Linkblog entry: Bryan Caplan on why reading news is mostly, waste of time.
First, Case Against News from 2011:
By and large, I think news is a waste of time. If I want to increase my factual knowledge, I read history - or Wikipedia. News, I like to say, is the lie that something important happens every day.
Caplan summarizes Rolf Dobelli’s “Avoid News”:
Read magazines and books which explain the world - Science, Nature, The New Yorker, The Atlantic Monthly. Go for magazines that connect the dots and don’t shy away from presenting the complexities of life - or from purely entertaining you. The world is complicated, and we can do nothing about it. So, you must read longish and deep articles and books that represent its complexity. Try reading a book a week. Better two or three. History is good. Biology. Psychology. That way you’ll learn to understand the underlying mechanisms of the world. Go deep instead of broad. Enjoy material that truly interests you. Have fun reading.
After a while, you will realize that despite your personal news blackout, you have not missed - and you’re not going to miss - any important facts. If some bit of information is truly important to your profession, your company, your family or your community, you will hear it in time - from your friends, your mother-in-law or whomever you talk to or see. [All too true! -BC] When you are with your friends, ask them if anything important is happening in the world. The question is a great conversation starter. Most of the time, the answer will be: “not really.”
In addition to the blog above, notice also Caplan’s other blog post Jefferson Against Newspapers from 2008 (contains Jefferson’s witty quips on newspapers).
Complaining about constant bombardment of news is a tired trope, so I won’t do that, but I admit that I find Caplan’s (Dobelli’s) position …refreshing in the age of Twitter and constant feeds of updates.