A generally losing strategy to life is looking at a major news outlet and thinking "I definitely trust this. These guys are on my side".

In reality, there are an extremely wide variety of Pareto solutions that any large corporation can make with people who are not on your side. This includes news corporations; whether or not they are owned by a conglomerate has little to do with it. Money talks.

If someone, somewhere, were to have a vested interest in keeping consumer spending high in order to stave off a recession, they would at least try find a way to persuade millions of people that There Is No Recession. That certainly doesn't mean that they will succeed. But it also almost certainly means that they will try.

Believing in belief is generally a losing strategy to life; if it's bad enough on it's own, then it's probably even worse to get suckered into believing in belief along with millions of other people. If you have strong feelings in favor of trusting large news corporations for any reason, such as a hatred of blogs and social media (the competitors of large news corporations), then it's important to bear in mind that reality is allowed to trick you into losing all your money.

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If someone, somewhere, were to have a vested interest in keeping consumer spending high in order to stave off a recession, they would at least try find a way to persuade millions of people that There Is No Recession. 

I think the basic story behind that WSJ headline is that the financial press makes an overly big deal out of daily market fluctuations which aren't that relevant to most investors (or most people). Not that they're trying to trick people into thinking that the economy is doing better than it is.

To pit these two hypotheses against each other (or other hypotheses), you could look at the past couple weeks of financial headlines to see what the WSJ & other financial press said on days when the market went down.

The same they did during the last recession: insist that there was no recession.

I agree with this post, but not the choice of one of the words in title ("One single meme that makes you Less Wrong in general").

Does it have to be a meme?

Can't it be a belief, a skill or a habit?

This is a very bad take. It is plausibly true that the wsj does not have your (whoever you are) best interests at heart. But this post has done nothing to substantiate that view. The OP has cherry picked a single article that happens to have a time horizon the OP does not like and used that to imply (the OP implies in the post but more explicitly asserts in comments) that the wsj has a mendacious and overarching objective to "persuade millions of people that There Is No Recession". If the article referred to is proof positive of this (in a win for synecdoche and the hasty generalization fallacy) then would not another article expressing roughly the opposite take be proof of roughly the opposite generalization?

Today (6/22) the top left article on my wsj.com landing page is: "Powell Says Rate-Rise Effort May Lead to Recession"

And over the last 2 days a few titles I see when searching for recession:

   Recession Probability Soars as Inflation Worsens

   Fed’s Harker Says Some Economic Contraction Possible

   Fed Paper Finds Elevated Probability of Recession

   Apple Isn’t Priced for a Recession

   Want to Understand Inflation? Check the Price of Your Haircut

   Inflation, Growth Fears Collide to Heighten Bond-Market Volatility

   How to Keep Your Job, or Find a Better One, if There’s a Recession

   Britain’s Inflation Crisis Deepens, Fueling Strike Action

Most of the "recession isn't a risk" stories I see are not-particularly credulous references to such and such a person asserting that. E.g.:

   Yellen Says Fed Can Combat Inflation Without Unemployment Increasing Significantly

   Fed’s Bullard Says He Expects Economic Expansion to Continue This Year

Or seemingly positive stories that are actually clearly negative like marking the top of the housing market:

   Existing-Home Sale Prices Hit Record in May

Also, with specific reference to the subjective market tracker noise that the OP might have a point about, here are a few correctives with varying time horizons:

   Stocks Jump After S&P’s Worst Week in Two Years 

   U.S. Stocks Rally, but Economic Downturn Fears Loom

And here, if you've made this far, I fear I may be taking a pot shot. But why is YTD the right reference period? Click the 5 year horizon on your google stock chart and you'll see +55% (9% CAGR - pretty good!) despite the recent downturn in equities. And for extra credit, since we are all wise rational investors here - check 5yr for SPTR to discover S&P has a 11% 5yr CAGR with dividends reinvested (though, without any tax impacts, in fairness.) 

A mostly losing strategy in life is looking at all info sources and thinking "these guys are out to get me personally and I will assert the opposite of what they say is true." That way QANON lies. Better to pick and choose and attempt to understand the frame being used to deliver the message. But don't forget Gell-Mann Amnesia!

Most of this looks like motivated reasoning. You're trying to reinvent the wheel, and you're falling into the usual pitfalls that have trapped people smarter and better people than either of us.

Anyone with policy experience intuitively and inevitably begins to understand various ways that news websites frequently mislead people. One of the less-well-known strategies is to put the dishonest article on the front page (which millions of people see) and then putting honest articles elsewhere that only a few thousand will see. That only scratches the surface of the complexity of how this sort of thing happens.

It's definitely true that I forgot about expecting short inferential distances. which, in other words, means that I did a bad job writing this post. In a group with only economists, the image alone would suffice.

A mostly losing strategy in life is looking at all info sources and thinking "these guys are out to get me personally and I will assert the opposite of what they say is true."

individuals getting duped by large organizations is pretty commonplace in modern civilization; as far as I'm aware, it's always been that way, although history is outside of my area of expertise. Exploitation and deception scale pretty effectively, especially when it comes to extreme information asymmetry (aka the ignorant masses).

Hi Trevor1 - It seems to me that you don't know what your point is in this post and your various responses. And you are casting various aspersions in this last post without backing those up either. Shrug emoji.

Most of this looks like motivated reasoning. You're trying to reinvent the wheel, and you're falling into the usual pitfalls that have trapped people smarter and better people than either of us.

Huh? You are just using words here without any meaning associated with them. I listed a bunch of article that are recession alarmist to counter your assertion that the wsj is trying to trick me into thinking no recession is coming. I simply searched "recession" for the last 2 days and noted the article titles. Almost none were denialist. I'm not inventing anything, just pointing to some countervailing evidence. Where is the trap and where is the motivated thinking?  I just think your argument is incoherent and overconfidently hand-wavy. 

One of the less-well-known strategies is to put the dishonest article on the front page (which millions of people see) and then putting honest articles elsewhere that only a few thousand will see.

Huh? Now this is a taxonomy of how news orgs trick us? Front "page" of today's wsj is recession alarmism not denialism. Front page of yesterday's was alarmism not denialism. And the thing is, even the article you highlighted is not wrong - read the subtitle. It says, roughly: big bad stuff has been happening and now a little good stuff happened. It may not be helpful to you but it isn't evidence of a plot. And it also says nothing at all about a recession! It is non-sequitur to your recession premise. And it is orthogonal to your -large news corporations are lying to us on purpose- premise. 

There isn't a long inferential distance problem here. I simply disagree with your premise(s) and think you have not met any reasonable bar of related (non cherry picked) evidence. I thought I was providing counter-evidence but you counter that I'm just missing some deep wisdom. Meh. Also not convincing. 

Listen - news sources are wrong! I don't counter that. But it is kind of neither here nor there in your post. 

In a group with only economists, the image alone would suffice.

I mean, suffice for what? All these economists would agree with your premise that we "clearly been heading towards a recession for months"? No they wouldn't. Nor would they likely agree with (what I perceive is) your other assertion that "large news corporations" have an organized agenda to lie to the ignorant masses. I mean, besides fox news, obvi. 

I think your group of only economists would tell you that there are many strange signals in the noise this time - as there are every time. They would point to the strength in various productivity trends and general strength (at least in the US) of household balance sheets as two countervailing points to counter the many negative signals. Lots of arguments as well regarding the relative influence of demand vs supply constraints as drivers of inflation, along with how much impact the russia / ukraine situation is having on inflation. These arguments play out in my info diet on econ twitter, econ blogs like econlib, a bunch of substacks and yes, news sources like wsj. These are (as I perceive them) pretty honest attempts to ferret out the truth. Sure, everyone has an agenda and an ax to grind. But, no, the fix is not in. 

I am spitballing here but I suspect you are concerned that other people aren't concerned enough about a pending recession and you simply used a silly piece of evidence as support. No harm no foul. Go forth and make that argument with evidence! But don't dig a deeper hole here. These are not the droids you are looking for. Alternatively, maybe you are a conspiracist and believe there is an organized plot to [something that isn't clear]. Every source makes editorial decisions about what NOT to cover and the slant for what they do cover. And these decisions accumulate into an agenda, without a doubt. But that isn't the point you seem to be making. I dunno. Maybe you have a point - if so make it!

Lastly - you misread my last line almost comically. I certainly think it is possible and even likely for many to be be misled and/ or exploited by institutions (corporations, states, "teams" like political parties, etc.) I simply think it is a losing strategy to be paranoid and knee-jerk contrarian. It makes one sound like a crank, that can't have fun at parties and who is likely to miss out on compounding interest because "they're all crooks." This is contra your straw man version last paragraph in the initial post. 

“Many a good argument is ruined by some fool who knows what he is talking about.”
Marshall McLuhan

P.S. I might be done here - time to get back to real life. But if you are tempted to respond, I challenge you to specifics! Make a specific point, object to a specific statement whatever. But don't wave your hands around using metaphors and unsupported assertions. 

You've selected the YTD (year to date) tab here. If you look at the 1D (today) tab, you see that the S&P indeed went up today.

I think the point is "a focus on daily fluctuations obscures slower, more important trends"; i.e. it's not a disagreement about which facts are true but which facts are most relevant.

Then why not choose the 5 year window?

Because we've clearly been heading towards a recession for months, and jumping up and down by 2% has not been an unusual occurrence. Today, the second trading day since the actually massive drop on thursday, it went up by the usual fluctuation; yet WSJ depicted this as a massive turning point away from a recession, which was clearly deliberately dishonest.

The point of this post is that news firms lie, it's obvious, and we should stop wishfully thinking that they don't when it's obvious to anyone with basic experience in the area, and increasingly obvious to people without basic experience in the area. Hence, the meme format (for this particular instance).

Nothing is 100% accurate, but if you want the most accurate news then it's best to get closest to the primary source and large news organizations are usually the ones with the budget to get closest to the primary source, which often makes them more trustworthy. They also have large editorial boards and have a reputation to upkeep. They often have a bias towards being pro-corporate since most are for-profit and rely on advertisers, though every single source of news has some bias. 

Also, stocks had a rather large rally today and it was newsworthy for the short-term so not sure showing today's rally vs a YTD downtrend is supporting your point that news isn't trustworthy

In the past, I would have agreed with this. However, since the start of the pandemic, news corporations have treated their reputation as something to spend, not to save.

Meanwhile, as sources of facts they are still pretty great. But when the slightest subjectivity comes in, like today's "rally" in the stock market where "investors returned to high-risk assets", they are so misleading that it's basically lying. Furthermore, lies by omission are prevalent in most domains and they create a lopsided worldview in all domains.

Their editorial boards are basically executives with an extra emphasis on brand reputation, which is central to the news business model (and is increasingly less central, as they have to compete with blogs, fake news, social media, and digital entertainment in general).

News corporations provably have an imperative to reduce panic during a recession, although I don't know the specifics of where the momentum for this comes from. This means that the deception is especially acute during this time; hence the meme.

News corporations provably have an imperative to reduce panic during a recession, although I don't know the specifics of where the momentum for this comes from.

Do they, provably? Or, to put it differently: Is having an imperative to reduce panic the only plausible explanation for headlines like this? 

My primary model of news organizations' goals is that they are trying to maximize attention, ideally (but not always) without being factually wrong. I think the WSJ headline is compatible with those goals.

For me the reporting about daily fluctuations in the financial press is mostly a source for amusement, not to be taking seriously (on 99% of the days, of course).