Don’t be Fooled – Headline Framing

It is easy to be fooled in an age of headline-only reading. But even if you read the full article or watch the full video, the persuasion has already been attempted, and has quite possibly worked.

As soon as a story is framed a certain way, usually via the headline, it has primed you to think that way regardless of what the actual story says. This is one of the biggest ways the media engages in fake news. They can then always point to story itself and shrug their shoulders in Edenic innocence.

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Modern civilization is more fragile than most people think. A wide variety of complex interactions and assumptions and interdependencies that no one fully understands. The foundations are strong, baked over centuries, but everything built on top of them looks more and more like a monstrous, top-heavy Rube Goldberg machine, reaching to the clouds, swaying in the breeze.

This is why, when someone picks up the box, the one with red FRAGILE stickers plastered all over it, and starts to shake it, toss it, and punt it across the yard, you don’t cheer. You don’t egg them on. You don’t make excuses for them. You don’t even offer them a polite golf clap.

The only sensible thing to do is to look on in horror. Condemn when appropriate and plead for them to stop.

And then get down on your knees and pray for the foolishness and evil to end.

Photo by Pop & Zebra on Unsplash.

Pretend Benevolence and the Code of the Coward

Pretending to love the poor half a world away is a common problem, especially in an age where everyone is trying to signal their virtue. Like the old saying goes, “Everyone wants to save the world, but no one wants to do the dishes.” Nowadays, it can be properly modified to say:

Everyone wants to post pictures and memes about saving the world, but no one wants to do the dishes.

This is just a slight intensification.

Both NN Taleb in his Skin in the Game and C.S. Lewis in his Screwtape Letters highlighted the phenomenon.

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