I've since extended that policy to most of my news...especially social platforms like Facebook and Twitter long before fake news became a thing. The irony is that I've been oft criticized by friends and family for being ill-informed by not reading CNN.
I do wonder how much speculation, opinion and general exposure to ways of thinking shape our thoughts in subtle ways. I'm generally afraid of a future where this phenomenon becomes better understood and weaponized.
I didn't know about this event until news reporters came flocking down our small gravel street. For several days they were asking for interviews of anyone who lived down the road. Every single one of them was perplexed by my not knowing anything about the story, which was apparently "all over the news". Furthermore, they couldn't understand why I wouldn't give a statement after finding out the truck driver was one of my neighbors. A man I had never met before, or even seen. I informed them I had never met him, wasn't aware of the situation so I couldn't speak to it, and would go on assuming any other neighbor of mine is innocent and minding their own business. They could go about thinking every one of their neighbors is responsible for every recent murder and see how it goes for them.
I know that kind of constant reporting has been commonplace for a long time, but I wish there was a better way to show others that you don't need to read every news article or event to understand what is happening around you. I don't need fear to drive my instinct of what can kill me. I'm a rider as well and chose to join the community ride for the father and son. That seemed like a much better way to show support with other people that lived around me.
I watched an hour of CNN's every night but it was never that night's coverage. It was from exactly two weeks ago.
It was amazing how much "breaking news!" was irrelevant or just outright wrong, how many large trend predictions were wrong, and how many "[person] will do X" were wrong. While the predictions could have been portrayed as opinions, they were presented as facts and the obvious next steps or conclusions.
I realized pretty quickly that avoiding CNN kept out the blatantly wrong information so even if I didn't replace it with anything, I was net ahead.
A few years ago, I discovered this and realized that some portion of it was probably on purpose:
Personally, I skim the nyt newsletter over cereal and basically only thoroughly read local news articles from the paper of record here and some decent local magazines. Reading local stories gets you out of the little cultural bubble you've formed around your lifestyle. I've learned my city is an onion, a thousand cities at once. National news, on the other hand, is designed to polarize and monetize.
And in the current environment of negative info overload, things are going to feel much worse than they really are.
We don't live in a static world. Things are always changing and the environment of negative info overload will change too. Even though most people can't imagine how that is going to happen, it will happen. Why? Because the number of people sick of this unnatural state of opinion overload is increasing everyday.
It's unavoidable, but compartmentalization of Information and focus can help. You don't always have to mix fragments of known things (Do you think you know everything or almost anything you know?) with possibly new ways of providing products functionality or a completely new product consciously, but many times you are putting an "additional" cognitive effort when you try to predict if someone else would do it the same way you do it, or will go through the same thought process, and get the same results. Of course, that "additional" can overload you.
I do wonder how much speculation, opinion and general exposure to ways of thinking shape our thoughts in subtle ways. I'm generally afraid of a future where this phenomenon becomes better understood and weaponized.
Those phenomenons are being exploited from centuries ago but they have different causes and taxonomies according to the discipline you look at them.
This phenomena was weaponized over a century ago. The Spanish-American war was largely instigated by propaganda so that William Randolph Hearst could sell more papers ("You furnish the pictures and I'll furnish the war"). Mass communications and mass advertising was critical to developing the mass markets of the early 20th century. Propaganda played a huge part in both World Wars, and was critical to Hitler's rise to head of the Nazi Germany. Orwell's 1984 wasn't speculation about a hypothetical future 35 years off; it was a thinly-veiled allegory of his actual experience writing cultural broadcasts for the BBC during WW2.
The history of modernity is literally the history of getting large bodies of people to think alike, to buy into particular models of reality, and to subsume their individual, family, or tribal interests under broader national interests. That's how we distinguish the "modern" world from "pre-modern" civilizations that we have largely enslaved or exterminated.
On a broader level propaganda and weaponized information dates back to the ancient Romans and Greeks, but the invention of movable type, radio, and TV dramatically accelerated it. Arguably the Internet is reversing that trend by giving a large plurality of voices an audience, but those of us who grew up in the modern era have brains so conditioned to a monopoly of worldviews that we have trouble making sense of it all.
> You may read this tariff story and think, what’s the big deal? The story’s not bad. Isn’t it reasonable to talk about effects of current events in this way? I answer, absolutely not. Such speculation is a complete waste of time. It’s useless. It’s bullshit on the front page of the Times.
His argument is that the media should only discuss whatever has happened already, and should absolutely never mention any expert opinion on how today's events will impact the near future? Saying that steel tariffs will likely to send the price of steel up sharply, perhaps as much as ten percent, is now "bullshit on the front page of the Times"?
I've read almost every one of his books and loved them. But this is a great example of how expertise in one field seldom translates to other fields.
But in the nyt, you don't get these disclaimer sentences surrounding the speculation. You get "Tarrifs feared to raise steel prices as high as 10%" boldface in the headline, and that's all most people really see. If you have a communications degree, don't give me your theories on macroeconomics. Stay in your lane, and keep the analysis in the macroeconomics journals. The job of the reporter is to report, not read tea leaves.
My theory why nyt and other papers do this baseless speculation that they aren't qualified to make: game retail traders.
Imagine knowing a particular pundit was right 99% of the time! When he/she spoke, I'd listen and invest accordingly.
Now, I happen to agree that tariffs may cause prices to increase. I've been educated in economics and study it as a hobby; I can explain my point-of-view from the concrete facts to the high level theory. The most definitive statement I would ever be willing to say on the subject is that tariffs always harm the economic, moral, and political interests of the citizens of the country imposing them.
If someone tells you, without further qualification (as is nearly always the case for TV and newspaper pundits), that a tariff of x% will cause a price change of y%, they are either incompetent or they are lying to your face in order to advance a hidden agenda. It is a vastly complicated question that requires detailed analysis of financial flows, specific industries, interacting policies of many nations, and geography.
And it matters a whole helluva lot.
The improper speculation about the consequences of current tariffs are precisely what give Trump and his cabinet the intellectual cover to make outlandish claims like "our tariffs are being paid for by China."
That's unfair. First of all, their interviewer probably demanded that they give a quotable figure, because the readers want some quick concrete takeaways and not a lesson in economics and uncertainty. And just because they didn't give further qualification (or it didn't make it into the quote) doesn't mean they didn't consider all of those things. I think you risk being guilty of making disingenuous assumptions about them in the same way that you're accusing them of making disingenuous assumptions about economics.
>The improper speculation about the consequences of current tariffs are precisely what give Trump and his cabinet the intellectual cover to make outlandish claims like "our tariffs are being paid for by China."
They certainly are being paid (in part) by China, and appear to be having the desired effect of shifting US supply chains away from China.
If they only hurt American businesses and consumers and didn't affect China at all, then China wouldn't be responding with retaliatory tariffs on American goods. And I presume you don't think that China's retaliatory tariffs only hurt the Chinese.
In my own areas of expertise -- data analysis and economics -- the answer is "Yes, very much so". Certainly there are pockets of high quality writing, but that mostly comes from experts writing on their own blogs in their own areas of expertise, or from periodic guest articles by the same experts. Mainstream economics writing is, as a rule, terrible. Statistical literacy is arguably even worse.
What's it like for everyone else? What's your area of expertise and is this endemic to your field?
To be more specific, if you think reporters are getting things wrong, you can call them and tell them what the real scoop is; most reporters are very easy to get ahold of, and would to get the real scoop.
The reality is that most people who really know what they are talking about, don’t like talking to the press. They either consider it a waste of their time, or have an agenda and are only interested in talking to reporters to advance that agenda.
In fact I think a lot of the times people think reporters are “getting it wrong,” it is at least partially because the reporting doesn’t comport with their view on things. Economics would be a classic example of a discipline full of differing theories and schools about how to interpret the basic measurable facts (or even how facts should be measured).
I don't, however, feel like that automatically invalidates the articles on other subjects. It's possible (probable, even) that different news outlets will have different specializations - different strong and weak categories - and that tech might be a weak spot while, say, local events might be a strong spot. After all, I certainly ain't an expert on, say, politics or medicine or economics, so why should I expect journalists to be experts in technology?
The answer to that rhetorical question, of course, is that it's the job of a news publication to hire people who can competently report on the topics they cover, or else to not attempt to cover those topics. But that still doesn't invalidate the other articles automatically; it just means I should get a second opinion :)
Aeronautical engineers also miss a lot of the skin in the game that a pilot would have.
Also anything involving electric airplanes
* Boeing wants to make a new plane, by pretending it's a "small" modification of their existing plane. (don't have to get certified; the old plane designs wouldn't get certified today; costs a lot to certify and re-train; take your pick)
* One of the regulations they have to stay within is that the plane shouldn't pitch its nose up without any pilot input in that direction. (Maybe it was more specific than that; something about requiring more force to pitch higher up?)
* Some airplanes comply with this requirement because they comply with the laws of physics. (Including presumably the original 737; otherwise this system wouldn't be new, right?) Not so the 737Max.
* The system that caused the crash was meant to comply with the above. If the aircraft was pitched up, it applied a force on the controls down. (every 10 seconds or so?)
* One of the problems was that there were only 2 sensors feeding into this system. If you have 3 sensors, a single failure can be outvoted; if you have only 2 that disagree, no matter what you try, you'll get it wrong in some cases
* Something something software. We've already established we're working with too few sensors to be safe, and the system applies force intermittently every 10 seconds, so it's hard to even tell that it's a problem. Who cares how the software works?
* Because of the original desire to pass through this new plane under the same certification, there was no new pilot training that mentioned this system. There was some sort of optional indicator, I think, too? The output of the broken system was also intermittent, so it was hard for pilots to quickly realize what was happening.
However, when we open our mouths about something to other people, we better have put in that due diligence, or we'll propagate that misinformation.
I've been working in tech for a long time, and have several areas of expertise; distributed systems, realtime systems, visual simulation, etc, and I've also been studying economics for a long time. My bullshit detector goes off frequently, but much more so when reading things about "soft sciences", like economics, where there is much more room for opinion. In areas where you can run repeatable experiments, you prove your statements that way, but when no proof is possible, and all evidence is observational, the BS spews much more freely.
I don't mind that so much (aside from the anti-vax anti-gmo etc. etc. loony articles, those I detest of course), because that sort of ignorant enthusiasm is what got me into the field in the first place.
It's routine to find accidents that are 100% inaccurate when reporting the cause.
"Our times are different" thrown around without care is a very widespread cognitive error.
Absolutely right. The Book of Ecclesiastes talks about this at great length. History repeats, no-one will remember those of us alive today, and the people who follow us will also be forgotten by those who follow them.
>even if you do believe in one of them the rest must be concluded as millenia old fake news
A religion would not last thousands of years if there were nothing to it, and there's far more commonality between religions than meets the eye. Read the things that Jesus Christ said, and then read the Tao Te Ching. It's astounding how closely they agree on quite a few things. The "Test of Time" works subtly but powerfully over thousands of years. The old religions that still exist today contended, in their time, with hundreds or even thousands of competitors. Those competitors all faded away.
"Sons are seldom as good men as their fathers; they are generally worse, not better." ~Homer, The Odyssey
"Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will never pass away." ~Jesus, The Gospel of Matthew
If adversity results in 70% dead or broken, 20% damaged, and 10% triumphant what survivor of adversity gambles with his loved ones. The weaker children of better men then aren't an example of universal decline but rather the result of softer situations.
People follow their GPS systems off of bridges into lakes, our ancestors could navigate by the stars. Our bards earn their fame via marketing, and sing their songs using autotune, the bards of old memorized huge corpuses and sang them live. Our ancestors built the Great Wall of China, the U.S. struggles to build the Great Chain-Link Fence. Our academics hack p-values and they publish their work behind for-profit paywalls. When Archimedes discovered how to measure volumes of irregular objects, he ran naked through the streets shouting "Eureka!" When was the last time anyone at the Large Hadron Collider did that?
Our self-help books are generally not worth the paper they're written on. They're written by charlatans and marketed by professional marketers. None of them will be remembered fifty years from now. Ancient self-help books like the Gospels, the Tao Te Ching, the Proverbs of Solomon, these stand the test of time and help countless people every day. They are timeless and evergreen. They'll continue helping people a thousand years from now.
"So was fulfilled what was spoken through the prophet: 'I will open My mouth in parables; I will utter things hidden since the foundation of the world.'" ~Saint Matthew, quoting a Psalm which was already ancient in Jesus's time
- Most of us aren't living in tent cities.
- We are conversing in this thread in more than 140 characters per response
- Trump isn't our king.
- I a poor person have more really good music on my hard drive then the average person would have been privileged to hear in their lifetime. Most of everything has always been crap but digital copying and cheap gear makes it possible to filter more gems from the dross than you can probably listen to. It has always been fashionable to compare whatever some consider the best of the last several decades to the last several months, ignore the nature of the comparison and bemoan modern music.
- We struggle to build a great wall of America because its a stupid measure to appease racists who think the brown people are coming for their country.
- To create and distribute the written word has never been cheaper. Imagine if you and I had to write hundreds of letters to all of the readers who have chanced across this thread!? To compare your preferred edition of the Christian bible solely to crappy self help books and ignore all the really good works out there is either ignorant or deceptive.
- Academia has never been pure. It's never been free of ignorance, bias, pride, liars, asshats of all stripes, outright stupidity. Science is the merely a method to gradually build upon existing human knowledge despite human foibles.
You believe your religion and its wisdom eternal only because you lack perspective. If the human race lasts thousands of years it will likely little resemble we poorer cousins as ill equipped as a 3 year old is to predict adulthood.
Open your eyes!
I met a traveller from an antique land,
Who said—“Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. . . . Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed;
And on the pedestal, these words appear:
My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings;
Look on my Works, ye Mighty, and despair!
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal Wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.”
We could keep talking past each other. Instead, let me short-circuit that and hand you the victory. All you need to reveal what a child and a fool I am is to recite my own Bible back at me:
"Do not say, 'Why were the old days better than these?' For it is unwise of you to ask about this." (Ecclesiastes 7:10)
Such an attitude makes us incapable of acting in the face of negative trends. For example, over a million species face risk of extinction right now. Do we have to wait until they are gone before we report on it and act?
(Also, the actual plot of the book was super annoying haha)
and in particular, this graph
It tries to take a purely boolean result of knowing the future, when the real power comes from increasing ones prediction odds ever so slightly. And all it takes is very small increases in ones own odds over the average to benefit heavily relative to blindly marching into the future.
> We need to start remembering that everybody who said that Y2K wasn’t a real problem was either shouted down, or kept off the air.
> But my point is, for pending legislation as with everything else, nobody knows the future.
> What will be the effect of electing a certain president, or a supreme court justice? Nobody knows.
If his focus was purely towards the charlatans who make predictions and keep getting it wrong with no accountability, I would agree. But he takes it a step further by seemingly emphasizing the futility of the very act of trying to foresee and head off potentially bad situations be it technical, legislative or political.
There was an enormous amount of money spent prepping for it years before 2000. In 1995, a few years after I graduated from college I got a moonlighting job cleaning databases for a UK phone company, manually editing 2 digit dates to 4 digit dates (I didn't know PERL existed at the time). Yeah, nothing major happened Jan 31 1999, but that's because there was a real, concerted effort to address it that wasn't trumpeted across the news media.
Not directed at you, I just needed to yell at a cloud.
This was 100% Chricton's persona for about the last 20 years of his life. Perhaps the most amazing thing was how deeply he was also into some really crazy new age stuff, too.
Dictionary definition of don't keep your mind so open that your brains fall out.
Indeed, his examples are comically telling: CNN and MSNBC but not Fox which had equivalent and bigger audiences.
But for our present time, I presume the point of resurrecting a 17 year old speech from a fiction writer is to further reduce confidence in a press that dare criticize the ruling party.
Can you expand on that? I presume you're talking about his book, "State of Fear". I guess "Andromeda Strain" could be in that category. I found most of his books interesting, educational and often insightful.
Even if he has written books that don't follow this pattern, Jurassic Park surely does; I'm not sure why you didn't mention it yourself
Some of his books have the premise that some scientists are short sighted and myopic, while others aren't. We can briefly talk about Jurassic Park the book, which I assume you have read. The movie shares only the most broad story arcs with the book.
....and I started typing a synopsis... https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jurassic_Park_(novel)#Plot_sum... is pretty good.
To your point: yes, there's a group of scientists that fucked up, and there's another group of scientists that are trying to honestly work things out.
I'd say the biggest antagonists in Jurassic Park are big corporate interests.
Upon reflection, aside from his first couple of books, that seems to be a common theme.
The the corporation and its scientists are tied together in that they try to predict the future, which as Crichton kindly explains, is completely impossible. The corporation believes that investing money will lead to profits later, and the scientists it employs believe that their safety measures and female-only population will prevent things from going wrong.
The "good" scientists only react to events in the past and the present; observing the dinosaurs as they are, taking action against immediate threats, and reconstructing the series of events that led to the catastrophe. The chaos mathematician may as well be a self-insert in the context of this article; he spends half his time explaining to people that nothing can ever be predicted, with mathematical "proof".
It hardly generalizes to everything Michael Crichton has written though.
No, that's an inaccurate and uncharitable summarization of his literary career. Scientists fucking up covers some of his more popular works accurately, Jurassic Park more than the rest, but other stories have the scientists/doctors working hard to save lives, or otherwise behaving admirably. Sphere has the scientists accidentally acquire godlike powers, only to willingly relinquish those powers for the greater good.
In fact, in several of his novels, including Jurassic Park, I think there is stronger anti-corporate sentiment than there is anti-science sentiment. The book makes clear that the problems at Jurassic Park are caused by a corporation cutting corners to turn a profit on a complex system before pausing to understand what they were dealing with. In the novel, the park owner John Hammond is consumed by dinosaurs. For whatever reason the movie let him live, and otherwise tuned down the anti-corporate angle. In the book his idiocy and greed made him a villain, but the movie makes him seem like a cuddly victim. In the book the two heroes are paleontologists (scientists) who were not to blame for the disaster but nevertheless behaved heroically in their attempts to mitigate harm.
A similar theme is found in Airframe though, which covers the interactions between a crash site investigator trying to find a truth that's inconvienent to the airline (that the pilot was to blame.) It could have been about aircraft engineers or aerospace scientists fucking up... but it wasn't. Disclosure and Rising Sun are controversial for their own reasons, but both have prominent anti-corporate themes.
Then there are the novels that seem unrelated to the discussion at all, like Eaters of the Dead which was a retelling of Beowulf from the perspective of an Arab traveler from Baghdad.
> Scientists fucking up covers some of his more popular works accurately, Jurassic Park more than the rest
To this I would add: one group of scientists are fucking up, but another group are trying to do the right thing.
“We need to start seeing the media as a bearded nut on the sidewalk, shouting out false fears. It’s not sensible to listen to it.»
*Despite Crichton's assertions, we do know some things about the future. The sun will come up tomorrow; soon it will be autumn and then winter (at least here in the northern hemisphere), and given the current atmospheric level of greenhouse gasses and the amounts being emitted, the earth will continue to warm beyond the current level. We can in fact very accurately model the amount of warming over the long term, although of course we can not precisely predict the day to day or even year to year changes, as there are a number of other factors that add randomness to the result over the short and medium term. To use an analogy, if I plug my bathtub drains and turn on the faucet, I can predict that absent some intervention there will be mopping in my future.
Those were problems that had economically viable solutions, and (relatively) short term impacts.
The same can unfortunately not be said of climate change.
Spectacularly wrong... by about 20 years.
Here's an analysis : https://www.tradepartnership.com/pdf_files/2002jobstudy.pdf , written in Feb 2003 (Tariffs were imposed in 2002, which was when NY times article was written https://www.nytimes.com/2002/03/06/us/bush-puts-tariffs-of-a...)
"We found that:
• 200,000 Americans lost their jobs to higher steel prices during 2002.
These lost jobs represent approximately $4 billion in lost wages from
February to November 2002.3
• One out of four (50,000) of these job losses occurred in the metal
manufacturing, machinery and equipment and transportation equipment and
• Job losses escalated steadily over 2002, peaking in November (at 202,000
jobs), and slightly declining to 197,000 jobs in December.4
• More American workers lost their jobs in 2002 to higher steel prices than
the total number employed by the U.S. steel industry itself (187,500
Americans were employed by U.S. steel producers in December 2002).
• Every U.S. state experienced employment losses from higher steel costs,
with the highest losses occurring in California (19,392 jobs lost), Texas
(15,826 jobs lost), Ohio (10,553 jobs lost), Michigan (9,829 jobs lost),
Illinois (9,621 jobs lost), Pennsylvania (8,400 jobs lost), New York (8,901
jobs lost) and Florida (8,370 jobs lost). Sixteen states lost at least 4,500
steel consuming jobs each over the course of 2002 from higher steel
• While insufficient data exist at this time to measure the precise role steel
tariffs played in causing such significant price increases, relative to the
other factors, it is clear that the Section 201 tariffs played a leading role in
pushing prices up. Steel tariffs caused shortages of imported product and
put U.S. manufacturers of steel-containing products at a disadvantage
relative to their foreign competitors. In the absence of the tariffs, the
damage to steel consuming employment would have been significantly
less than it was in 2002.
• The analysis shows that American steel consumers have borne heavy
costs from higher steel prices caused by shortages, tariffs and trade
remedy duties, among other factors. Some customers of steel consumers
have moved sourcing offshore as U.S. producers of steel-containing
products became less reliable and more expensive. Other customers
refused to accept higher prices from their suppliers and forced them to
absorb the higher steel costs, which put many in a precarious (or worse)
financial condition. The impact on steel-consuming industries has been
In making policy for the revitalization of manufacturing, including the steel
industry, our conclusions suggest that the effects across the full industrial
spectrum should be considered. The lessons of the impact of higher steel costs
should counsel a good deal of caution when import barriers are considered."
Oh and the chart they publish of prices from 2002 shows the following:
HR Sheet metal: went from about $220 to $300 ($ per ton) an increase of 36%
HD Galvanized metal: went from $330 to $460 an increase of 39%
CR Sheet metal: went from $305 to $405 an increase of 32%
You can see this unfolding right now. The New York Times Magazine, for instance, is currently running stories about slavery and plantations, and tying those into modern stories about race, justice, and capitalism, as part of its "Project 1619" which is explicitly about selling the narrative that USA culture is a slaver culture. This "hot takey" interpretation of American history is being promoted because it will sell more magazines than a more nuanced view of history.