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Quotation of the Day…

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… is from page 253 of the late Hans Rosling’s splendid 2018 book, Factfulness: Ultimately, it is not the journalist’s role, and it is not the goal of activists or politicians, to present the world as it really is. They will always have to compete to engage our attention with exciting stories and dramatic narratives. They will always focus on the unusual rather than the common, and on the new or temporary rather than slowly changing patterns. I cannot see even the highest-quality news outlets conveying a neutral and nondramatic representative picture of the world, as statistics agencies do. It would be correct but just too boring. We should not expect the media to move very far in that direction. Instead it is up to  us as consumers to learn how to consume the news more factually, and

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… is from page 253 of the late Hans Rosling’s splendid 2018 book, Factfulness:

Quotation of the Day…Ultimately, it is not the journalist’s role, and it is not the goal of activists or politicians, to present the world as it really is. They will always have to compete to engage our attention with exciting stories and dramatic narratives. They will always focus on the unusual rather than the common, and on the new or temporary rather than slowly changing patterns.

I cannot see even the highest-quality news outlets conveying a neutral and nondramatic representative picture of the world, as statistics agencies do. It would be correct but just too boring. We should not expect the media to move very far in that direction. Instead it is up to  us as consumers to learn how to consume the news more factually, and to realize that the news is not very useful for understanding the world.

DBx: For evidence that we would be wise to heed Rosling’s warning, see this new paper by Bruce Sacerdote, Ranjan Sehgal, and Molly Cook. Americans who don’t question the headlines – who swallow whole the breathless reports of “surging Covid cases” as if these are reports of surging imminent deaths – who believe only the pronouncements of those “experts” who the media and most politicians declare to be the “experts” – have a fear of Covid and a trust in government officials that not only are excessive, but also are dangerous physically, economically, and politically.

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Don Boudreaux
He is a professor of economics at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia. Previously, he was president of the Foundation for Economic Education.

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