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Monday, 18 September 2017

News is bad for you if you want to think clearly

News from an Indian business paper this month:

Why your clients should avoid market noise

Analyzing each event, its implications on the portfolio and trying to time the market can be a mindless task.

By Ravi Samalad | 06-09-17 | 

“Out of the approximately 10,000 news stories you have read in the last 12 months, name one that – because you consumed it – allowed you to make a better decision about a serious matter affecting your life, your career or your business. The point is: the consumption of news is irrelevant to you. But, people find it very difficult to recognize what's relevant. It's much easier to recognize what's new. The relevant versus the new is the fundamental battle of the current age. Media organizations want you to believe that news offers you some sort of a competitive advantage. Many fall for that. We get anxious when we're cut off from the flow of news. In reality, news consumption is a competitive disadvantage. The less news you consume, the bigger the advantage you have.”

Why your clients should avoid market noise - Morning Star
Avoid market noise and stick to investment goals to create wealth over long term - Moneycontrol.com

The writer of that piece contributes regularly to the leading German business paper:
Nutzungshinweise - Impressum - Handelsblatt Online
Autorengespr√§ch mit Rolf Dobelli „Die Kunst des guten Lebens“ – Handelsblatt – Der Wirtschaftsclub

To put it another way:

Rolling news and people’s views

SEP 15, 2017


Our society is obsessed with absorbing information for information’s sake, but news stories should be a means to an end, not an end in themselves. C.S. Lewis hit the nail on the head when he said that ‘a sick society must think about politics, as a sick man must think about his digestion’, yet neither must ‘regard it as the natural food of the mind’. A sick man must think of his illness in order to get better, just as a sick society must remain aware of current affairs. 

To not have this information would be fatal, but to have it and think on it for no ultimate end also has consequences: philosopher Rolf Dobelli claims that ‘the human brain encounter[ing] a barrage of ambiguous information without being able to act upon that information’ could lead to a sense of victimisation, and even depression.

Rolling news and people’s views | Palatinate Online

From the man himself:
News Diet (full essay) – Rolf Dobelli
Microsoft Word - Avoid_News_Part1_TEXT.docx 

Writing in the Guardian, just after his book came out in English:

News is bad for you – and giving up reading it will make you happier

News is bad for your health. It leads to fear and aggression, and hinders your creativity and ability to think deeply. The solution? Stop consuming it altogether

Rolf Dobelli Friday 12 April 2013 20.00 BST

In the past few decades, the fortunate among us have recognised the hazards of living with an overabundance of food (obesity, diabetes) and have started to change our diets. But most of us do not yet understand that news is to the mind what sugar is to the body. News is easy to digest. The media feeds us small bites of trivial matter, tidbits that don't really concern our lives and don't require thinking. That's why we experience almost no saturation. Unlike reading books and long magazine articles (which require thinking), we can swallow limitless quantities of news flashes, which are bright-coloured candies for the mind. Today, we have reached the same point in relation to information that we faced 20 years ago in regard to food. We are beginning to recognise how toxic news can be.

News misleads. 
Take the following event (borrowed from Nassim Taleb). A car drives over a bridge, and the bridge collapses. What does the news media focus on? The car. The person in the car. Where he came from. Where he planned to go. How he experienced the crash (if he survived). But that is all irrelevant. What's relevant? The structural stability of the bridge. That's the underlying risk that has been lurking, and could lurk in other bridges. But the car is flashy, it's dramatic, it's a person (non-abstract), and it's news that's cheap to produce. News leads us to walk around with the completely wrong risk map in our heads. So terrorism is over-rated. Chronic stress is under-rated. The collapse of Lehman Brothers is overrated. Fiscal irresponsibility is under-rated. Astronauts are over-rated. Nurses are under-rated.

News is bad for you – and giving up reading it will make you happier | Media | The Guardian

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The Art of Thinking Clearly (Rolf Dobelli, Chairman at ZURICH.MINDS) | DLDwomen 12 - YouTube


And:
Merlijn's reading tip #2: 'Avoid News' by Rolf Dobelli - YouTube
Nassim Nicholas Taleb ZURICH.MINDS. Talk with Rolf Dobelli - YouTube

Plus:
Rolf Dobelli - Wikipedia
The Art of Thinking Clearly: Better Thinking, Better Decisions: Amazon.co.uk: Rolf Dobelli: 9781444759563: Books

There are alternative views of course:
This column will change your life: why Rolf Dobelli isn't thinking clearly | Life and style | The Guardian
This could be the stupidest article The Guardian has ever published | Aethelread the Unread

And the extent to what we are 'allowed' to read, watch, see...
Newspapers and their dependence on council advertising revenues | East Devon Watch
Futures Forum: Fake news, the UK general election and local news

I think we could learn from this:
Futures Forum: A simple guide to algorithms
Futures Forum: Brexit: and the use of data analytics
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