The Media and Gell-Man Amnesia

Ben Hunt from Epsilon Theory explains Gell-Man Amnesia with a great quote from Michael Crichton, who coined the term:

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 (1942-2008)

If you don’t trust the news with topics you know about, why should you trust them about topics you don’t know about? Don’t be naive. News media companies are not in the business of educating the public. They are in the business of creating narratives, even if they are not true.

Curate your media diet. Consume everything with a critical eye.

Photo by Roman Kraft on Unsplash
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