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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