Why consume the most recent news?

Here is another left-over question from my recent talk:

How do you think about when it makes sense for to consume the most-recent news, in light of Robin Hanson’s “news isn’t about info”?  How would you advise the rest of us?

I consume the news avidly for (at least) these reasons:

1. For professional reasons, I am required to do so.  That said, I am happy to note the endogeneity of that state of affairs.  Consuming the news is fun, though in a pinch more sports, games, and the arts could serve much of the same role.

2. I actually care what is happening.

3. Consuming the news is one of the best ways of testing your views about the past.  We are always revaluing what we thought we knew, in light of new data.  Brexit teaches us that the UK was never quite so well integrated into the EU.  The election of Trump may imply that certain late 19th century strands of American politics are enduring, and the evolution of the racial income gap will induce us to reassess various policies of the last few decades.

Under this theory, reading a lot of history books should raise the return to following the news.  For most people, they haven’t read so many books and at the margin they need more books rather than more news.  In this sense, following the news doesn’t make intellectual sense for most people, though they may need it for social bonding, signaling, and conversation purposes.

I would stress the concomitant point that following the news does not make one a much better predictor of the future, if at all.  It may even cause people to overweight the most recent trends, due to availability and recency bias.

4. I also use the news to make history more interesting to me.  It is easier to get “wrapped up” in the news, if only because of the social support and the element of dramatic suspense.  If somehow the Balkans no longer existed, I would find it hard to wish to understand that “…the medieval Serbian Orthodox Church had established a new see at Pec in Kosovo in 1297…”  As it stands, my interest in that event is sufficiently intense, and it remains important for understanding the current day.

5. It is perhaps addictive that the news comes every day.  But that is a useful discipline.  If you follow the news, you will work at it every day, more or less.  Better those compound returns than to do something else once every three months and a half.

In essence, the news is a good, cheap trick for getting yourself to care more about things you should care about anyway, but maybe don’t.


It seems like reading recent news enables people to synchronize their attention around common topics, providing easy conversation topics with others. I had always thought this is the underlying motivation for most people.

And hence it is largely a class marker useful for all sorts of social gatherings. Which is why some issues provide a useful way for idiots to pretend they are smarter than they are - if asked they can complain about the status of plastic in the ocean and so look well informed. Even if they believe the same nonsense they read on the back of a cereal packet everyone else does.

However it is almost literally turtles all the way down. Because Upper Middle class people do this too. They just complain about a better class of nonsense. And academics do as well. I mean you are nothing as an academic if you do not know the "context" that proves the common sense views held by the unwashed masses are actually wrong.

3. Consuming the news is one of the best ways of testing your views about the past.

Oddly I find that understanding the past is the best way to test the news. Given that the news is produced by children who, to quote Obama's foreign policy maven and failed young adult romance novelist, literally know nothing.

In my experience, talking about the news is a mark of lower class status. Nobody should ever reveal their political preferences in a public conversation. You can talk about political philosophy in a high level abstract way, talk about history or economics, without directly addressing hot button issues.

" Brexit teaches us that the UK was never quite so well integrated into the EU."

Also, paying attention since the 1990s teaches us that the UK was never quite so well integrated into the EU.

1970s, actually. The carve outs for the UK start from its admittance to the EU (EEC).

Paying attention since the 1980s teaches you that the EU apparat is a malignancy and that an intelligent body politic concedes nothing of its sovereignty. Blow it up.

I think Tyler is here trying to illustrate why we shouldn't worry about the news. "I would stress the concomitant point that following the news does not make one a much better predictor of the future, if at all. It may even cause people to overweight the most recent trends, due to availability and recency bias."

I think if you have a recrudescence of the 1918 influenza epidemic, you probably should worry. Ditto the three waves of bank failures from November 1930 to March 1933.

I think some seat-of-the-pants studies of the utterances of TV prognosticators have been done over the years and discovered that those around Martin Agronsky's table were less perspicacious than some dude flipping a coin. Not sure how rigorous they are. One supposedly found that the most accurate roundtable forecaster was Capitol Gangster Margaret Carlson, which is hard to swallow.

We should not worry about kids in cages because in the long run .. what?

I guess if Tyler is an optimist, because it will be fixed. If he's a pessimist, humans, what more can you expect?

Because Obama is President. Because all children whose sole available guardians are detained or incarcerated are institutionalized. Oops, those are the reasons that you don’t care about children being “locked in cages”, you insufferable turd.

Anyone who actually follows the news knows that's a lie.

Here is a fair assessment of the whole problem and situation by a Republican:


Your post:

"That is a lie, here's a 1500 word Facebook post that doesn't dispute what you're saying"

How about you save the social media links and tell me what you think I said that is wrong, you child.

So, a good analysis by a sitting US Senator is bad, because it's "social media."

And then you call me names.

Calling people names on social media is how you become President of the United States of America.

Can’t tell if trolling or low reading comprehension. Your post was bad because the linked social media post doesn’t dispute what I’ve said. I specified social media because your habit of offshoring your answer to tweets is annoying. Say what you mean here in this forum.

Weekly magazines are a good filter. If the issue matters one week after, it was important. Also, in weekly magazine they dedicate a few lines to tell the story before the current event. On TV, this context is never provided.

As pure hobby, I always check where is the site of the reported event on google maps: flats, mountains, water, urban, etc

TV news of the American variety is to be avoided like the plague.

That C-Span offers the opportunity to watch something directly probably does not fit into such a definition of 'news,' admitttedly.


Agreed. And don’t get me started on local “if it bleeds, it leads” news

This is a very powerful counterargument that Tyler needs to hear. Full of sound, fury, fire, and anger. A heartbreaking work of staggering genius.

'The election of Trump may imply that certain late 19th century strands of American politics are enduring'

So coy - Sessions is just coincidentally quoting a Bible passage that was first used in American political discourse before the middle of the 19th Century. Unless one means the late 19th century strands of American politics were simply a reflection of the earlier politics of the 19th century (encased in stylish new clothes), which was distinctly true in much of the former Confederacy and border states.

'following the news does not make one a much better predictor of the future, if at all'

Such surprising self-awareness. Congratulations. But to make a prediction, this web site will continue to make predictions in a steady stream, regardless.

'if only because of the social support and the element of dramatic suspense'

Anybody have any idea what this is supposed to mean?

It's telling that prior can't even attempt to spin the narrowing of the racial income gap during the Trump years.

Now get ready for a reply consisting of three paragraphs of unrelated verbiage adapted from Wikipedia.

Maybe even more telling is that I read this - 'and the evolution of the racial income gap will induce us to reassess various policies of the last few decades' - to mean a widening gap.

Strangely, this hard leftist source seems to agree - 'As we celebrate Black History Month, we can take pride in the progress we’ve made while also acknowledging how far we have to go. One troubling sign of the work we have to do can be seen in a wealth gap between black Americans and white Americans that persists and even seems to be widening. It’s a sobering reminder of how far we are from true equality.' https://www.forbes.com/sites/brianthompson1/2018/02/18/the-racial-wealth-gap-addressing-americas-most-pressing-epidemic/ The Forbes piece is from February 2018, by the way.

Admittedly, it looks at a wealth gap (as defined further in the article), not the income gap. You are, of course, welcome to post any link showing reporting that may well bring the racial income gap within measurable distance of its end.

A trillion dollars spent on welfare. An average of something like $750,000 given to each African American over the course of his life. Almost every law changed or at least challenged. Institution after institution gutted or brought to its knees.

And yet racial disparities still exist.

So it seems the solution is to double down on stupid and prove that Einstein's definition of insanity is still valid, or America needs to do something else.

I suggest something else. And here's something else - women on welfare ought to get more money (or less money if they choose otherwise) if they pick a high IQ male for the father of their children.

Or pay women who don't have children.

Or force them to redistribute sex. I love how we libertarians are now acting like authoritarians.

There is a clear line between paying and forcing.

As predicted, a verbose attempt to change the subject.

'unrelated verbiage adapted from Wikipedia'

As a note - the ' ' marks mean a direct quotation from wikipedia - or any source, of course. No need to adapt, it is merely that a citation with a link allows (most) readers to distinguish between what I write and what someone else has written.

The largest advantage with using wikipedia here is that it rarely gets filtered out (only once, actually, and though the actress link was fine, the wikipedia movie link could not be posted here).

prior doesn't think deeply about anything that goes against his "priors". Indeed, his previous handle "prior_approval" was very appropriate.

Particularly as that was my user name at calculated risk's comment section when talking about the housing bubble. You know, that minor event where loan approval was full of fraud? Though oddly, not too many people were pointing that out in 2007.

Hmmm, it is often hard to follow what Prior is saying. Although to be fair, I don't think he knows either. But in this case - mid-nineteenth century?

“Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves.”

So it is often hard to see where people's TDS will take them but Prior is condemning Sessions for quoting the Bible where it explicitly condemns the Confederacy?

'But the verse that Sessions cited, Romans 13, is an unusual choice.

“There are two dominant places in American history when Romans 13 is invoked,” said John Fea, a professor of American history at Messiah College in Pennsylvania. “One is during the American Revolution [when] it was invoked by loyalists, those who opposed the American Revolution.”

The other, Fea said, “is in the 1840s and 1850s, when Romans 13 is invoked by defenders of the South or defenders of slavery to ward off abolitionists who believed that slavery is wrong. I mean, this is the same argument that Southern slaveholders and the advocates of a Southern way of life made.”' https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/acts-of-faith/wp/2018/06/14/jeff-sessions-points-to-the-bible-in-defense-of-separating-immigrant-families/?utm_term=.5fea6334d4d9

Seems like someone forgot to tell the slaveowners that this passage explicitly condemned them.

Possibly. Or alternatively a deluded Left academic (but I repeat myself) is suffering from TDS too.

I suspect the slave owners knew that this passage explicitly condemned them. As Washington probably knew it did too. Somehow I doubt that Christianity played a very big role in politics at the time.

"Somehow I doubt that Christianity played a very big role in politics at the time."

Hahahaha. Someone should have said to the Abolitionists that believed it was part of the Christian ethics (Quakers for instance) and Christians who tried to ground Slavery as biblical teaching. Also to Conservatives that say the Confederacy was the last hurrah for Christianity in America.

'I suspect the slave owners knew that this passage explicitly condemned them. '

Why would anyone think that the lawful owners of property, as guaranteed by the Constitution when they became part of the United States of America, would think that that passage was condemning them?

'Somehow I doubt that Christianity played a very big role in politics at the time.'

And I have no doubt that such ignorance is typical.

"Somehow I doubt that Christianity played a very big role in politics at the time."

A moron and his mouth betrays the harsh truth of his inner ignorance.

Quit predicting? Why?

Being bad at predictions does not make betting games boring.

Want to make a bet that Prof. Cowen does not gamble, either?

The early 80s were a different time, something that should not be news to anyone - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=27Tj-Xo_eqI

@clockwork_prior - how do you get the webpage hyperlink to work in your posts? You seem to be the only respondent who can do this. When the website layout was changed, just pasting web links no longer worked. Do you utilize HTML coding to accomplish this?

Yes, I use hand coded tags, just like 20 years ago when doing web work. Talk about complacent stagnation in comment sections. (Personally, it is still unclear if there is a reason for this - I can think of a couple potential ones, along with there being no reason at all, of the 'oh well, who needs that feature anyways" variety.)

It is pretty easy however, though I assume that there is a filter (properly so) for a couple of the characters involved.

This tutorial should help - https://www.w3schools.com/html/html_links.asp

Basically, I copy the address from the open tab, type the proper tag opening, paste the address after the href tag, paste the address again, then close the tag.

It is also possible to simply use the tag around some text. I like showing the address, but it is not necessary - Joe Jackson's musical commentary on the news as found in Sunday Papers - 'I've got nothing against the press, they wouldn't print it if it wasn't true.'

In a more general sense, most of the HTML encoding works here. That's how you bold</b or italicize or underline.

Oops, I left the the end greater than off the bold!

Well, at least it did not cause the bold to run on to the end, as used to happen a decade or more ago in some comment sections.

And interesting to see that (we will see) is apparently not filtered - that used to be considered a fairly gaping problem in terms of exploiting browsers.

Thanks!! That's what I figured. HTML is no problem for me as I've done website development; I was just surprised that when they switched over to the new layout that one has to hard code links.

C.S. Lewis was of the opinion that newspapers were corrupt and nearly useless and, in general, a waste of time. Much of the news is flotsam and jetsam and safely ignored. You need to right filter. Partisan Democrats and NeverTrump douches collect, truncate, and comment upon Donald Trump's stray remarks; they're doing it wrong (unless their object is emotional validation, which of course it is). Much consequential news these days can be had from government publications, which can and should be examined directly rather than through a journalistic filter. Surviving publications are commonly most useful as a guide to what the political opposition is talking about and what they are telling themselves. Newspapers do not have the budget to do much actual reporting and reporting is a task that doesn't interest them anyway.

Mark Twain, "If you don't read the newspaper you are uniformed. If you read the newspaper you are misinformed." Still true today. They refuse to correctly provide the "when," "what," "where," "how." Aside from quoting the person, they have no business fabricating the "why."

You need to know, the purpose of the "news" us to advance the agenda. Truth has nothing to do with it.

The late James Kilgallen just loved reporting and continued to work until he was past ninety. He said near the end of his life that he'd had the best job in the world. His daughter Dorothy was more of a columnist as a reporter, but she did cover events and people who knew her face to face (e.g. Bennett Cerf) said she was a reporter to the marrow of her bones and the instinct to report was omnipresent, much to the annoyance of some people with whom she had to interact. Cerf also noted that she was a loyal Hearst girl and her politics were non-liberal. I doubt there are many media figures like her today. Sheryl Atkisson, perhaps. (Fox is less a news network than a commentary network with bits of news thrown in).

Don't people consume current news to gain insight into what will be the future news? Why else consume current news; indeed, by the time current news is consumed it's actually yesterday's news. It's understandable why economists would consume lots of current news since they have assumed the role of soothsayer. The rest of us are obsessed with the future because the future holds both the potential for something better and the certainty of the end. Consuming current news helps inform us which to prepare for.

"Art is news that stays news"
Ezra Pound

"Why?" indeed.

The so-called news is, ". . . a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing." MacBeth

A book I am currently reading discusses this subject from the perspective of neuroscience. Am currently reading: The Influential Mind: What the Brain Reveals About Our Power to Change Others by Prof. Tari Sharot. Without going into great detail, curiosity is different than knowledge, and information is like sex and plum pie in that monkeys will "pay" for information at the expense of alternative rewards, and will receive a dopamine kick in the process even though the "information" had no objective utility. We pay for what we think is advance information of what may be in the future. Or make us feel good by confirming biases, cherry-picking, seeking information which give us positive emotions, etc. She also discusses why we avert certain types of advance information. Those are just a few randomly selected observations from a chapter entitled: What Do People Really Want to Know (Curiosity): The Value of Information and the Burden of Knowledge.

The book is quite good, as it looks at information acquisition from the perspective of emotion and emotional content.

Do you seek out Sean Hannity or Rachel Maddow for their emotional content or their information. If the delivery were dry and emotionless would you be interested in it or persuaded by it.

I don't know. I grew up in a family where we subscribed to two newspapers and one news magazine. There seemed to be some desire within to illuminate, and the business of journalism depended on a large audience desiring to know about the world around them, which was a discipline; what you wrote had to have some semblance of reality or people would stop reading and the advertisers wouldn't pay your salary.

Maybe I'm a bit of a curmudgeon, but I can't tolerate an article where in the first two paragraphs there are serious errors of fact and/or a generous dollop of bollocks. Just tell me what happened. Don't try to create a narrative for me, and definitely don't use any of the *phobia or *ism words.

And if you can't tell me something, say that you can't. I have ceased reading journalist writings from inside authoritarian states; they are limited in what they can say but don't tell me that they are.

There are a few stories around that I've run across something then don't hear anything about it. Nothing, and if there is a whisper, it is explained away or called an epithet. I then watch for governments to fall or long standing institutions to be challenged, along with a desperate desire to tell me that it has nothing to do with anything.

"And if you can't tell me something, say that you can't. I have ceased reading journalist writings from inside authoritarian states; they are limited in what they can say but don't tell me that they are."

How do you deal with the corporate media? Capitalist press cannot exist without advertisers and this greatly damages their editorial bent.

Anyone have a link to this "Robin Hanson’s “news isn’t about info”? "

Not exactly on point but:


If you use his search box for "isn't about", you'll get many posts where that is part of the title.

Try reading Knife media or another media source devoid of spin and politics. You wouldn't need to be updating yourself more than once a month in normal times. I would say that omre frequnet news consumption raises the status of the pundits and opinion based news sources (all of social media, all of cable, most of internet, most of print these days) by quite a lot and is not productive.

"Try reading Knife media "

Thanks, I'll look into it.

The question was "when (does) it make sense for us to consume the most-recent news..."?

"But, the answer was "I consume the news avidly for (at least) these reasons:"

I interpreted the question differently, having paid attention to the compound adjective "most-recent" which was rendered superfluous in Cowen's answer. The question, as I read it is: why consume "the news" the instant it is available, rather than wait some period of time to consume it after reporters and others have had time to confirm and assess all or most of the facts which enables them to make a more reasonable, studied report of the event. It appears to me that the internet and other forms of modern communication have made most people consumers of instant pundits and that by the time one has had time to make a more reasonable judgement of the event, most folks are off pursuing the next item of "news". Among other things, this might explain the demise of the quality weekly or monthly periodical (even traditional newspapers are too slow for modern tastes). The race to be first to "break" news has lead to a decline in quality, I think.

For my money, I think the better answer would have been "pursuing *the most-recent news* is not a good use of your time and it is not conducive to forming objective and informed opinions.

American news took a hit in credibility when it went to a 24 hour news cycle. Originally CNN ran a repeating hour/ (half hour) feed. Then they split that off to Headline news and ran 24 hours of mostly commentary on their main channel. This drew larger ratings. No one has worried much about straight news since that period of time.

For what it's worth, when I think of news, I don't even think of television anymore.

The web aggregators deliver a fast snapshot.

Memeorandum is underrated.

Well, no, because if you think the election of Donald Trump has anything to do with the events of the late 19th century, you are an unrepentant dope who really shouldn't bother reading any more.

Being impervious to facts, especially recent ones, is not going to help your tribe win anything in 2020.

You do know that Prof. Cowen`s tribe is the Republican Party, or at least the part of the Republican Party that believes in the rich getting richer, right?

You might have missed the reference there. I believe Professor Cowen is referring to 19th century reactions to immigration.

Sure, but the later 18th and much of the 20th century reactions are just part of the same continuum.

Tyler's party is the same party as Trump, you dolt.

I have said that "the new TDS" is avoiding the news. Because it is bad. Because it might force you to examine your decisions.

I will take this post as general agreement.

Actually, I should not avoid the critical issue on news and its value.

If more of you idiots had followed and understood the news in 2016 we would not have the problems we do today.

And don't give me any "oh but, Hillary shit.' If you had followed and understood the news you would have had a different Republican nominee.

No, you are fundamentally wrong. Hillary being an awful candidate helped Trump win, but the underlying reason why he was a prominent candidate had nothing to do with Hillary Clinton. It was, instead, a direct result of the demonization of the motives of Republican candidates, culminating in the atrocious rhetoric surrounding Mitt Romney.

To quote a prominent progressive:


I know liberals made a big mistake because we attacked your boy Bush like he was the end of the world. And he wasn't. And Mitt Romney we attacked that way. I gave Obama a million dollars because I was so afraid of Mitt Romney. Mitt Romney wouldn't have changed my life that much or yours. Or John McCain.

They were honorable men who we disagreed with and we should have kept it that way. So we cried wolf and that was wrong. But this is real. This is going to be way different."

'but the underlying reason why he was a prominent candidate had nothing to do with Hillary Clinton'

Birtherism paid off big for Trump - oh wait, you didn't mean that, did you?

'Donald Trump has reportedly continued to promote the conspiracy theory that Barack Obama was not born in America despite disavowing the lie during the campaign.

Before declaring his candidacy, Mr Trump actively embraced the discredited notion that Mr Obama, his predecessor and a Democrat, was not born in the United States and was thus ineligible to be president.

The so-called “birther” theory persisted even after the White House released Mr Obama’s birth certificate verifying that he was born in Honolulu, Hawaii. Mr Trump’s embrace of a lie hovering on the fringes of American discourse eased his entry into politics.

Trump’s corporate biography drops Obama birther reference
Republican senator says he wishes party had stood up to birtherism
Michelle Obama said birther rumours were hurtful and deceitful

Late in the 2016 presidential campaign, Mr Trump renounced the birther movement, saying “President Barack Obama was born in the United States. Period”. The reversal came a day after Mr Trump had refused to acknowledge Mr Obama’s American birth to the Washington Post, responding to a question about his views by saying “I just don’t want to answer it yet”.

But despite publicly discarding the birther theory, Mr Trump has continued to embrace it privately, the New York Times reported. According to the paper, he has raised doubts about the veracity of Mr Obama’s birth certificate.

An unnamed senator cited by the Times suggested that the President “had a hard time letting go” of the idea that Mr Obama was not born on American soil.' https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/us-politics/donald-trump-birther-barack-obama-born-conspiracy-senator-claim-private-a8083566.html

Wow, what a desperate attempt to change the narrative. Some times your lame rhetorical attempts are ... really ... lame.

Your attempt at bringing up Romney is not relevant as he didn't even run in 2016. Rubio, Cruz, maybe Jeb were the contenders but they failed. If you want to talk about demonisation look at the attacks at Hillary from pedophile pizza rings to emails, etc. The establishment on the Right in their Hillary derangment syndrome did themselves in.

The fact that I was a news junkie for 20 years, since the 1990s, is what enabled me to see Trump for the horror that he is. I was reading Foreign Affairs in the cafeteria in high school while you were in diapers.

Meant as a reply to the previous anonymous.

Add let me add that I get immense amusement from having reached an age where I can say things like "while you were in diapers" to people.

I had a nice hike in the hills. I mostly watched for rattlesnakes, or fantasized about doing Whitney again, or thought about girls. But I had time for this:

While some of you really do deserve to have the riot act read out to you(*), I will try to speak in a more forgiving way to the median voter (*):

It is true that nine times out of ten Derangement Syndrome does point in the conventional direction. When someone says that a national candidate is an idiot, or crazy, or mixed up with foreign intelligence services, nine times out of ten that's crazy.

But not ten times out of ten. As we saw in 2016, one time out of ten it can go the other way. So follow the news, catch the exceptions, and be a responsible voter.

Now, on the "Hillary was a bad candidate" thing: one level yes, but on another level she faced a very conventional Derangement Syndrome. Benghazi, uranium, the nature of her charity, those attacks were crazy. And certainly the email thing was not processed rationally. She is certainly not the one with cronies in jail.

In summary though, it was a bad cycle all around, but perhaps we should be a bit forgiving of the median voter who was slow to grasp how bad it was.

* - I go back and forth on which bin Tyler belongs in.

3. Consuming the news is one of the best ways of testing your views about the past.

But that probably argues against following the latest news, which is always partial and often wrong.

BTW, today I learned from the news that there are snakes that don't bite. They don't squeeze. All they ever do is suck snails out of their shells. That's their whole living.

Wild. I hope snails taste good to the snakes. Otherwise it would be bad.

I hope they thing "Mmm. That was a good one."

This is probably the biggest impact that Trump's election has had for me. I am consuming *a lot* less news than before. I'd say less than 50% than before the election. Why? Because the news (yes, all of it) has become a anti-Trump propaganda. I don't say these things lightly. I understand that there was anti-Obama propaganda and quite a bit of anti-Bush hysteria. But things now are simply out of control. I used to listed to NPR on my drive to work because I always tried to listen to the other side. But now it is just impossible. I didn't even vote for Trump but I cannot stand the insanity that has took over. It has become useless drivel.

'Because the news (yes, all of it) has become a anti-Trump propaganda.'

Come now, Fox and Friends has earned a presidential seal of approval. As has Michael Cohen's client Sean Hannity.

I could never watch Fox News. Just like MSNBC. I am talking about the so called "middle of the road" options like CNN, NBC and the like. I used to like Jake Tapper for instance, and he has gone insane. NPR is also another sad example. I have always considered them a "somewhat sane" left wing station. Now you cannot even have Science Friday without some stupid agenda behind it (ALL they talk about now is global warming).
I am out. To be honest, this site is probably a large portion of my news nowadays.

If you think NPR is bad, take it straight up. Follow Donald Trump on Twitter.

And that really would be the responsible thing to do.

There's a strong possibility that you hear a lot of bad news about Trump and not good news is because Trump tends to do and say a lot of foolish things and even less good things. Though they do report good news about Trump like the Kim peace talks, but then he then goes to put his foot in his mouth like say in a tweet. He's no conventional president to say the least.

What news you consume and how you consume it greatly influence #1-5.

The news that for whatever reason doesn't interest the media, tends to interest me. Many of the horde being brought to the border - and supplied (by whom?) with the knowledge that bringing a minor along and uttering the word asylum means that the fraught crossing by coyote can be avoided - will soon be living in my city (hopefully, here on MR, there is no need to pretend there will be any other outcome?).

Journalists and politicians are making the trek to Brownsville as breathlessly as if to a combat zone or some other far-flung destination.

They often reference people "fleeing violence in Honduras" in passing in their stories.

I guess I'm alone in that I would be interested in daily bulletins from Honduras. I am admittedly not an avid news consumer, but I haven't seen any reporting from Honduras in the mainstream press in the past few weeks. But then, if going to Brownsville is now a Pulitzer-caliber gambit, maybe Honduras is the other side of the moon to these keyboard journalists.

I wonder if we will occupy Honduras in the next few years. Have no idea what's going on there, or how dire it is.

Honduras never had an insurgency to speak of. El Salvador's was bloody, running from the fall of 1979 to the beginning of 1992. Guatemala's was even bloodier, running on in some form for 36 years and having two episodes of severe bloodshed. The armistices in Nicaragua, El Salvador, and Guatemala brought an end to political violence, but social violence has been horrendous for nearly a generation. The homicide rates over the last generation have tended to bounce around certain set points (35 per 100,000 for Guatemala, 65 per 100,000 for El Salvador, and 75 per 100,000 for Honduras). No occupations yet. No clue how the people there stand all the street crime. I guess they're armed and inured to it.

Good précis.

I recall that in my formative years the left was obsessed with Central America.

The splintering of America makes such cosmopolitanism redundant or unnecessary, I suppose; or perhaps the left has a new clientele, whose demands keep it occupied domestically.

I wonder about the future of international aid from the US. It will surely be drying up.

Good point on the lack of reporting about whatever the hell is going on in El Salvador and Honduras.
You think that the media would want to investigate that but they are totally focused on the immediate political spin. Nobody cares about investigating root causes, they only care about who's "winning".

Given the myriad cognitive biases and so our inability to integrate new information automatically (without careful thought), unless it's our job, I don't see any reason to. Besides, there's a different between news and analysis and try finding news without analysis. News organizations analyze by virtue of what information they select and how they present it. They can report (factually) on certain opinions and research results, but ignore or caricaturize idea's they don't support. I'm not sure a normal person needs the cognitive load of trying to figure out what's happening in the world based off of random memorable recent headlines, or needs to be influenced by selective reporting. Time would be much better spent (and you would have better conversations!) thinking, learning or writing.

I remember when I began to read a daily newspaper as an important personal transition, but I'd like to underline the book recommendation. When I read the news, I rarely have a sense of what I don't know, but when I read books, I often finish them with a sense of what I'd need to study to become more up to date on that subject. It's only by reading books on a subject that I gain that awareness of what's missing from reporting (on that subject). Finally, news writers mostly provide emotional experiences; books can be emotional, but one tends to get a lot more than excitement or outrage while reading a good book. I'd make a distinction between reading news and watching it -- I don't consider the latter news "consumption." Sometimes, news outlets have become like coming-of-age novels, in which the culture attempts to make sense of changes it's going through. In those moments, books remain useful.

Why not consume the most recent news?
Opportunity cost.

Every minute you spend following the 24/7 mainstream news cycle is time you are not spending doing something else - whether it is learning a new skill or consuming some other product of culture. In some cases news consumption may negatively impact those other things as well, since it is a constant distraction and is often depressing.

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