TVs becoming common place was a very real possibility.

By far the most original and entertaining character in Fahrenheit 451 is Captain Beatty, with his sneering denunciations of the cultural value and psychological impact of books, not least because of the (probably unintentionally) ironic way they mirror better-informed versions of Bradbury's own contempt for the worth TV and radio

If he was critical of TV and suspicious of radio for they made people lazy and were satisfied by factoids rather than knowledge, I can only imagine what he'd think about social networks and twitter and even computer games.

I imagine him declaring them utterly corrosive to knowledge and true learning.

people said the same thing about mass production of books. It's ultimately been the major criticism of all pop culture, usually coming from people vested in more "elite" forms of culture. Meanwhile people are probably reading way more than 20 years ago (at least through social networks). And most definitely writing more.

Getting back to Bradbury's points about TV/radio, he talked about how TV/radio addiction makes it harder to read a book.

So what? You've replaced one addiction with another. Books aren't inherently better than other media (except perhaps some ancillary stuff about your brain generating imagery or eyesight). I'm saying this as a person with this lament (more because some stuff is only available in book form).

I wonder what he would have thought about audiobooks.

>I wonder what he would have thought about audiobooks.

Background noise.

Ever since the greeks began taking up writing and reading, and Socrates bemoaning the loss of the ability to memorize entire epics, there has been an attack on "vain" knowledge.

I'd guess in his mind the epitome of a learned person was the aristocratic scientist who read first sources in the native language: Sanskrit, Greek, Latin among others. First sources, always in the original, not interpreted.

I don't doubt that results in improved critical thinking. But whether it's a good investment when you have limited time, I don't know.

What do you mean mass production of books ? Democratization of the printing press ?

It seems to me the printing press actually improved things, but in more recent time the educating power and self improvement potential of books got significantly diluted by drowning books into huge numbers of published entertainment pieces. Entertainment took over knowledge.

I'd say the opposite: today people are reading less book than 20 years ago, writing on paper less and language is on a trend ot become impoverished.

Yes, exactly that. Folks thought that cheap, freely available books would ruin a generation, their minds being unable to remember things like past generations. Young folks would no longer learn as their heads were stuck in fantasy books. They might even become immoral.

They thought similar things about chess - that it would make a generation of morons.

"The Simpsons" were controversial in the 80's, since they just knew kids would try to emulate Bart, just for a more recent example. My mother wouldn't let me watch it for some years on the single family television.

And lastly: I don't know if folks are reading fewer books or not if you count digital books. That said, I think folks read a lot more than they used to, since a lot of communication is text-based.

Whoever thought that chess would make people stupid?

Quick look shows I've mixed up facts, and honestly don't have the time to do a deeper search to find the attitude. It seems more of a social evil from a shallow search, but that's just a mention in the Wikipedia article [1]. A little more information here [2].It has been banned numerous times through history.

[1]https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_chess#Europe [2] http://www.strangehistory.net/2013/04/07/the-evils-of-chess/

It seems to me the printing press actually improved things, but in more recent time the educating power and self improvement potential of books got significantly diluted by drowning books into huge numbers of published entertainment pieces. Entertainment took over knowledge.

What's entertainment and what's knowledge? Where do you fit Fahrenheit 451?

Going back even further, Socrates has said the same thing about writing. This new-fangled-thing-is-dumbing-us-down idea is an old idea.

You don't have to imagine, he talks about internet and was extremely critical of it.

I think he missed a critical point of it though: he sees books as ways to save and exchange ideas of interests coming from various authors while TV is mostly a control tool because it has to go through one choke point that can be controlled by a big, potential nefarious, entity.

He sees internet as an extension of TV but its flow of information is inherently different.

Social networks are different, in that the people can comment back and discuss the issue if someone is trying to spread nonsense.

This is why many top news sites now have disabled comments (to "prevent trolling and hate speech" obviously) and why there is so much pressure on social media sites to ban users who are saying something different.

He wasn't suspicious, he called it out.

And seeing how oeople block each other on Twitter and retreating into echo chambers all the time, people on HN and elsewhere react like babies to anything that is "too personal", he's perfectly right. It's not about knowledge, it's about being and remaining cut off from yourself and genuine emotions. Having a lot of knowledge about the world is a great way to go about that, while deluding oneself about it. Others are having power or respect. And it's not a long or complicated book, you know, so even just this discussion kinda proves it right.

Oh, and video games, where basically 95% of the "lore" just seems to be code for having issues? Don't get me started on that Deathlord McVoidtouch and all that inane BS. I've been playing games since 1990, and 99.9% of it has always been trash, while today hardly anyone is even trying. And people lap it up, the dumber it is, the more filled with marketing speak and alienated magical thinking, the better. "It's just a game, it's just a movie, don't be a party pooper". It's Fahrenheit 451 to a T.

Your third paragraph applies equally to books, per Sturgeon's law. [0]

[0]: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sturgeon%27s_law

Who writes the material, who reviews the material, who approves the material, who owns these news/media networks, this stuff goes all the way to the top, who is allowing this in their organizations... Question the owners and people in charge, and always follow the money.

Maybe Bradbury was right when he said "I am not afraid of robots, I am afraid of people."

People who notably stop thinking are those living in totalitarian regimes who are afraid to incriminate themselves by careless speech. If TV in general were capable of turning people into morons then no TV shows could be made. This is because screenwriters, presenters, etc, couldn't learn their craft without watching thousands and thousands of hours themselves.

Everytime this quote brought up; people on social media start jerking over how the real meaning is in the eye of the beholder. Death of the author and all that. How does HN feel about it?

There are plenty of songs whose words I've interpreted in a way that was probably not what the writer was thinking of, but is nonetheless deeply meaningful to me. Of course meaning is in the eye of the beholder; it's certainly useful and interesting to ask what the author intended, but that doesn't invalidate other interpretations.

I think songs are a bit different to novels. Because of the format - having to incorporate rhyme an meter - songwriters are more often likely to put stuff in that doesn't neccessarily make sense but fits into the rhyme. I don't have any proper evidence for this, but I did used to know a musician and once asked him about the meaning of an ambiguous line in one of his songs (it could be interpreted in a coule of different ways) and he said that it could mean whichever one you wanted it to. I definitely got the vibe from him that he put it in because it rhymed and sounded good, without neccessarily having any particular meaning in mind for it.

I would say some songwriters would be more inclined towards that way of songwriting and others would definitely consider themselves storytellers and have a definite meaning for all their lyrics. Telling the difference is not always easy.

Do you believe that the author has some privileged position w/r/t defining the meaning of a story for everyone else? I see no reason to believe that. As far as I'm concerned, no story has any universal, objective meaning. Meaning comes from the interaction of the story's contents and the reader's mind / beliefs / knowledge / biases, etc.

The author can always say what he/she intended the story to mean, but that really has no bearing on what any individual reader takes from the story.

I feel that while the author shouldn't be the arbitrator of what the whole work is about, they should have a say in what it's not about. e.g. if Lewis Carol would have stated that Alice in Wonderland is not about drugs; then the public should respect that and stop telling everyone else that it is. Following that thought to its logical conclusion, if extremists of any kind praise a work for promoting their view while the author denies that it does; with whom should we side?

I do think there's an interesting discussion to be had about it.

I care what the author thinks they were expressing because it matters if you want to know if the did a satisfactory job of expressing it, or why they didn't. But whatever you can do to learn something useful from someone else's work is valuable regardless.

Some people fall in love with things and make their whole life perspective about things like this. I'm sure one could study a rock and learn how to be a great person if they have the mind to do it. On the other hand, people tend to think The Terminator is some kind of prophetic documentary ALA "fiction has some basis in truth" (as though the reality didn't have a better claim to that description.) So I'm wary of anybody who takes a work of fiction too seriously, except in the academic sense of being a good communicator.

The idea of "meaning" is synonymous with agreement. Individual words "mean" things because we agree on the mapping. "Subjective, individual meaning" seems to just refer to personal thoughts and interpretation. It's fine to have personal thoughts, but "the author's meaning" is what they ultimately attempted to make others think is the message within the work. So to make comparisons between properties of the author's meaning and personal "meanings" is comparing apples to oranges, no?

What do you mean social media ? If you're referring to a website please don't label it social media as this is PR and novlang.

Facebook and twitter share the characteristic of getting the worse out of people and capitalizing on it, so this would introduce a bias by giving a megaphone to idiots and people acting like idiots.

To answer your question, no one better that Ray Bradbury can tell what Farenheit 451 is about (and he's been vocal about how people misinterpret it). He knows what he wanted to put in his books. But that does not imply that readers will get it or that in a different context the main interpretation can be different.

His point is valid though, TV turns people watching it into morons, at least the worldwide scientific consensus says so and said so for decades.

TV is interesting. It's amazing to see kids watching TV, and I remember how stimulating it was to my imagination (animated shows, live action shows...). I think it taps into a deep desires for virtual schemas in the form of stories as a way to learn. Except you don't learn anything, especially since it's passive and none of what you see gets translated into reality. Maybe turning half of TV consumption into real world challenge/game could restore balance.

> Johnson quotes Bradbury describing television as a medium that "gives you the dates of Napoleon, but not who he was,” spreading "factoids" instead of knowledge. “They stuff you with so much useless information, you feel full.”

I wonder if books bypass this by giving so much information that you need to summarize it to follow along. And the compressed representation is closer to knowledge.

"During a radio interview in 1956, Bradbury said:

"I wrote this book at a time when I was worried about the way things were going in this country four years ago. Too many people were afraid of their shadows; there was a threat of book burning. Many of the books were being taken off the shelves at that time. And of course, things have changed a lot in four years. Things are going back in a very healthy direction. But at the time I wanted to do some sort of story where I could comment on what would happen to a country if we let ourselves go too far in this direction, where then all thinking stops, and the dragon swallows his tail, and we sort of vanish into a limbo and we destroy ourselves by this sort of action."


Two short stories by Bradbury address similar themes around screened entertainment, and are worth the 10 minutes to read if you're not yet familiar:

'The Pedestrian' – http://www.riversidelocalschools.com/Downloads/pedestrian%20...

'The Veldt' – http://www.veddma.com/veddma/Veldt.htm

The Pedestrian was the inspiration or muse if you will, behind the very book itself.

If you want to understand the full array of problems caused by TV I suggest the book "Four arguments for elimination of television". He consulted experts in several areas to show how tv leads to an altered state of mind that makes you accept information uncritically, and the consequences for our society. Many of his arguments are still valid for the internet.

Interesting. I think the 2003 reprint had a little section at the end with an interview that Judy Del Rey did with him. In that, if I recall correctly, he mentions a different origin story: that works of art become slowly bowdlerised as each affected group of people takes offence to something in them. In time, all books are banned so as to prevent offence.

Its been a long time since I read the book, but I remember that being explicitly in the text.

Slaves were forbidden to read it was so dangerous. Nat Turner's ability to form an uprising came from learning to read and consequently preach. Frederick Douglass had to learn secretly, and what he read inspired him to escape slavery.

Now, we as a society are becoming illiterate, incapable of basic reading comprehension. We are voluntarily enslaving ourselves.

> Now, we as a society are becoming illiterate, incapable of basic reading comprehension.

That's an extraordinary claim. Do you have evidence to back it up? Because from a cursory glance, studies seem to show the opposite: https://ourworldindata.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/ourwor...

Depends on the definition of literacy[1] turns out the low end (basic literacy) is getting better and the high end (full proficiency) is getting worse.

[1]: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Literacy_in_the_United_States

Not the OP, but I recall a section in Mark Fischer's book Capitalist Realism, in which he relayed an anecdote from his teaching days. According to Fischer, a large plurality of his students (in higher education) were functionally illiterate. They had gone through the usual early-ed literacy, and knew the mechanics of how to read, but in practice showed a distinct aversion to actually doing reading.

When asked to read, they would complain that they couldn't, because it was "boring". They had been so consumed by spectacle that the ordinary act of reading words off a page had drifted beyond their reach.

What is going on now is partly a retreat from real literacy back to oral modes of communication and oral modes of thought (i.e. "texting" is really a transliteration of an oral utterance, not a literary form). This is a disaster. - Alan Kay (2016)

... from my fortune database @ http://github.com/globalcitizen/taoup

That's people attending school, not having reading comprehension -- which isn't just getting something from the text, but understanding precisely what it says and doesn't say -- or having much of an attention span. Just an cursory listen and read to the gibberish in marketing, TV, movies, on youtube, not to mention people in real life, while not showing me a trend, shows me there's lots of FUBAR accepted as normalcy. Idiocracy was optimistic I think, no way is it going to take 500 years.

Reading comprehension isn't the same thing as Critical Thinking. Take a look at a typical community Bible Study group: they'll definitely score high marks for reading comprehension, but (in my own biased perspective) low marks for critical analysis.

That's pretty biased.

I like how "evidence" is required when everyone is not parroting the "facts" everyone got by watching the same "news"-cum-"comedy show" on TV.

I'll grant you that. I do die a tiny bit inside when shows like Last Week Tonight or The Daily Show, both of which imply that heavy research goes into their programming, will have their hosts say "Studies have shown..." but fail to give a citation. A simple, unobtrusive on-screen citation text doesn't take trouble to add, yet would significantly boost the shows' credibility - and hopefully coax the rest of the media into doing the same.

Maybe because the studies are cherry-picked to fit their agenda?

People are reading more than ever thanks to the internet and literacy rates are up.

The problem is whether those readers and reading things that challenge their world view rather than just affirm everything they already think.

Browsing through twitter or fb can't really be considered reading..

What do you mean now we are voluntarily enslaving ourselves ?

This was already happening in 1548 as pointed out in the discourse on voluntary servitude[1].

[1]: http://www.constitution.org/la_boetie/serv_vol.htm

It's a little harsh, but I can't totally disagree.

Same could also be said for radio/books/internet/vidya/etc...

It's not so much the medium as the marketplace, which optimizes for revenue. This is not to say that nourishing things don't squeak through--just that nourishment is not the objective.

With all due respect to Mr. Bradbury, the author does not have a monopoly on meaning and while his interpretations are all valid so are ours. It's clearly at least about both and I'm sure there are plenty of other well supported theories that are also correct.

Tangential but can thoroughly recommend that otherworldly film (1966) of the book directed by François Truffaut.

> "Ray Bradbury Reveals the True Meaning..."

Which I thought he did pretty unambiguously in his book!

Whatever happened to HTTP oode 451?

Submitted in IETF as an RFC 7725 in February 2015. Seems like it's still in that stage.

Everyone is a moron, it's just the amount that varies

The title here on HN is not especially helpful in understanding what the article is about, since it leaves out that it's a) about Fahrenheit 451 and b) said by Bradbury. Maybe replace it with the title of the article "Ray Bradbury Reveals the True Meaning of Fahrenheit 451."

Agreed, but I think we can do a bit better by dropping a word or two.

Submitted title was 'It's Not About Censorship, but People “Being Turned into Morons by TV”', which was a reasonable effort but doesn't say what "it" is.

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