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Avoid News: Towards a Healthy News Diet (2010) [pdf] (gwern.net)
151 points by andreev_io on Nov 2, 2019 | hide | past | favorite | 115 comments

> Out of the approximately 10,000 news stories you have read in the last 12 months, name one that.. allowed you to make a better decision about a serious matter affecting your life, your career, your business – compared to what you would have known if you hadn’t swallowed that morsel of news.

That's what got me to stop keeping up to date with most news a few years ago and I've been happier for it.

Being more charitable on why news is important though, news serves as modern day gossip, and gossip may play a key role in holding human societies together.


A lot of news stories in the past year have given me definitive direction in terms of how to spend my time politically. How to vote, which meetings to go to (redistricting, canvassing, etc.) More generally, I think they’ve all contributed to my mental models of the world.

I wouldn't consider those to be matters affecting your life, career or business. They're really just interacting the news, like a hobby. Without the news, you wouldn't be interested in those things, and as a bonus, you wouldn't have the common (ie fairly useless) yet distorted mental models of the world that it gives people.

I have a more concrete example. Around the year 2000 I finished a computer science degree and was doing postgraduate in another subject. But it was getting boring and I decided to quit. My professor asked what I'd do next. I told him the plan I'd had all along - fall back on my CS degree and get a job as a programmer. What I didn't know, because I didn't read the news, was that the dot com crash had just happened and you couldn't get a job as a programmer. So I didn't, and spent a year or two unemployed.

> I wouldn't consider those to be matters affecting your life, career or business. They're really just interacting the news, like a hobby.

Knowing enough to vote sensibly is a duty of a citizen. It has a direct impact on everybody’s life in a more or less diffuse way, and for many people it is a matter of life and death. You’re right though that the direct benefit to an individual’s life is on average not significant, in most cases the time could be more profitably spent on developing yourself or those around you. Although that assumes that everyone else does their duty and maintains a reasonable political environment for those opting out to live in. It’s a tragedy of the commons, individuals acting purely in their interests will over time destroy the common space, unless we impose on ourselves and others a duty to maintain it.

If your aim is to vote responsibly, then the news is a poor place to get information to help you decide. Not just because of the obvious political biases, but choice of stories they lead you to believe are important. Sex scandals, he-said-she-saids, or some crime that gets all the attention for weeks while numerous other similar crimes are ignored. A lot of really unimportant gossip magazine type stories that have little to do with reality other than being cherry-picked from it. The news does a poor job of reporting honestly on dry boring information that has significant impact. Instead, it picks stories that it presents as important but in fact are chosen because they're engaging. An obvious example is the over-reporting of terrorism compared to car accidents. People vote on terrorism because the TV told them it's important and didn't say much about something boring like bad marriages or poor risk evaluation skills that silently ruin people's lives on a massive scale.

You can use Wikipedia instead. Look up wars, statistics about crime, cost of living, a law that you've been affected by, or whatever is important to you, as decided by you, not pushed into your head by the news. There are enough people voting according to what the TV told them is important that you're not really making things better by adding yourself to their ranks.

Doesn't your example show how disadvantaged you were because you didn't keep up with the news? It surely affected your livelihood.

I guess OP doesn't need the news to figure out political candidates' positions.. or does s/he, since most political websites are just lies and empty promises. Choosing between e.g. the pro-environment or pro-coal candidate will surely have an effect on our lives in 20 years' time. Or one who wants to deploy a police state and harass all non-whites, or all "hippie weed smoker" types, etc..

He gave one example of where following news that directly affects your livelihood is useful. This is one of the reasons I’m on HN. The incessant NYTimes, Guardian and medium.com brain rot really do push me away though.

The fact that the news might be necessary to obtain such info strikes me as a bug not a feature. We shouldn't need media(tion) between would-be politicians and citizenry. Perhaps quaint and impractical now, but I wish we still lived in an era where politicians literally went from town to town and yelled their pitches directly to citizens in the town square.

I don't see the harm in just reading what politicians promise. My city recently had a local election. Each candidate got to write a paragraph about themselves. I read them all looking for a few key points that I felt were important, and came up with a shortlist. Then excluded a few because of less important things until I had enough candidates (6) to vote for. Pretty easy. No news required. I purposely tried to ignore their advertisements in the street that were uniformly saying "Vote for me because no reason but look at my face!"

Well I'll give a counter example. After the dot com crash and the offshoring hype, I was discouraged from getting a job in programming and so I didn't until much, much later. And if you look at the number of CS grads by year you'll note there was a significant dip in number of grads after the dot com crash and it took more than a decade for the numbers to recover.

Alternatively, instead of passively ingesting information in the hopes that it will be useful to you, as soon as you decided you wanted to get a programming job you could have done a quick google search to learn about the state of the industry.

I believe that improving your ability to think critically and find information quickly when you need it will benefit you infinitely more than spending that time on watching the news.

I had to truly realize that content creators need to optimize towards squeezing as much screen (life) time as possible out of me. And they started doing this openly, ignoring their moral doubts (see reviews for the ‘classic’ “Hooked”).

Most web news is shallow distraction, aiming at emotionalising and validating since it seems more addictive then, and I realized I stay sufficiently up-to-date without actively accessing it.

I still listen to news radio occasionally before sleep.

Which "Hooked" are you referring to? There are several. Author / producer?

There's a film, though ... I don't think you had that in mind.


And numerous books:


Likely "Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products"[1] by Nir Eyal

[1] https://www.nirandfar.com/hooked/

Yes, this one.

Slightly off topic: His latest book is about avoiding distractions, featuring advice like “tell yourself that you have to burn a 100$ bill if you don’t do it”. His Twitter profile counts 54k tweets and 211k likes. Seems like his advice for app development backfired on him.

Thanks, seems likely.

I also stopped reading/listening/watching mainstream news a couple of years ago, and I'm glad I did.

Almost all news is extremely negative - I tired of being bombarded with images of war and famine, squabbling politicians, and celebrity body-shaming. The worst of it was the futility of it - what purpose did this serve other than to anger and depress me and push me towards a particular political narrative? I can't stop the USA bombing hospitals, terrorists bombing whoever, plagues or famines; I can't fix our broken political system or prevent mass-surveillance.

I can't ignore news entirely of course - I still read HN, still see snippets on Twitter, still hear conversations etc. But stopping purposely consuming mainstream news is honestly one of the best choices I've ever made.

It's an avenue for social coordination. The benefit of having a hive mind is that you get to have a hive.

I wish there was an email list/rss feed specifically for people that only want news for the gossip value. Only the really high level stuff that everyone is talking about. Written as if the reader lacks the context of having been following all the other news on the issue. If it's a story that's divisive then it breaks talking points down by sides. Just everything you need to be able to pretend like you give a shit and empathise with your in group.

I don't mean a weekly summary. They have way too much shit in them and the format doesn't make sense because every week isn't equally as interesting. Ten huge things that make you look like an idiot for not knowing about don't happen every week. One just happens every so often. Send me an email then. About that one topic. Nothing happened? Don't send anything.

Isn't there a whole chapter devoted to that in Sapiens?

Yup, that's where I first encountered the idea.

What stopped me from keeping up with the news was noticing it being off whenever I knew a lot about the topic in question.

Ranging from glaring errors to subtle phrasing that may be technically correct, but insinuates something else, to -what I can only presume- spark outrage and thus increase “engagement”.

I can only assume similar discrepancies across every topic.

>”Briefly stated, 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 - Why Speculate: http://docdro.id/4wgVecr

Thanks. An excellent companion piece to the OP.

This is why I just read/watch primary sources on things I don't know about.

Don't know much about the Syrian conflict? Time to immerse myself in reading translated documents and watching videos from the ground.

Don't know much about Medicare for All? Skim some of the actual bill, read actual speeches by politicians.

It's all much more informative than reading the same news article with a slightly different spin in 5 different outlets.

Primary sources can be amazing, but a lot of them aren't written with the general public in mind: they can be a slog to get through.

As an example for a trustworthy primary source I really like the youtube channel for the dutch safety investigation board. They are a primary source as they do their own research, but the videos they produce are mostly designed to inform politicians of the result of their research. This means they are made in plain language and are easy to consume. I can heartily recommend having a look at their channel.[0] There's plenty of videos that have an english version, mostly for internationally relevant topics.

Of course it is a state sponsored source, but as far as I can tell they have no political lean, and the only input the state has as far as I can tell is to task them with what to research. Everyone should do their own evaluation on their trustworthiness of course.

Other than that I haven't found many primary sources that I actually enjoy so if anyone has any suggestions for primary sources or ways to discover good primary sources that'd be greatly appreciated.

[0] https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC8YTCQ5-kR3aqaUwyUk1Sig/vid...

It's unreasonable for most to go entirely without news. A good compromise is to get your news edited and curated.

I highly value having subscribed to The Economist for a couple of decades now. I try to avoid real-time news and read The Economist once a week to get global news. The weekly tempo reduces the need for the publisher to rush out an opinion on something that recently happened.

I know The Economist has biases. I think I understand most of these biases and take them into account.

I wish there were similar options for local news.

It’s one thing to read a piece and know the editor’s biases so you can take them into account. It’s another thing entirely when the biases lead to a story going unpublished. How do you account for selective reporting?

As somebody who plays a similar game with magazines (physical copies of New Yorker, Wired, Nautilus, and others), I don’t think one can realistically account for it, regardless of how wide and diverse your news diet is. At some point enough is enough, and it’s practically up to each of us to draw those lines for ourselves.

For example, it’s not possible to get local news this way (unless you live in a HUGE city), because local news is selectively ignored by major publications. For special interest items (tech, travel, food, cultural things) one can add a more special interest source (like Wired, or random blogs) to your selection, but those kinds of sources are usually more difficult to get in physical, weekly or monthly form; newsletters and podcasts are a godsend here.

You can also overcome the blindspots by occasionally browsing less formal sources like Reddit and Hn, but even those can be more of a trap than it’s worth ime, and provide their own very false senses of all-knowledge.

To put it another way, the blind spot shoots both ways. I can’t enumerate all of the fascinating things I’ve learned reading those magazines that I would never have encountered any where else. I’m not sure if there’s an optimal solution here, it might be to each their own. :P

A reasonably concise set of counterveiling souces is better.

Since biase exists not only in discussion and presentation, but in selection, finding voices which are specifically counter to the Economist's mission (promotion of free market principles, as stated in its prospectus), would also be quite useful.

I'd recommend a labour/socialist counter, as well as environmental and underprivileged / non-power elite (by culture or world regions) set of voices as well.

This doesn't mean opening the floodgates, but countering groupthink.

And how do you counter the sources that you recommended?

+1 for the economist

Also, try the FT.

I think there is a deep dilemma associated with the news today. On the one hand, it is hard to be informed when the news contains so many lies, much of what you learnt from it just isn't true. The very consumption of it is adjusting your mental state and making you anxious and less productive and those responses maybe to something that isn't even true. But on the other hand, it is impossible to be informed if you don't read the news.

I know I was a lot more productive when I didn't care about the news and didn't watch any TV shows. I don't think you are a functioning adult unless you know the major goings-on of the world. People talk about the news a lot and it's important for those interactions even if it is little more than gossip. I think swapping quite a lot of the consumption of the low-quality news with books and other hobbies is something we ought to all do and spend news consumption on the higher quality publications as a decent middle ground between cold turkey and continuous consumption of nonsense.

> it is impossible to be informed if you don't read the news

being informed is not as valuable when there's more content out than you could consume in several lifetimes

what's valuable is how to derive any value from it

just an opinion

I guess my argument is the value derived from the news is to fit in with everyone else. It gives you a common grounding of the worlds going on, it isn't going to enable you to solve science or technology problems but it will help enable relationships. Without it, you lose an important connection to those around you.

You could say the same thing about sports or Kim Kardashian, or you could just not care and focus on things that actually interest you. That seems like an even more mature choice (hence functional adult).

+1 “” what's valuable is how to derive any value from it””

That is the money comment. What value per unit of time, with bad health affects from triggering tension, for news gorging.

That was great, just sent the link to a few friends and my wife.

The article is over eight years old, but in modern times, timeless advice.

News addiction is a very real sickness. Just as I would prefer my friends to maintain privacy online, I would prefer my friends to not waste their energy and power by gorging on news. Like the article said, news is to the brain what sugar is to the body.

I disagree that people aren’t tuning out of news. I talk to people in real life that keep news at a distance. They don’t want to engage, they know it’s a black hole anxiety inducing clickbait. It seems a common topic of discussion is our parents who get get off cable news or being fed up with political twitter/Facebook and deciding to no longer use social media because of news.

There’s a great article from NY Times about “The America That Isn’t Polarized” people not sucked into the correct news, just doing their jobs (https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.nytimes.com/2019/09/24/upsh...)

Are the people interviewed in that article role models that we should all aspire to emulate? The takeaway seems to be that those with less education and more economic stress don’t pay as much attention to politics.

A good little summary. Unfortunately, the author, Rolf Dobelli stole much of it verbatim from Taleb, something Taleb does not like:


In the spirit of the article itself, who cares?

He said Taleb was a friend, maybe he gave permission to copy? And even if not and he stole it, how is that relevant? It’s a good long form article with a clear message that is all the more beneficial the more widely it is read.

Taleb cares most directly, so that matters.

I also think that plagiarism is a detriment for society as it presents knowledge grounded on a lie. So it poisons knowledge’s ability to help, I think.

I remember sharing this manifesto when it came out years ago. However, I’m glad I came to read this thread now because I had no idea it was so blatantly plagiarised!

Damn that's not even subtle

It's frustrating how difficult it can be to escape the news, which is almost always some political outrage. Almost every remote server I log into has MSNBC set as the default homepage for the browser. Which means even while at work I'm treated to political outrage. It only takes a second to close but the exposure has already been done. And then there are all manner of public spaces that have some cable news channel babbling on. Same for restaurants. Can't even escape it at sports bars now that sports channels have become political operations. Hiking seems to be the best way to escape it.

I remember that - spinning up a remote and there's MSNBC showing some outrage... seriously traumatic ones in some cases. And in keeping with one of the points made in this article, I don't remember what they were! But I do remember thinking "Jeez there are probably people out there just letting themselves be bombarded with this" and feeling pity and a little bit of contempt for them. But then there are plenty of outrages reported here on HN too - enough to make you start believing everything has been breached/exploited, your every move is under surveillance, etc.

OT: what's the context for remote servers having browsers configured to specific news sources? This strikes me as bizarre.

May mean the MSN homepage. IE, maybe Edge (dunno) could have those set as the default.

Yes, that's correct. For most Windows Server boxes, everything is designed to work in IE and it is guaranteed to exist on the box. MSN is Microsoft's choice as the default homepage for their browsers and MSN, or at least the page that is the default homepage, is typically stuffed with articles and photos chosen to solicit engagement, usually thorough provoking outrage. It has no place in a business environment. Boxes under my control, which aren't many, get duckduckgo set as the homepage.

I also didn’t know why a remote server would have news on it. The worlds of Linux and Windows server administration are so far apart as to be unrecognizable to each other.

Does anyone suggest how to peruse news that is very specific to demographics? For example, my parents are green card holders and I'm a first generation immigrant. I'd like to know ASAP any news about government policy changes about immigration in my country.

Similarly, I'd like to know ASAP any news about government policy changes about the treatment of LGBTQIA+ people. Where would I go for that?

Really, I think the 'news diet' thing is for a specific demographic of people that aren't directly influenced by relatively subtle and potentially not-widely-disseminated news.

In Germany I've seen a forum for people trying to get their permanent residencies, someone would post a question and get expert answers, even quoting the relevant laws. I'd imagine there is a section there for "Stuff that's new"..

There used to be "news clipping services" that physically clipped out news articles from news papers and sent them to you. They still exist but are digital now, a google turned up quite a few, though they don't seem cheap.

I completely agree. Those that can go on a news diet are either privileged or indifferent.

If you have aging parents who are on ACA, you want to be informed about any upcoming changes or what a new president cound bring to the table.

If someone you know is struggling mightily with student loans, you'll want to know if there's any relief coming soon. My skeptical SO would say, "but what's the point? Are you going to be able to change anything?" No. But it's about empathy and basic humanity. You want to know what might be in store for those that you care for, even if you can't influence the outcome one bit.

I know people that are DACA recipients. Will they be ok in the near future?

Again, I think it comes down to empathy.

I long for a dedicated curated positive and good news channel only. There are so many things happening in the world that help humanity and can be reported in a positive and healthy manner. Perhaps Alexa or google news can just read out snippets of “feel good” news only and skip all the sensational,policitcal or celebrity gossip.

The other main point is that there is no need for urgent breaking news likes it’s shoved down 24x7 nowadays. Consume your news slowly in time, newspapers were great, you get a 24 hour period to collect thoughts and read well edited and concise news only that you can pick and choose over a Nice cup of tea !!! You don’t need to know what’s happening ASAP most of the time for all other local emergencies ,weather etc perhaps alerts from local news station apps or appropriate twitter feeds can help.

This sounds like an AI whose value target is concise truth. In a perfect world, I would really like that feed.

I think the closest we got was in the late 90s Google was heading toward this with their “organize the world’s information and make it useful.” Then they pivoted to “organize the world’s information and make it useful to us to profit” and noticed that outrage makes more money than truth.

One thing that really demoralized me for reading news is I read some political books from the early 70s and realized that the themes, politics and controversies haven't changed since then. It's all the same stuff over and over again. Nothing ever get's resolved.

The author says the most important thing to happen in politics in the last 40 years is Watergate. You could even go without knowing what that was and do just fine.

Sure, because the kind of invasion of privacy and corrupt practices our intelligence agencies engage in today makes Watergate look like child's play.

Political news can be amusing if you take it the right way. There is no practical need to follow political news until the last few weeks before an election.

Intermittent fasting from political and financial news is a good thing. Business news and sci/tech news are more positive and stimulating anyway.

You should participate politics, even with small effort, not just watch it. The biggest misunderstanding of democracy is that it's just voting. It's also organizing and discussion and lobbying/pressuring.

And following politics only during elections is also wrong advice. It's enough to follow issues weekly or monthly, not daily. Following politicians is less important than following the issues.

I think that representative democracy works, while direct democracy has very mixed track record. Generally the public should not be weighing in on issues.

The problem is that the public doesn't have the attention, interest or background to address more than a small number of issues. The issues that they do address are not necessarily important ones, but ones that the editorial boards of mass media think will attract eyeballs and sell ad space. The discussion is then led by special interest groups that are funded by interested parties. The result is a lot of heat among some narrow segment of the population but not much useful work.

This is absolutely the best advice I've come across in a long time. In this day and age where news are used predominantly to manipulate our political views by the major media, this piece is particularly relevant.

> this day and age...

The manufacturing of consent has been going on since the corporate monopolisation of newspapers in the early 20th century, but arguably news media has always had an agenda.

Before they were killed off I’m sure the labour class media organisations had an agenda that was pro-labour class.

You can never really escape agenda driven media you just have to be a knowledgeable, critical media consumer so you can derive information even from those with antagonistic agendas.

For example, Chomsky still thinks it’s important to read The New York Times and check out CNN.

Even earlier than that. Check out this article about fake news in the days of George Washington: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/retropolis/wp/2017/04/10...

If you’re worried about missing out on a topic, you can always set a series of Google Alerts for keyword terms to stay in the loop. You’ll also get a wider variety of sources and opinions.

Thoreau: "Read not the Times; read the Eternities. Conventionalities are at length as bad as impurities. Even the facts of science may dust the mind by their dryness, unless they are effaced each morning, or rather rendered fertile by the dews of fresh and living truth."

When important truths can be partial truths, then -- as with the posted article -- we can be bold in their statement.

I’m reminded of the concept of the “50-year Newspaper”. A imagined newspaper only published every 50 years and only containing the most important stories of that span of time.

Almost everything in the news is here today gone tomorrow and as the article points out, what seems important nearly never is.

In the words of Rob Wiblin, news media today is a dumpster fire.

His point No. 5, 11, 12 are particularly important to people trading financial markets. It's such a common occurrence that when bad news hit the wire, market goes up afterward. The investing proverb says, buy on rumor and sell on news. That's exactly what this guy is saying.

There is good news tonight.


"Heatter was already well known for trying to find uplifting but absolutely true stories to feed his commentaries. (He was especially known for a fondness for stories about heroic dogs.)"

Try reading Congressional Research Service reports,they often provide quality/topical info.

This reminds me of an article written by Aaron Swartz: http://www.aaronsw.com/weblog/hatethenews

And yet now there is a link at the bottom telling us to follow the author on Twitter. That's like swearing off pot for heroin.

Author's a known [1] plagiarist though

[1] https://www.fooledbyrandomness.com/dobelli.htm

How selfish do you have to be not to be informed. You have to be a white rich industrialized man that is isolated from the rest of the world completely for his whole liglife

I dont understand anything about this comment

Now replace the word news with social media and you get a new valid document.

I’m frankly conflicted. Ignoring news seems good for my mental health. But is it really the news? Or is it the reality? For example when you dig into the Trump administrations policies or behaviors it’s usually MORE horrifying than imagined.

What if the house really is in fire and we all just want to be in denial about it by conveniently ignoring news? We’d rather work on the familiar: our own wealth and personal fulfillment than face the real problems out there?

I don’t doubt the clickbait attention grabbing monstrosity is real, but what if the horrifying nature of the reality is more important for for us to know than our mental health? What if we need to focus on the crises society faces rather than our own personal needs?

This is an arrogant privileged position to just ignore what is going on around you. This is at best ignoring the trampling of rights of the weakest of our society and at worst being an active colluder in such acts.

Is it really? 99.9% of the people who read the news do nothing to use that in any way to fight for the weakest in our society. For most, news is nothing but a list of topics for small talk. A few work towards using it to understand topics and make informed decisions. Even fewer actually act on anything they hear in the news directly.

One thing a lot of people do, even if they're not politically active, is discuss their concerns with others.

That may inform others and possibly even change their minds on important issues.

So even if you're not out there marching in protests or volunteering for your favorite political organization, you can still make a difference by informing others.

The effect of this is evident on HN, which used to be almost exclusively a navel-gazing tech and startup news site, but has over the years become more politically aware.

I believe that things like the recent tech employee moves towards unionizing, and various protests at companies like Google are partially motivated by information employees at these companies received on sites like HN, where important political topics are discussed and people are informed.

Sticking one's head in the sand by ignoring news makes it less likely that you'll ever be motivated to do anything yourself and less likely you'll help motivate anyone else to act either.

> 99.9% of the people who read the news do nothing to use that in any way

Wouldn't that imply that we don't live in a democracy and ppl are picking boxes at random at the ballot box?

1) I don't need to keep up with the news at all ~355 days/yr to be an adequately informed voter. It's not like it takes that long to google a candidate and some issues and catch up on what you missed.

2) If we're going the informed-voter justification, we'd be much (for large values of "much") better off if everyone took 99% of the time they spend on news and instead read foundational works and textbooks in political science, economics, comparative politics, ethics, statistics, history, and government in [home country], with maybe a smidge of modern policy pieces (e.g. think-tank stuff, policy studies, that kind of thing).

> keep up with the news at all ~355 days/yr

Is that what the article is discussing though?

The thing is, news consumption correlates with partisanship. Your news addicts are the least likely to actually change their mind at the ballot box with all of that 'information'.. it's doing them remarkably little good besides feeding dopamine receptors on a regular schedule.

No. There are many sources that inform people's choices at the ballot box, i.e. their parents, education, books, and life experience.

One of my close friend coming out as gay in high school has had a larger effect on who I have voted for during my lifetime than any news.

What can you point to that demonstrates a correlation between spending a lot of time consuming mainstream media news, and undertaking actions that improve the lives of the downtrodden?

Is it not possible that by spending less time/energy on the sensationalism of corporate news, we can spend more time and energy observing, contemplating and addressing the actual problems in the world?

Get off your high horse.

Not reading the news does not equate to ignoring what’s going on around you.

Reading the news does not necessarily help the trampled.

> Not reading the news does not equate to ignoring what’s going on around you.

how so?

> Get off your high horse.

no need to be rude here.

How so?

It takes active measures to not hear about what’s new. No one here is advocating that.

Researching an issue is not “reading news”. Debating current events is not “the news”. Understanding the world is not “the news”. Going on strike is not “the news”.

It’s craving the next hit of shallow information that is poison.

> shallow information

Article doesn't define news as such. He estimates that about 10% of news is legitimate.

> Debating current events is not “the news”

So.. your "debates" are "deep" and everything else is "shallow".

Get off your high horse.

> This is an arrogant privileged position

No need to be rude here, either.

because i am describing the position as "arrogant privileged" vs GP who is describing me as a person on "high horse".

Given people's ideas are generally a large part of their identity, calling someones idea "arrogant privileged" is pretty equivalent to calling the person "arrogant privileged".

Author defines himself based the belief that news gives ppl illusion of caring ? lol

Its possible he doesn't have such ridiculous self identity. correct ? In which case my comment was not rude.

> Author defines himself based the belief that news gives ppl illusion of caring ? lol

No. It's pretty clear that if you read any of article at all, you didn't read beyond the first few paragraphs. Please in the future refrain from sharing your opinion on articles you didn't even read.

It's also pretty clear that discussing this further would be pointless. Perhaps because you've formed part of your identity around being someone who consumes the news, so any attack on that idea, you take as a personal attack. ;)

I didn't "attack" anyone. Also in future stop pretending to be a moderator of HN and going around telling ppl what to do.

Yes. There’s a grounded argument for choosing quality over quantity, reading news on a short delay instead of at every notification, choosing a limited number of trustworthy sources—basically the opposite of what social media encourages you to do.

But deciding to opt out entirely is kind of like dropping out of high school because you won the lottery. Can you get away with it? Maybe, for a while. Are you ignorant because if it? Of course.

You can 'get away' for as long as you like.

I stopped consuming news years ago.

The only way it reaches my conscious is if:

1) friends or family mention something (or anyone else within my social circle). Fair game. This helps me understand their thinking patterns too. Very helpful to see what they find important.

2) retweets. If I'm following someone who is retweeting low quality news I immediately block.

I don't feel anxious, when I go to the barbers and everyone is staring at the TV in the top corner, it reminds me of why I stopped.

Gyms are evil that play general trashy news on TV.

On the whole, you are not ignorant if you don't consume the news, not by any standard.

Don't believe that one bit.

P.s great handle.


Agreed about the TVs. I never understood why so many places have it running in the background all day long.

Now we have Facebook and Netflix for passive consumption.

To wash your brain.

> On the whole, you are not ignorant if you don't consume the news, not by any standard.

I don't mean this in an insulting way, but aren't you ignorant (by definition) of current events if you don't read/hear about them?

Ignorant of current events but not ignorant generally. Most news is not worth me knowing.

But how will you decide which is worth knowing if you never look? I get why you may want to take it in at a slower pace than a social media feed, but it seems like there's no way to tell what's worth knowing if you "stop consuming news".

The idea here isn't if one should consume mainstream news and make decisions on what is relevant.

99% is irrelevant Decision fatigue Generally crap stuff Unhealthy Chips away on your perspective

Better to vet individual publications and consume at really moderate rates, for example, the economist, pointed out in the paper.

If it matters to my work I’ll find out about it through industry channels or coworkers. If it matters to my family/community/area I’ll hear about it from local interactions.

> I’ll hear about it from local interactions

Why is the medium of acquisition of news important here, seems like an irrelevant distinction. How can one be 'Ignorant of current events' if he is acquiring said current events through coworkers/locals.

This is precisely what I was referring to in my original comment. Not everyone has the privilege to leave safety of their family to random happenstance local interactions. eg: My wife's grand parents are on greencard and unenrolled themselves from one govt service based on recent news about being a public charge. Some ppl are constantly on the edge to leave it to 'local interactions'

> if it matters to my family/community/area I’ll hear about it from local interactions.

Reading only relevant news is still reading news.

I’m talking about reading and consuming news as Dobelli is describing it, not avoiding new info at all costs.

Spot on.

Anything that will impact your life will be filtered through.

> will be filtered through.

How are you so sure it will ? It might not. correct?

If it affects your life, you’ll become aware of it eventually. By definition.

It’s surely possible that something could occur that has repercussions for your life, to where you would have preferred to be aware of it ahead of time. But I can only think of 1 time in my 40 years when that’s happened with any significance. Hardly worth making myself an anxious wreck trying to constantly “be informed”. No matter how diligent one tried to keep pace, you’d never be certain of catching everything anyway.

Ignorance of “current events” is a good thing when what is presented as an “event” is largely a twisted, biased misrepresentation of truth.

Far easier to see the bull for what it is when you’re not acclimated to being deceived 99% of the time.

It seems like news has given you the illusion of caring as mentioned in section 14. Did you read that far? ;)

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