Posts tagged ‘Gell-Mann Amnesia effect’

04/19/2012

Apparently being a reporter is the easiest job in the world

by wfgodbold

Because you don’t have to do research, or make sure you’re not just fabricating shit out of whole cloth, or anything else. You can just write whatever the hell you want, and CNN will publish it (H/T Tam). Presumably their “solution” to the “problem” will be some kind of ban on violent games*.

Too bad that’s unconstitutional.

Rock Paper Shotgun actually does real journalism in their piece on Brevik and his trial.

I’ve played video games, violent and nonviolent, for almost 25 years (The earliest games I remember playing were The Black Cauldron and Lords of Conquest). And yet, somehow, I have never killed anyone, never planned to kill anyone, never plotted world domination, or anything else. Just about every American in my generation can say the same.

Games are ubiquitous, and playing games is normal. The breathless media is just trying to gin up a controversy to stay relevant for a bit longer. If they keep publishing tripe like this, they’re more desperate than I thought.

This is another case where the Gell-Man Amnesia effect comes into play. If journalists can’t be bothered to do the due diligence required to print truthful information about a vile human being who killed nearly 80 people, why should we expect them to bother doing enough work to make sure their less consequential stories are truthful?

*Those are sarcasm quotes; banning wouldn’t be a solution, and violent games are no more a problem than rock music, D&D, or whatever the next generation will come up with to scandalize this one.

12/28/2011

Gell-Mann amnesia strikes again!

by wfgodbold

In his 2002 speech* “Why Speculate?” Michael Crichton brings up an interesting effect:

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.

The more widespread usage of the internet becomes, the more this effect’s prevalence becomes striking; I bring it up today because of the NYT’s attempt to paint North Carolina CCW holders as criminals.

Bob Owens comes to the same conclusions as Crichton.

I can attest to the same thing (and the more I learn about varied subjects, the more obvious the lack of competence becomes). Stories about guns are rarely correct. Stories about chemical engineering are likewise badly researched (journalism majors are bad at engineering? Go figure!). Stories about Japan are sometimes correct, but more often than not have a few factual errors. Reporting on any kind of video game is laughable. And I’m sure the more I learn about the law, the more ridiculous reporting on the law will become.

If you’re not interested in something in the first place, you’re not going to bother to make sure you get everything right (especially if you’re trying to push some kind of agenda).

The more the old media continues to push this kind of easily debunked nonsense, the more they make themselves irrelevant and hasten their inevitable demise.

*The link goes to the Wayback Machine because Crichton’s website no longer makes his speeches available. If you know what you’re looking for, you can still find classics like “Aliens Cause Global Warming,” though.

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