Monday, April 29, 2013

Guardian News Says: News Is Bad For You

I find this news article from The Guardian ironic:

News is bad for you – and giving up reading it will make you happier

News is bad for your health. It leads to fear and aggression, and hinders your creativity and ability to think deeply. The solution? Stop consuming it altogether.

 For me, this was a total Duh moment.  I thought to myself, who doesn't know that?  But I think the truth is that most people don't understand the concept that a constant stream of negative soundbites wrecks havoc on your mind and your sense of well-being.  That's why, for several years now, I haven't made it a point to keep up with the news.  I don't watch TV news (which is easy since we don't have cable), I don't read the newspaper, I don't scour internet news sites, and I even recently gave up my bad habit of reading celebrity gossip magazines. 

That's not to say I'm uninformed.  I read lots of informative blogs like Fat Head, Diet Doctor, and Mark's Daily Apple, and I listen to podcasts that interest me.  I check the weather frequently, I read magazines that interest me, and I'll sometimes listen to the news on our local radio station (and sometimes I ask Chad if there's anything interesting going on in computer/tech news he reads).  I pay attention to the things that are important to me, but I stay far away from the kind of negative news that does harm to my well-being.

The Guardian article is broken up into little sections, and I think the title for each section is a good description of why you should stay away from news.

News misleads.
News is irrelevant.
News has no explanatory power.
News is toxic to your body.
News increases cognitive errors.
News inhibits thinking.
News works like a drug.
News wastes time.
News makes us passive.
And my favorite one:

News kills creativity. Finally, things we already know limit our creativity. This is one reason that mathematicians, novelists, composers and entrepreneurs often produce their most creative works at a young age. Their brains enjoy a wide, uninhabited space that emboldens them to come up with and pursue novel ideas. I don't know a single truly creative mind who is a news junkie – not a writer, not a composer, mathematician, physician, scientist, musician, designer, architect or painter. On the other hand, I know a bunch of viciously uncreative minds who consume news like drugs. If you want to come up with old solutions, read news. If you are looking for new solutions, don't.

I like this because it explains so well the problem we lowcarb/paleo/primal folks are having with society, and how they can't seem to think outside their low-fat high-carb box.  They consume so much news that tells them the same thing over and over again, that pretty soon they can't even toy with the idea that anything else is possible.  I can't tell you how often I've heard people argue, "But I heard on the news..." when I'm trying to tell them about my way of eating.  Once they hear it on the news, they don't bother going out and doing their own research, and the idea is stuck in their head forever.  There are still people who don't eat cholesterol (or limit it as much as possible) despite the fact that dietary cholesterol has been openly redeemed of its once bad reputation.  Why do they still eat that way?  Because they remember reading or hearing on the news that it was bad for you back in the 80s (and journalists keep repeating the same old ideas from 30 years ago despite the fact that science has moved on). 

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