Are you a news junkie?

Are you one of those people who always need to know? Do you watch or listen to the news religiously, convinced that what you hear will give you an edge? You might be surprised, then, to learn that the news is bad for you and that giving it up might make you healthier and happier. So argues author Rolf Dobelli.

Writing in the Guardian, Dobelli gives ten reasons why the news is bad for your health:

News misleads. “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. The only solution: cut yourself off from news consumption entirely.”

News is irrelevant. “The consumption of news is irrelevant to you. But people find it very difficult to recognize what’s relevant. Media organizations want you to believe that news offers you some sort of a competitive advantage. In reality, news consumption is a competitive disadvantage. The less news you consume, the bigger the advantage you have.”

News has no explanatory power. “Will accumulating facts help you understand the world? Sadly, no. The important stories are non-stories: slow, powerful movements that develop below journalists’ radar but have a transforming effect. The more ‘news factoids’ you digest, the less of the big picture you will understand.”

News is toxic to your body. “It constantly triggers the limbic system. Panicky stories spur the release of cascades of glucocorticoid (cortisol). This deregulates your immune system and inhibits the release of growth hormones. In other words, your body finds itself in a state of chronic stress.”

News increases cognitive errors. “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 exacerbates this flaw. We become prone to overconfidence, take stupid risks and misjudge opportunities.”

News inhibits thinking. “Thinking requires concentration. Concentration requires uninterrupted time. News pieces are specifically engineered to interrupt you. News makes us shallow thinkers. But it’s worse than that. News severely affects memory.”

News works like a drug. “The more news we consume, the more we exercise the neural circuits devoted to skimming and multitasking while ignoring those used for reading deeply and thinking with profound focus. Most news consumers – even if they used to be avid book readers – have lost the ability to absorb lengthy articles or books. It’s because the physical structure of their brains has changed.”

News wastes time. Adding up all the time spent watching news, a person might lose half a day every week. Writes Dobelli: “Information is no longer a scarce commodity. … Why give away your mind?”

News makes us passive. “News stories are overwhelmingly about things you cannot influence. The daily repetition of news about things we can’t act upon …grinds us down until we adopt a worldview that is pessimistic, desensitized, sarcastic and fatalistic.”

News kills creativity. I don’t know a single truly creative mind who is a news junkie. On the other hand, I know a bunch of viciously uncreative minds who consume news like drugs. If you want to come up with old solutions, read news. If you are looking for new solutions, don’t.”

For my part, I began moving away from news and televised media about ten years ago. A little, but brilliant, book by historian C. John Sommerville helped convince me. Now I try to limit my news intake to what I need for my job. Although I indulge here and there a bit still, I have never regretted my extended news “fast.”

How about you? Do any of these ten points ring true?

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You can order C. John Sommerville’s book, How the News Makes Us Dumb: The Death of Wisdom in an Information Society from our Amazon store.

 

 

Are you one of those people who always need to know? Do you watch or listen to the news religiously, convinced that what you hear will give you an edge? You might be surprised, then, to learn that the news is bad for you and that giving it up might make you healthier and happier.

 

So argues author Rolf Dobelli. Writing in the Guardian, Dobelli gives ten reasons why the news is bad for your health:

 

News misleads. “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. The only solution: cut yourself off from news consumption entirely.”

 

News is irrelevant. “The consumption of news is irrelevant to you. But people find it very difficult to recognize what’s relevant. Media organizations want you to believe that news offers you some sort of a competitive advantage. In reality, news consumption is a competitive disadvantage. The less news you consume, the bigger the advantage you have.”

 

News has no explanatory power. “Will accumulating facts help you understand the world? Sadly, no. The important stories are non-stories: slow, powerful movements that develop below journalists’ radar but have a transforming effect. The more ‘news factoids’ you digest, the less of the big picture you will understand.”

 

News is toxic to your body. “It constantly triggers the limbic system. Panicky stories spur the release of cascades of glucocorticoid (cortisol). This deregulates your immune system and inhibits the release of growth hormones. In other words, your body finds itself in a state of chronic stress.”

 

News increases cognitive errors. “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 exacerbates this flaw. We become prone to overconfidence, take stupid risks and misjudge opportunities.”

 

News inhibits thinking. “Thinking requires concentration. Concentration requires uninterrupted time. News pieces are specifically engineered to interrupt you. News makes us shallow thinkers. But it’s worse than that. News severely affects memory.”

 

News works like a drug. “The more news we consume, the more we exercise the neural circuits devoted to skimming and multitasking while ignoring those used for reading deeply and thinking with profound focus. Most news consumers – even if they used to be avid book readers – have lost the ability to absorb lengthy articles or books. It’s because the physical structure of their brains has changed.”

 

News wastes time. Adding up all the time spent watching news, a person might lose half a day every week. Writes Dobelli: “Information is no longer a scarce commodity. … Why give away your mind?”

 

News makes us passive. “News stories are overwhelmingly about things you cannot influence. The daily repetition of news about things we can’t act upon …grinds us down until we adopt a worldview that is pessimistic, desensitized, sarcastic and fatalistic.”

 

News kills creativity. I don’t know a single truly creative mind who is a news junkie. On the other hand, I know a bunch of viciously uncreative minds who consume news like drugs. If you want to come up with old solutions, read news. If you are looking for new solutions, don’t.”

 

For my part, I began moving away from news and televised media about ten years ago. A little, but brilliant, book by historian C. John Sommerville helped convince me. Now I try to limit my news intake to what I need for my job. Although I indulge here and there a bit still, I have never regretted my extended news “fast.”

 

How about you? Do any of these ten points ring true?

 

——

 

You can order Sommerville’s book, How the News Makes Us Dumb: The Death of Wisdom in an Information Society from our Amazon store.