Salient to Investors:

Rolf Dobelli writes:

  • News is bad for your health, leads to fear and aggression, and hinders creativity and ability to think deeply.
  • News is to the mind what sugar is to the body. Small bites of trivial matter don’t require thinking which is why we experience almost no saturation, unlike reading books and long magazine articles which require thinking.
  • News misleads. 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.
  • Bankers and economists have shown that they cannot compensate for news-borne hazards with the strength of their own inner contemplation.
  • News is irrelevant. People find it very difficult to recognize what’s relevant but find it much easier to recognize what’s new. The relevant versus the new is the fundamental battle of the current age. The media want you to believe that news offers you some sort of competitive advantage but in reality, news consumption is a competitive disadvantage – the less news you consume, the bigger the advantage you have.
  • News has no explanatory power. The important stories are non-stories: slow, powerful movements that develop below journalists’ radar.  The more news you digest, the less of the big picture you will understand.
  • News is toxic to your body. Panicky stories spur the release of cascades of cortisol. High cortisol levels cause impaired digestion, lack of growth, nervousness, susceptibility to infections, fear, aggression, tunnel-vision and desensitization.
  • News increases cognitive errors. News feeds confirmation bias. Warren Buffett says people are best at interpreting all new information so that their prior conclusions remain intact. Any journalist who writes, “The market moved because of X” or “the company went bankrupt because of Y” is an idiot.
  • News inhibits thinking because it is specifically engineered to interrupt you. Thinking requires concentration which requires uninterrupted time. News makes us shallow thinkers and weakens comprehension. A 2001 study showed that comprehension declines as the number of hyperlinks in a document increases, because a link makes your brain make a choice not to click, which in itself is distracting.
  • News works like a drug. Most news consumers have lost the ability to absorb lengthy articles or books, and get tired or restless after four or five pages.
  • News wastes time.
  • News makes us passive because they are overwhelmingly about things we cannot influence so we adopt a worldview that is pessimistic, desensitized, sarcastic and fatalistic – “learned helplessness”.
  • News kills creativity because things we already know limit our creativity – a reason why mathematicians, novelists, composers and entrepreneurs often produce their most creative works at a young age.

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