Beyond News

Importance: 8
Confidence level: 6
Length: 3000 words

Tl;dr: most people are not wary enough of news’ negatives, are a little too nonchalant (not chalant enough?) about the material they choose to spend so many hours of their life reading, and may be lacking in good alternative sources.

True to the tagline, this blog is concerned heavily with learning about the world in a more effective, efficient manner. There are many good sources of information in the world; oddly, mainstream news, tasked solely with being a good source of information, is not one of them.

I originally wrote this as an invective against news before I realized that had been done already. No need to clutter the internet by repeating the argument again. But some things still need clearing up.

Dobelli’s conclusion is that you should quit the news “cold turkey.” But I think there is something to be said for searching for a replacement; surely something out there is better than chaff. Before we dive into improvements though, we best follow the rationalist’s tenet of checking his arguments for correctness. I broadly agree with him, but ultimately find a somewhat softer conclusion dependent on reader to be in order.

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“He was born with a gift of laughter and a sense that the world was mad.” —Raphael Sabatini, opening line of Scaramouche (1921)

On the other hand, this blog shall be born middling in laughter and with a sense the world is almost too sane.

Laughter is great. Wonder at the world is great. But these things are bombarding us daily and readily accessible on the internet, while I find it much harder to find sources for piecing together how the world works. Since I abide by the law of comparative advantage, I devote this space to that quest.

This blog’s first claim is we want to understand the world.

This blog’s second claim is that viewing the world as not mad, but in fact, quite sane, will give us significant power for discovering the underlying rules that make the world go round.

While I’ll deal with the second in future posts, the first is a clear prerequisite. Luckily, the legwork has already been done for us at the nexus of the rationality blogosphere, LessWrong. If you don’t want to understand the world, I won’t push you. But if you’re on the edge, I’d strongly recommend it.

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