Don't read the news

Yesterday I deleted my news bookmarks and RSS feed. I’m done with the news.

It contains no actionable intel

When was the last time the news helped you add or remove an item in your TODO list? Or gave you ideas for further research? For me almost never. In fact when the COVID pandemic began, National Public Radio and the Washington Post said it was nothing. I had to visit a model rocketry forum to find links to high-quality primary sources1 proving:

  1. China has a history of pathogens escaping its labs.
  2. The center of the outbreak has a laboratory certified for working on pathogens fatal to humans.
  3. At least two of the doctors at that lab helped to get a bat coronavirus to jump from bats to humans without an intermediate host.

On the last Sunday of January 2020, late at night, I was so alarmed by what I read in the alt media, I told my wife: I have to buy supplies. That night I visited Target and bought water filters, first aid supplies, sanitizer gel, bottled water, and meal bars. Next stop the hardware store where I bought several packages of N-95 masks. I was prepared for what came next despite the mainstream media, which did everything it could to dissuade me from protecting my family from a worldwide disaster.

Anonymous message boards, such as model rocketry forums, contain a surprisingly high signal-to-noise ratio: because nobody knows who you are, appeals to your expertise are useless. So you have to prove your point with links to high-quality primary or secondary sources, or make your point so logical and well-structured it serves as its own proof, like a mathematical proof.

They’re trying to make you angry or afraid

Because online media gets ad revenue every time you visit their site, they write the most provocative, rage-inducing headlines in order to get you to click and generate revenue for them.

Even the weather stations get in on the act: I live in hurricane country and have watched the local TV weatherman, during an approaching storm, get handed a sheet of paper, pretend to read it, and feign horror at the terrible news he will tell you about right after the station break. They deliberately try to create a panic in order to keep you tuned in.

Now I just use my phone’s weather app: useful data clearly displayed. I’m also subscribed to text alerts from the county emergency management office. With that I have all the information I need to protect my family.

Voting

If I don’t read the news how do I decide how to vote? Just before an election when I receive the sample ballot in the mail, I research each candidate using the web. Takes an hour or three every election. Some people spend that much time on the news daily.

Your own research and lived experience will guide you.


  1. Primary sources are first-hand accounts: original works such as diaries, interviews, surveys, and original research. Secondary sources interpret, summarize, or critique primary sources: encyclopedias, textbooks, essays, and reviews.