Things That Make You Go Hmmm - Such As Mass "Dumbing Down" Courtesy Of 24 Non-Stop "News" (And The Emergence Of Captain Obvious)

Two days ago, we presented Dylan Grice's latest thoughts on the substantial futility of trading the news cycle. Yet as Grice readily pointed out, and as even Taleb would glumly admit, what humans lose in the noise factor by avoiding the constant blasting of news, they make up for in entertainment value. And therein lies the rub: more than anything, people (or at least the vast majority)want to be entertained, ostensibly even more than the desire to make money on actionable, and properly filtered, ideas. The human brain has gotten accustomed to an information barrage of 140 letter updates, often times on a second by second basis, which in turn has crippled the ability to filter out the important from the irrelevant. Grant Williams of "Things that make you go hmmm" takes the idea one step further, and makes the claim that ever since the emergence of the 24 Hour newscycle, from its inception by CNN (also known as the CNN Effect), and currently peaking with each and every major news network having its own business new channel, accompanied by dramatic "breaking news" music, the net effect has been the substantial stupefaction of the broader global population: "Somewhere between the early 1990s and today, however, the 24-hour news cycle has, in your humble scribe’s opinion at least, become largely responsible for the ‘dumbing-down’ of the masses." Elsewhere this is also known as the "keep your eyes off the ball" effect, so well manipulated by those in control to mask what is really important with the repeated blasting of that which is truly irrelevant. Yet in another example of self-referential, deprecating and allegoric prose fit for TS Eliot (who pushed the premise of contextual and voluntary hyperlinking 70 years before the invention of the Internet), Williams makes his piece "entertaining" by presenting that number one construct of modern media: Captain Obvious. "In the investment world, this tear in the headspace/time continuum has meant that investors are unable to focus on all the issues brought to their attention and consequently they tend to suffer bouts of panic or euphoria over a certain subject before being distracted by the next piece of  news and moving on (remember Fukushima? It’s still not completely under control in case you were wondering). This strange situation in turn led to the spectacular resurgence in recent years of a Superhero – a man who, for years, has been omniscient in playgrounds the world over but has now become a fixture in more adult environs. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Captain Obvious." In case it is not obvious where this is headed, read on...

Things that Make You Go Hmm (pdf)

Hmmm May 27 2011