Fake News + Bad Journalism = New Normal

I’ve been interviewed more times than I can remember. Those experiences have sometimes left me shaking my head when I’d find factual errors in the ensuing articles and posts about myself. After all, who better than Mickey Z. to fact-check something written about Mickey Z.?

Whenever I ponder these memories, I can’t help but see them through the lens of the Gell-Mann Amnesia effect.

Murray Gell-Mann was the physicist who discovered and named the quark. One of his close friends was novelist-turned director, Michael Crichton — perhaps best known for Jurassic Park.

It was after his physicist friend that Crichton coined the term, the Gell-Mann Amnesia effect. Here’s how Crichton described it:

You open the newspaper to an article on some subject you know well. In Murray’s case, physics. In mine, show business. You read the article and see the journalist has absolutely no understanding of either the facts or the issues. Often, the article is so wrong it actually presents the story backward — reversing cause and effect. I call these the ‘wet streets cause rain’ stories. Paper’s full of them. In any case, you read with exasperation or amusement the multiple errors in a story, and then turn the page to national or international affairs, and read as if the rest of the newspaper was somehow more accurate than the baloney you just read. You turn the page, and forget what you know.

You forget what you know…

Every single person reading this article has subjects they know well — extremely well. Therefore, I invite you to start consuming content through this lens. Let’s say your thing is birds and you cringe when some major media outlet botches an article about blue jays.

Keep this reality in mind when you read anything on a topic you don’t know well. There is JUST AS GOOD A CHANCE that some journalist did a half-assed job on that article, too. Suggestions:

  • Don’t develop Gell-Mann Amnesia.
  • Read everything with a critical eye.
  • Stop trusting “experts.”
  • Take time to research and self-educate.
  • Make your own fact-checking the norm.

If corporations, artificial intelligence, and government overseers want to manipulate us 24/7, let’s give ‘em a run for their money.

Mickey Z. is the creator of a podcast called Post-Woke. You can subscribe here. He is also the founder of Helping Homeless Women - NYC, offering direct relief to women on New York City streets. Spread the word. Read other articles by Mickey.