Thursday, December 24, 2015

Applied Left/Right Definition: Journalism and the Accuracy Impossibility Theorem

(Via @Outsideness)

Yes, it's inevitable.

A good theory makes the world make more sense. If left/right really does map to irresponsible/responsible, then it's immediately clear that bureaucracy is a natively leftist institution. The point of a bureaucracy is to cover your ass and launder judgment so ultimately nobody is held responsible. From this perspective, it immediately becomes clear that journalism is a variant of this responsibility-laundering system.

To write to inform is to write to change actions from what they would otherwise be, but the journalist can always say their readers didn't have to take their advice. How often has a journalist been prosecuted for the poor choices of their readers? Indeed it's hard to imagine modern journalism if they could in fact be sued for damages. As a result the natural state of journalism is to attract and retain the responsibility-shirking, which is to say those already biased toward leftism.

A few game theory dynamics makes it worse.

Skin in the game. A journalist is functionally a priest. However, the parish priest meets their flock face-to-face, which inevitably forms some sort of bond. Ideally a strong bond. If their parishioners suffer, so does the priest. They get direct, meaningful feedback if they give bad advice. The journalist, by contrast, has only narcissism. Someone might send them a nasty letter. (Suggests why narcissism is extra strong in journalists: journalism cannot fulfill non-narcissistic yearnings, meaning non-narcissists will find it unsatisfying, even actively frustrating.)

Similarly, given the face-to-face nature of priestly advice, they have a shot at seeing what isn't said. Hobbits are not good at articulating what's wrong or identifying what's important to report. The journalist only gets letters, lacking even body language.
We don’t want to give high status to tall, strong men with good dancing feet. That would make us feel inadequate. (Source)
Reporting accurately is difficult. Most readers are too gullible, etc to tell the difference anyway, so it's unrewarding. Sturgeon's law: 90% of everything is crud, meaning most reporters won't be able to report worth a damn even if they wanted to. Absent powerful external forces filtering out bad journalists - such as suing journalists for the actions of their readers - bad journalism will not only dominate, but drive out the good. Do you see journalists being filtered out much? (Ever?) Anyone looking for useful, reliable information will learn not to bother with anything a prole would call news.  (The internet disintermediating broadcast will hardly help with these core issues.)
By inspection, we instead get cheerleading. Whether a report is factual is nonlocal, and thus takes work to check. Whether a report is cheering is local and maps cleanly to something humans have done since the EEA. They're uplifting novels for those who think novels are childish - the game goes another level deeper, since their suspension of disbelief isn't strong enough to enjoy an honest novel. Bad cheerleaders do get filtered out, mainly by not being published in the first place.

If you are near the average, the way you can tell you're being educated is counter-intuitive: you feel confused. Same video notes that, shockingly, learning takes mental effort. It doesn't take a PhD market analyst to figure out that journalists that make their readers work, and then feel stupid, aren't going to win against those who don't. Except in the market of those buying information for profit. Worse, there's only a narrow area where information can be both unknown enough and reliable enough to profitably sell.

Democracy actively stokes the pride of the proletariat, because it makes them easier to manipulate and harder for them to change course once they're committed.

Freedom of the press don't real.
There's a market for news about the state. The state can trade access for editorial control. The journalist has no incentive to report accurately.
If it is ever politically possible to prevent stories that harm the state (the bureaucracy, in our case) from appearing, they will be prevented from appearing. Why would the state bother to allow them to exist? What are journalists going to do about it, and if anything, why would they bother?
This is probably the keystone reason you don't hear about what Foggy Bottom is doing. The hobbits might take it the wrong way, and there's plenty of theatre to report on instead.

I'm warming to this court of law angle; even "Who will rid me of this troublesome priest?" isn't actionable at present.

On net, journalism is pollution. Freedom of the press is impossible; even if there was a eucivic function for the press, it cannot carry it out. As "Shams may cease" etc, attempting the impossible guarantees a dyscivic sham that will be captured by sociopaths, as sociopaths are the best at lying.


Nick B Steves said...

Christoph was the faggot who called me an Anime Fiend and refused, upon being corrected, to retract his monumentally ignorant statement. I haven't forgiven him.

Alrenous said...

Oh sure. There's more problems than substance in that tweet. However, it's what got me thinking about the issue.

Anomaly UK said...

Some questions: did the press ever report accurately, and if so did something change, or is it another example of a system with its own decay built in?

I speculated some years ago that the mass press was originally a by-product of information-collection done for investors who needed accurate information, and once they were no longer the most important audience, the constraints on inaccuracy and bullshit went.

Alrenous said...

I would suspect that only mutants ever reported accurately. Anyone writing for a newspaper is fundamentally trying to shirk responsibility, meaning they're afraid of being held responsible.

The first English newspaper is apparently mainly about a plague, which, while dramatically less corrupt than present news, is something the readers could not effect, nor does it give enough information to be helpful in predicting how readers will be effected by it. There's also news about the house of commons, which seems hardly distinguishable from the wastes of time we see today. It's gossip for pay, which makes it fundamentally a lie, since it is pretending to be important. The first non-English newspaper is, translated, "Account of all distinguished and commemorable news." I suppose it may have been the newspaper equivalent of those first films, about children tobogganing, but I doubt it.