Tuesday, May 8, 2018

The New Populism

Now that we all mistrust institutions and experts, we can rely instead on stock tips like this, which appeared on Yahoo today:

How many people do you suppose responded to this ad?


G. Verloren said...

The irony is that these sorts of people only get coverage because "the experts" are willing to hand it to them.

Yahoo has no earthly business reporting on the "stock tips" of some random (forgive the pun) yahoo with no credentials. And yet they willingly choose to do so, undermining their own integrity and trustworthiness with the public, purely to make just a little bit more money than they otherwise would have.

When the world's experts start giving a massive platform to every Tom, Dick, and Harry with an ignorant opinion in a cynical bid to increase their readers / viewers / listeners / et cetera for their content, they destroy their own credibility as experts. It becomes a race to the bottom, to see who can appeal to the lowest common denominator the quickest and most absolutely.

What's the point of being an expert in something if you're willing to lower the public's valuation of your expertise to rock bottom levels? Why should people listen to what you have to say when you present other voices as being equally valid if not moreso, regardless of their actual validity?

Isaac Asimov phrased it well, noting that modern society suffers from "the false notion that democracy means that 'my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge'."

And so we get the Free Press (or perhaps, these days, the Corporate Press) perfectly happy to give equal coverage to both the globe's foremost experts and most learned people, and to delusional paranoid ignorant crackpots with vile opinions and a total disregard for facts or basic human decency. We put the world's brightest minds on the same level as the world's dumbest brutes. And then we marvel at the fact that the average poorly educated citizen lacks the knowledge, judgement, and critical thinking skills to understand the difference between the two viewpoints being presented as equals, despite their massive inequality.

pootrsox said...

I would suggest, Mr/Ms Verloren, that Yahoo is not "reporting" anything, merely serving up an ad.

G. Verloren said...


An ad that's cloaked in the garb of a news article, and presented to the public by a news outlet, with the intent of duping people into taking it seriously as news.

This isn't a billboard showing a company logo, a pithy slogan, and an image of a product for sale. This is a literal fake news article.

This isn't an advertisement for a product or service. This is Yellow Journalism, with private parties able to buy and dictate literal headlines on a whim.