Author and entrepreneur Rolf Dobelli writes in his book The Art of Thinking Clearly
that “We are incredibly well informed, yet we know incredibly little.”
Attack in Pakistan. Earthquake in Sumatra. Man holds daughter captive in a basement for thirty years. Plane crash in Russia. Record salaries of bankers.
Do you really need to know all these things?
For Dobelli, the answer is no.
He suggests avoiding the news altogether, for the following two reasons:
1. How our brains react to certain types of information
As Dobelli points out, our brains react disproportionately to different types of information. Things that are fast-changing, loud, people-based, scandalous, and shocking stimulate us. Whereas abstract and complicated information sedates us.
News producers capitalize on this with garish images, gripping stories, and sensational headlines.
The result is that everything complex, profound, and subtle is filtered out, and “we walk around with a distorted mental map of the risks and threats we actually face.”
2. News is irrelevant
Dobelli notes that in the past twelve months, you’ve probably consumed roughly 10,000 news snippets – as many as thirty each day.
He challenges you to name one of them that has helped you make a better decision related to your business, career, or life in general. Of all the people Dobelli has asked to do this, none have been able to cite more than two useful stories — out of 10,000.
Instead of consuming news, Dobelli suggests reading long background articles and books: “nothing beats books for understanding the world.”