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I highly recommend reading "The Myth of the Rational Voter: Why Democracies Choose Bad Policies" [1].

Even if polling shows a lack of discontent, it does not mean they were voting rationally. The emotional fear machine of terrorism will always sway towards totalitarianism policies. But if the majority of those citizens were honestly questioned about having their phones (and their entire families) monitored, I doubt they would be for it.

Irrationality and logical fallacies are flourishing on both ends of the spectrum (citizens and politicians), and there are few vocal voices in between correcting the bullshit.

What's missing are leaders (aka media) evaluating and promoting policies based on rationality reasoning rather than what emotional ploys that sell.

[1] http://www.amazon.com/Myth-Rational-Voter-Democracies-ebook/...




> What's missing are leaders (aka media) evaluating and promoting policies based on rationality reasoning rather than what emotional ploys that sell.

Leaders in media have no external incentive to promote rationality. They make money by appealing to their audience, to increase the size and loyalty of that audience.

There is no solution.


Don't make the news beholden to ratings.


News is a commercial product. Ratings represent the value of the program to advertisers as a measure of viewership, and the news exists as a way to generate those ratings. No ratings, no advertisers, no news. As with so many other forms of media, you are not the consumer, you're the product (or more specifically, the likelihood of your attention in those all important spaces between the segments.)

Unless you want the state to control everything, how do news organizations make the money they need to put on the broadcasts, if not with ratings? They have to sell something to somebody right? Should the US have a licensing system like they have in Britain?

There are newscasts on PBS but almost nobody watches them (I do, but then I used to work at a small PBS station) and tote bags can only get you so far.


I agree that it is a terrible system, but I literally can't think of a viable alternative. Information is so powerful, I'd say it deserves to be a fourth branch if government, except that it's power would quickly eclipse all others. As bad as Fox News is, I have no expectation that Gov News would be any better. And as long as we have the 1st, we'd still have Fox News anyway.

The best I could think of is tightening the reins through FCC licenses, revoking them for intentional deception (although good luck proving this in a way that can't backfire.)


But isn't that like telling people not to make money?


Wrong. Make the news so popular that ratings aren't even a question. You do this by educating your constituency.




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