No News is Good News


I think of The News as like the announcements made over The Tannoy System in The Prison Camp.

It’s a loud stream of misinformation, propaganda and general bullshit.

I started avoiding The News as a deliberate part of my approach to investing. The aim was to reduce market noise, predictions and prophets of doom.

Avoiding The News has definitely helped my investing. It helped me become a calm, long term buy and hold investor in the stock market. I gradually stopped thinking about whether now was a good time to sell and focused instead on getting on with more important things in life.

I used to think it was strange that Warren Buffett was a great investor and yet based himself in a small town far away from Wall Street with no Bloomberg terminal. Wrong! I had this backwards.  Warren Buffett became a great investor partly because he distanced himself from that noisy world.

Not only did turning off The News make me a better investor, its also had the surprising side effect of making me calmer and happier.

For a period of several years, I achieved a blissful state where I managed to tune out politics, gory murders, overseas wars, natural disasters, gossip, astrology and celebrity wardrobe malfunctions. But I must admit that, in the run-up to the 2019 UK general election, I tuned back in to political news. And what I saw was very strange.

A weird cult had taken over the left of politics. A strange mix of Momentum activists, Guardianistas and social justice warriors were pushing left wing ideologies that failed miserably in the 1970s…plus an added new twist of batshit crazy identity politics.

Cults are for losers. If you’re trapped by any form of dogma or ideology detached from reality, then you’re living in a mental prison of your own imagination.

The News media cultivates cults and echo chambers on both sides. It’s not just The Left. The print media in the UK has traditionally mostly been biased to the Right.

The News media is a player in the game of politics, not a neutral referee. The News media picks sides and helps their side push their favoured political narratives.

But it’s not just a left v right thing, it’s more complicated than that. The BBC is supposed to be politically neutral and generally does gives equal airtime to the two main political parties. But its coverage of Culture War issues is skewed because it’s put together by the liberal metropolitan elite whose privileged backgrounds and luxury beliefs mean that they think very differently to the bulk of the population.

Regardless of who “wins”, The Media benefits from political conflict. Sure, they frame it as high minded debate but angry arguments drive engagement and viewer stats. The reality is that most people can’t help but be gripped by what looks like a gladiator fight.

The Media is a competitive industry and they are fighting for attention, clicks and eyeballs. They know that fear is the most compelling hook and this is why they try to scare us. If it bleeds, it leads.

The problem is that The News is habit-forming as well as biased. It’s really tempting to consume the news brand that gives you your regular dose of confirmation bias. The risk is that we only hear one side of the story and an echo chamber gets formed.

The person that understands this better than anyone else I’ve come across is Scott Adams, the guy behind the Dilbert cartoon.

Here’s a short extract from his excellent book Loserthink.

How to know if you are in a cult

If you are a member of a cult, your leader is probably telling you crazy things and expecting you to believe them.

For example, if your leader is telling you to kill yourself so you can free your soul to live for eternity beneath a couch cushion, you might want to skip the next meeting.

But simply knowing that cults peddle falsehoods won’t help you determine if you are in a cult, because the press, politicians, spiritual leaders (except yours of course) and special-interest groups are brainwashing the public with falsehoods all the time.

Your favourite news source is almost certainly doing as much brainwashing as informing, but you probably think that sort of thing only happens to the sad bastards who make the mistake of consuming the wrong news sources.

If you’re human, confirmation bias and what you believe to be your “common sense” are identical in how they make you feel. That’s why I often say you can’t look at the past or even the present to know the truth about your reality, because it is easy to fit different theories to the same set of observations.

If you want to test the validity of your world-view, it isn’t good enough that the facts in evidence are consistent with your theory of events . Multiple theories can meet that standard. The only practical way to test your worldview is to see how well it predicts.

If you belong to a group whose interpretation of reality does a good job of explaining the past (or so it seems) yet is bad at predicting the near future, you are probably in a cult or something that acts like one.

As I write this chapter, the United States is grappling with several different interpretations of reality around the same set of observed facts: was President Trump a Russian asset or did the so-called Deep State try to frame him?

Both theories fit the observed facts available to the public. Constitutional law professor Jonathan Turley has suggested a third theory for consideration: that both sides of the topic are experiencing confirmation bias and there was neither Russian collusion nor Deep State conspiracy, just a lot of people believing in conspiracy theories. If you are keeping score at home, that makes three entirely different realities that all conform to the facts in evidence, at least according to the adherents of each. Obviously, most of the players in this drama believe that the people who disagree with them have the wrong interpretation of the facts.

If you have a preferred religious belief, keep in mind that billions of people practice other religions and they believe you are the one in the cult while they are the enlightened ones. My point is that knowing cults brainwash their members wont help you determine if you are in one. Brainwashing wouldn’t work if you knew it was happening to you. For the average person, confirmation bias will convince you that your group is the one that has life figured out while everyone else is flailing blindly.

And that perception will almost certainly be an illusion. Once you learn to embrace the realisation that being right and being wrong feel exactly the same, you’re halfway out of your mental prison.

Summary: Being absolutely right and spectacularly wrong feel exactly the same

The clearest signal you’re in a cult is that other members of the group actively try to prevent you from exchanging ideas with outsiders. For example, Democrats and Republicans increasingly avoid the company of the other, and the smart ones avoid talking in mixed company because it rarely ends well. One could make an argument that both Democrats and Republicans are evolving from whatever they once were to something closer to accidental cults that worship their preferred news sources and adopt the opinions assigned to them.

For the past several years, I have been writing about American politics using what I call a persuasion filter. Through that work, and the interesting people I have recently met, I have learned things about the true nature of reality that are so startling that you wouldn’t believe me if I told you.

We can test that assumption because I’m going to tell you right now: there are only about a dozen people in the United States – perhaps 6 on the political right and six on the political left – who decide what the public thinks about politics. That small group routinely influences how the news is framed and the rest of the pundits simplify amplify the messages and brainwash the public through repetition. I’m sure you have noticed the sameness in how pundits handle their respective narratives on the left and the right. None of that is an accident. A handful of influencers create the framing for stories and the public believes.

If you believe the news you consume is organic and unbiased, you might be less of an informed citizen than the accidental member of a cult, but without the bad haircut requirement.

Summary: If your view of reality is consistent with the past but fails to to a good job predicting the near future, you might be in a cultlike organisation with a manufactured worldview. If members of your group discourage you from listening to opposing views, its time to plan your escape.

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  1. arcyallen · · Reply

    “It’s just that the cult aspect of the Left is particularly striking right now.”

    Agreed. Both sides have their cultish aspects, but the left seems to be screaming about theirs while the right is busy being quiet about theirs.

  2. BuyInTheDip · · Reply

    Nice article.

    The left seem to be based on the principle of things being easy. For example, “The NHS is in crisis, let’s throw more money at it” or “Free broadband for all!”.

    In the right world it seems to be the opposite – bloody hard. For example, study hard, work hard, take risks, achieve (or fail but keep moving) and enjoy the good results.

    I am in the later camp as this attitude has served me well. I’ve had to give my kids counterpoints, who have leftist dogma stuffed down their throat at school where “no one can be a loser”.

    Cannot help but feel if there is not an element of “hardness” in our lives we will regress as a society.

    Remind me , we are the good guys, right?

  3. Hmm… Was that Aung San Suu Kyi in the video next to MLK?

    1. Yeah she’s a baddie now. For years she was a goodie but it turned out she’s just a baddie. Running a country as the first democratically elected official in decades and carefully attempting to manage the huge vested interests of a powerful military which is breathing down your neck and ethnic tensions that have been held down for decades by military oppression and yet still not being able to instantly turn your underdeveloped country into the very model of modern, western liberal democracy that the western media and power groups expect means you are definitely definitely a baddie. MLK would be mortified.

  4. well, the human mind set (mindset) is to always be part of some Tribe/Club/Entity, as a basic survival instinct. We simply are wired like that. Once you get to understand that, you find a lot of good answers on the question ‘why this, why that ?’. Poly-tics etc are just results from that tribe joining brain wiring that has been put in your flesh computer processor up there by species evolution / selection mechanisms. After all, when our ancestors in the savanna were roaming around alone, they got eaten up. End of story for that asocial human. The ones living in a tribe or clan, could fuck around, and survival rates increased tremendously, from shared protection / experiences / mix of various capabilities. And the smartest tribe always won out, because the ones with the highest human numbers but with backwards or no “technology” and “systems” lost to the more “evolved” ones, which would get far more things done with far less expensed “whatever”. Now excuse me, I have to go waste my precious remaining time on this earth replying on some bloke’s blog post, bloke who’s pissed off on some arcane subject that nobody in the world gives a fuck about . . .

  5. This phenomenon isn’t just happening on mainstream media, but on social media and all media networks, but especially within mainstream media networks. The information gerrymandering is presently on overdrive, which is brainwashing the masses and fuelling the divide.

    The divide appears to be between “establishment” vs. “anti-establishment”, where anti-establishment has the 2-1 advantage among the people, and thus the MSM gerrymandering modus operandi is to “flip” the vote, or sentiment among this demographic back into balance with the establishment agenda.

    In this sense establishment interests have a massive advantage and utilise technology to shape public opinion against their own interests. Mainstream media is nothing more than a 24/7 propaganda campaign to keep the public to in line, and keeping things in a perpetual nanny-known-best control system, with people who have more in common than not bashing each other., effectuated in practice via the interests of globalism.

    We might define the “establishment,” then, as a duel party system that swings to and fro between ideological left and right in rhetoric only, but which is driven ultimately by a single underlying agenda that has nothing to do with the political right or left, but shaped by and for the interests of Big Pharma, Big Tech, the military industrial complex, and corporate globalism.

    In its present iteration, the political right has embraced the anti-establishment narrative. The left–and MSM–has embraced the establishment. The establishment, as defined above, represents the minority, but this demographic can secure a majority of votes and the public opinion by co-opting the left and via the efforts of information gerrymandering.

    The entire process is a psyop that confuses people and renders the political psyche of the average observer, no matter what their political leanings, to a state of cognitive dissonance and confusion.

    1. Anyone who has had a flight delay and read every inch of every page of every newspaper knows that every paper has the same news just different headlines and bold. Print.

      TV free for about 10 years and all the better for it. The media ultimately is a waste of your amygdala and it’s better to life a gentler life.

  6. […] अपेक्षा करणे खूप जास्त आहे का? न्यूज मीडिया त्यांच्या नाटकातील प्रत… (त्यांच्या व्यवसायासाठी हे छान आहे). […]

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