An interesting article in The Guardian today - News is bad for you – and giving up reading it will make you happier. It’s based on a book by Rolf Dobelli called the Art of Thinking Clearly.
Putting aside the irony of a newspaper producing an article that is saying that news is bad for you, it raises some interesting points.
Some of what it is saying is drawing on the same sources and thinking that have driven many of my Information Addiction posts, but it goes further to focus in on news itself:
We are not rational enough to be exposed to the press. Watching an airplane crash on television is going to change your attitude toward that risk, regardless of its real probability. If you think you can compensate with the strength of your own inner contemplation, you are wrong. Bankers and economists – who have powerful incentives to compensate for news-borne hazards – have shown that they cannot. The only solution: cut yourself off from news consumption entirely.
The article goes on to describe that:
- News misleads – making us irrational.
- News is irrelevant - of all of that news out there a tiny amount has any direct impact on us individually.
- News has no explanatory power – “News items are bubbles popping on the surface of a deeper world.”
- News is toxic to your body – by constantly triggering the limbic system and releasing cortisol.
- News increases cognitive errors – giving us confirmation bias. “In the words of Warren Buffett: “What the human being is best at doing is interpreting all new information so that their prior conclusions remain intact.”"
- News inhibits thinking – because it impacts our ability to concentrate.
- News works like a drug – something we’ve seen a number of times on this site.
- News wastes time – back to the point about relevance, if it’s not relevant why spend time on it.
- News kills creativity – “I don’t know a single truly creative mind who is a news junkie – not a writer, not a composer, mathematician, physician, scientist, musician, designer, architect or painter. On the other hand, I know a bunch of viciously uncreative minds who consume news like drugs.”
This is where I need to admit to being a bit of a news junkie, but also knowing that it’s not doing me any good.
You might have noticed that the amount I’ve been writing has dropped off in recent months, that’s partly because I’ve spent too much time focussing on the news interrupts and not enough time on thinking and reflecting. That’s partly down to a modern workplace challenge where immediacy is king, but it’s also down to my working habits.
How about you?