[ Question ]

Which headlines and narratives are mostly clickbait?

by Pontor1 min read25th Oct 20205 comments

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Or: What do superforecasters tend to think of the topics that get tweets and airtime these days? The following questions get put into my attention (consensually and otherwise) and I am genuinely uncertain about the answers.
 

  • Is Trump really gearing up for a fascist takeover? Is fascism truly resurgent?
  • Does the elite left really endorse looting?
  • If Biden doesn't win in a landslide, will this really cause a national crisis?
  • Are we really seeing an incipient purge of non-leftwing thinkers from academia? Just how much of the putative "Great Awokening" is an illusion due to (social) media hype?
  • Have Silicon Valley and the mainstream media really gone to "war"? What will be the course of this war, and how will it end? Will I be much affected if I am not an investor nor a news consumer?
  • Is California really about to be swallowed by leftwing politics and lose all its golden geese to Texas, New Hampshire, or wherever?
  • Are regular Americans being driven into poverty en masse, soon to all be wage slaves to a technocratic elite?
  • Will higher education be drastically affected by the coming era of Work From Home?
  • How ought one view statements from the CDC henceforth? How much did its behavior and credibility in 2020 differ from other years or other administrations?
  • Are we going to see massive migrations out of cities? A world of "red zones and green zones" where large gatherings become a way for societies to flex their public health?
  • Is the general issue of misinformation (including but not limited to conspiracy theories and fake news) really much worse now than in decades past? By what metrics?
  • How much divisive mental malware have entities like the Internet Research Agency really managed to get into our brains? Are countries other than Russia getting in on the action?
  • Is China really running a global surveillance operation by compromising people's smartphones via TikTok? Are they really going to match the US in influence in the next 20 years? Will this require them to ease up on the Uighurs or not?

Sorry, that was a lot to drop all at once, but the cacophony is the point. I know headlines are headlines, clickbait is clickbait, but I frequently hear smart people (including rationalists) giving ample conversational time to any of the above topics. I suspect that with a moderate amount of effort, a smart person could identify and ignore whichever of these topics are pure distraction. What I want to know is if such efforts have already been done systematically and semi-credibly (for example, a collection of rigorous blog posts by a superforecaster). Ultimately, I'm hoping I can get some sense of how to weigh e.g. the resurgence of fascism vs. The Great Awokening vs. silent attacks by foreign states--without having to do tons of my own research. (I already skimmed Metaculus and I remain unsatisfied.)

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I think the easiest strategy is to look at those people and groups that are defamed and censored. If you know that establishment gatekeeping doesn't want you looking a particular way then there's bound to be something worth looking at there

 

That... doesn’t feel super-valuable. For a start, sampling the political opinions of people who regard “the establishment“ as the outgroup is going to disagree very strongly with such ideas as ”We live safe and comfortable lives in a world of great privilege and things are only getting better by the day”. 

Othe... (read more)

5Stuart Anderson8mo-

I think you're kind of missing the point of the question. Even if I avoid media, other people don't, so I get exposed to some of these topics anyway. Even if they're 95% noise, I think it might be worth asking the right people which 95% it is.

All of the topics you raised are distractions from living. That is your answer.


I'm curious if the most epistemically conscientious agree with you, and if so, whether they've made the case in explicit detail. Would you happen to be a superforecaster?
 

You don't even have to ask anyone else about that, just objectiv

... (read more)
1Stuart Anderson8mo-