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LOL “News” — It’s What It’s Good For

01

What’s not news—or certainly ought be news to no one—is that everyone is biased, everyone feels a need to believe that their bias—unlike everyone else’s—is for all the right reasons—including, ironically enough, objectivity—and a big chunk of life is an endless struggle in seeking confirmation of just how sound are all of our many biases on just about everything.

So I always begin with that as the given. We’re ego-driven creatures and that’s part of it. Just accept it, but before you can accept it, you must recognize it in yourself and others. But accepting it as the given is not the same as engaging in a personal struggle to keep it under control.

…I keep hearing a lot about this new book, Ego Is the Enemy, by Ryan Holiday.

I’ve never read anything by Ryan Holiday, but lots of people who occupy this so-called Trust Agents space on the Internet—these are the people you trust to tell you what to do, even though they may be lying—tell me it’s an essential book to read. And, from what I gather, all these trustworthy people have always read everything Holiday has ever written since the very first time, when he asked them to “Trust Me, I’m Lying,” as a confessional from an admitted media manipulator.

The last person to tell me to read this latest was Kevin Rose, in his monthly newsletter. It’s a good newsletter, by the way. Trust me, I’m not lying, and I’m not biased—even though I’m quite fond of Kevin’s wife, Darya. …Seriously though, I do like the newsletter. It’s short, clean, surprisingly modest, and quiet.

So I went to Amazon yesterday to check it out. Of course, as most people do, I began reading the reviews.

I always read the reviews. However, I never start with the 5-Star, or those other people found “most helpful” (helpful in what way; confirming bias in one way, or another?). Rather, I always start with the 1-Star. That’s less bias confirming because, if I’m there to potentially buy a book or any other product, presumably my bias is already leaning towards a purchase (because it’s been suggested by people I trust, who aren’t lying to me; no bias there…). As you can see, bias management gets to be a pretty tricky thing.

I’m not just looking for any 1 or 2-Star reviews, either—many better classified as entitlement whining than “review.” I’m looking for well written, well argued reviews, whether the intent is to dissuade purchase or to set the record straight about how wrong the author is.

I was surprised to read a number of very informative, well-written 1-Star reviews for this book. Here was my favorite.

This book is so terrible that I nearly threw it against the wall after the prologue. I am generally a fan of Holiday’s books, however he is criminally misinformed on the role of ego and the ideas he proposes in the book are downright dangerous. In Holiday’s world, we’d all be a bunch of lifeless innovators with no sense of self-worth, identity, pride or confidence since we have worked so hard to erase these areas of our psyche that are paramount to our general wellbeing.

The author erroneously conflates “ego” with hubris, or an overabundance of misguided ego that is indeed counterproductive, but hardly mentioned in the book if at all. Ego itself is not the enemy; hubris is.

Of course we should always be seeking to tame our ego lest it turn to hubris or some other mutation, but to kill it completely as the author irresponsibly suggests is a step toward making us less human. Holiday goes on to suggest that we should replace the ego with humility. Give me a break. While humility, like ego, is also critical to our wellbeing, we should not seek to completely replace one with the other. A balance of the two is critical and in fact should be pursued. This book may help the top 1% of the most crazed egomaniacs among us, but for the rest of us it’s a colossal waste of time and ultimately bad advice. I will be returning it to Amazon if it doesn’t end up in a bonfire before that. [Emphasis added]

So there’s a few ways I’ve struggled with all of this my own self, but hubris has ranked number one. And hand-in-hand with that, is intransigence. It’s a very bad combination, and this is at the very core of why I have written so many times on this blog that the better way to approach all the many biases in your life, which you can’t really do much about—it’s baked in the human-social cake—is to flat out tell yourself and everyone else that you’re wrong about everything, all the time, and so are they.

…That the more enlightened path is endless struggle toward being just a little less wrong every day, or every step of the way. The truth is, you can never be truly certain when you’re right, only when you’re wrong—such as in an utterly failed experiment, or falsified hypothesis.

And so this is what makes The News laugh out loud funny. First of all, what hubris: “The News.”

Yea? Nonsense. At best, it’s selected reportage and at worst, someone’s biased screed about what they happen to find important.

You know what’s funniest of all, though? May I suggest: YOU?

That’s right, and there’s two parts to it.

  1. Your expectations that a) “the news” is representative of what’s truly important and b) that it should be unbiased, factual, and objective.
  2. Your unwarranted distinctions between various “the news” sources, that some are objective and some, biased where in reality, they merely reflect your own biases.

There really is no objectivity in life. Media outlets are for-profit businesses with customers. Their bias in what to “report” and how to present it is a reflection of the preferences of their customers…just like Ford’s product lineup and styling is a reflection of the bias of Ford loyalists for Ford and often, against Chevy. Yea, there’s often two biases at play—the one that’s for something and the other, that’s against something else—and those customers who’re both are the most valuable.

Is it fraud, then, for a media outlet to claim that it’s objective; that it’s “fair and balanced?” Is it fraud for Ford to tell you emphatically that they make “the best” cars and trucks, or Papa Murphy’s to tell you their ingredients are “fresher than anyone else’s?”

And how about public broadcasting that relies on grants, public money, and fund drives? Is it fraud for the Catholic Church or any other denomination or sect to tell you that they’re the only true path to heaven?

…Yesterday I was outraged over this image showing a remarkable level of hubristic bias by Steve Benen and MSNBC, and expressed a fair amount of that outrage on various Facebook and Twitter.

stevebenen-fraud

So today, I just wrote all of the foregoing to put it into a wider perspective; be what seems like a little less wrong about it today, than yesterday.

Richard Nikoley

I'm Richard Nikoley. Free The Animal began in 2003 and as of 2021, contains 5,000 posts. I blog what I wish...from health, diet, and food to travel and lifestyle; to politics, social antagonism, expat-living location and time independent—while you sleep—income. I celebrate the audacity and hubris to live by your own exclusive authority and take your own chances. Read More

20 Comments

  1. gabkad on August 2, 2016 at 13:19

    That’s the thing about Amazon reviews. 5 stars? Read what else that person has reviewed in the past. If it’s a mop, a plastic container, a computer game, a whatever that has nothing whatsoever do to with anything that requires reading (except assembly) there’s something fishy going on.

    Occasionally there are people who write a review and after checking out their other reviews, I get quite the education and decide to read something unrelated to the original listing.

    Have I just got off topic? Dagnabbit.

  2. Woodchuck Pirate on August 2, 2016 at 14:00

    Thank you very much for the book reference. I look forward to investigating further. The negative review you cited was hilarious.

    Derrick Jensen wrote that all writers are propagandists, even those who write dictionaries. He confirmed his point by suggesting one simply look up the definition of “civilization” and find homogeneous glorification of what in reality is dysfunction.

    The 20 premises of “Endgame” by Derrick Jensen are clear, especially number 10:
    quote:
    The culture as a whole and most of its members are insane. The culture is driven by a death urge, an urge to destroy life.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Endgame_(Derrick_Jensen_books)

    endquote.

    Television at my farm is limited to two free digital channels, both WETM Elmira, NY. They repeat the same
    recorded local “newscast” more than a half dozen times each day, and it parrots the same MSM narratives to the letter including video footage. I can not tolerate the insanity and therefore only access the TV for occasional episodes of “Scandal” to study the content as propaganda. I’ve avoided TV for many years and was surprised to find “Scandal” characters working for the Presidential team by drilling into individual’s bodies after covering their mouths with duct tape to stifle screams. I wonder how many people suspect this content is written by gov’t social engineers?

    Truth is always stranger than fiction. News is fiction, and fiction is news. If the goal is to track the conscious minority, my question is “why?” Perhaps the herd is finally too boring to be of further use, as the collapse is impossible to conceal as pain rises exponentially. Really, I can’t think of one worthwhile thing to fill a day in the Illuminati life. I can’t fathom the disdain they must feel toward the human race as novelty gives way to pure nuisance. But then I kill my ego whenever I recognize it, lest my vision of the enemy grow too narrow. The greatest danger I perceive is an enemy grown intolerably boring.

    Woodchuck Pirate
    aka Raymond J Raupers Jr USA

  3. Marc on August 2, 2016 at 14:03

    Richard,
    This is the second time this caught my eye “endless struggle toward being just a little less wrong every day, or every step of the way. ”
    I really like the way you say it. With this post and Upon thinking about it, I would change the word ” less wrong” to “a bit more truthful” hahahaha- honestly though.

    Right and wrong = bullshit , so I don’t walk that road much.

    Been digging your posts lately.

  4. Mark J on August 2, 2016 at 17:05

    Your last few blog posts have been fantastic…piercing the veil.

    • Mark J on August 2, 2016 at 17:06

      Maybe a better title for this post would be:

      “The most honest thing you’ll read on the internet today.”

      🙂



    • Richard Nikoley on August 2, 2016 at 17:29

      It’s what I try to do, Mark and when I do it the best is when I’m piercing my own.



    • Mark on August 2, 2016 at 20:27

      Takes guts and honest self reflection to do it (and I think to do it wisely enough to not over flagellate 🙂



    • Richard Nikoley on August 2, 2016 at 20:59

      Well good.

      I have a visceral dislike over the word flagellate that’s so intense I’ve never bothered to look it up.

      Sounds bad, though.



  5. LaFrite on August 3, 2016 at 01:01

    And I guess you won’t hear Steve Benen comment on this : http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2016-08-02/khan

  6. king of the one eyed people on August 3, 2016 at 14:56

    Hmmm. Ego and hubris perhaps? Ego started the Paleo War ™ but hubris won it.

  7. Hap on August 3, 2016 at 21:53

    I think we need good definitions and some further observations on bias.

    First, I am “Biased” against social science research….because the vast majority has been proved wrong or horrible “science” that cannot be replicated. Although bias research in psychology produced a Nobel Prize for Dan Kahneman it turns out that there are so many “proven ” biases that the concept could be deemed useless for real decision making, and certainly not all that useful for correction as biases pile up on top of each other. Like fundamental particles in physics there are as many as you can find funding to look for.

    Here’s a nice list for the inclined….not necessarily exhaustive.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_cognitive_biases

    Ego and Hubris are also ancient concepts, or at least Hubris is.

    Ego is a modern concept from Freudian psychology,
    According to Sigmund Freud’s psychoanalytic theory, there are three parts to the personality: the ego, the id and the superego. The ego is the psychological component of the personality that is represented by our conscious decision-making process.

    BFD Ego is essentially useful for psychoanalysis but not for analyzing internet posts or news or really , even persons.

    Hubris….from Wikipedia
    Hubris, Greek hybris, in ancient Athens, the intentional use of violence to humiliate or degrade. Much of the “violence” was shaming and sexual. The word’s connotation changed over time, and hubris came to be defined as overweening presumption that leads a person to disregard the divinely fixed limits on human action in an ordered cosmos.

    This is not so helpful either, although someone with hubris might certainly disregard any limits on human action (Divine or otherwise) because of overweening presumptions of correctness.

    What there is ….is innuendo and manipulation based on slant…a preferred point of view for the explicit purpose of forming opinions and influencing behavior of others. Kernels of truth liberally spiced with self righteous assertion or if necessary, the noxious repetitions of outright lies. Richard rightly points out that news is an attempt to describe the world according to a) a worldview (ideology) and b) ratings…or customers. Twisting and contorting facts to fit preferences…perhaps ultimately destroying any particular “fact”. The entire news business and the internet is just one huge pile of opinion.

    Some might call it propaganda. It’s awful that a person cannot possibly investigate every assertion for its truth value (ie fraud or not fraud). If we tried we’d go mad….fucking insane.

    I don’t know…but perhaps the first thing to do is mind our own fucking business.

    • Richard Nikoley on August 3, 2016 at 23:04

      “It’s awful that a person cannot possibly investigate every assertion for its truth value (ie fraud or not fraud). If we tried we’d go mad….fucking insane.”

      No sir, and that was a good expose, btw.

      It’s what we have, and at least we have it.

      Allow me to frame it thusly. Everyone thought the Wild West of the Internet would make everything more objective, more truthful, more honest.

      It has been exactly the opposite and I love every second of it because exposition is where you discern honesty.



    • hap on August 4, 2016 at 12:34

      I’m just conflicted. Internet crawling can just make one sick……literally



  8. Hugh on August 5, 2016 at 10:34

    First, I have the same habit of zeroing in on lucid 1 and 2 star reviews. I like to read a book with its best criticisms in mind.

    I picked up Ego is the Enemy, because I’ve had my eye on Ryan Holiday for some years now. I got it at the same time I picked up Neo-Discovery. So far I don’t like Ryan’s book – I do like Neo-Tech.

    My first issue is that there is no such thing as an ego. It’s completely made up, and nobody has an ego. Has it ever been measured or quantified? Show me ego, point to it. Knowing that ego is nothing more than a concept, in the book Ryan defines ego exactly as he sees fit and who’s to say he’s wrong?

    That said the concept of ego certainly seems to point to aspects of the human condition we can relate to, so in that regard I can see its potential utility. But setting ego as a villain, as something to be destroyed, contained, perfected or transcended, is nothing but a trap. To throw out an old self-help canard, “What you resist, persists.” In other words, the context in which we understand ego is poisoned and we are stuck from the outset with an un-winnable struggle and battle for all of eternity.

    So I don’t see how anyone is going to walk away from having read the book and be more successful, effective, or whatever in their life. He works backwards, starting with his concept of the ego, and finds successful people who fit his mold for proper ego control. But nowhere does he show how those people got there, just that they exist. He doesn’t seem to know how they got there. Meditate and practice mindfulness? Read inspiring quotes? Think about it some, then think about it some more?

    It all goes back for me to the fundamental problem with modern self-help learning. We gather information and knowledge about ego and presume all that information is going to change our behavior and quality of life. By and large, it doesn’t work. It’s the same as people becoming experts on nutrition and weight loss yet still can’t control their weight for shit. Informational learning about being a human being is bankrupt. Informational learning works for learning how to DO, not learning how to BE.

    My bias then is towards “ontological training” and I’ve already outed myself elsewhere on this website as a customer of Landmark Worldwide. I believe they offer the best ontological education in the business and they offer a paradigm that I believe renders discussions about ego moot. The rub is that it has to be experienced to be grappled with. If I explain what I experienced, or more importantly the areas of my life it transformed, that’s still not the thing itself. Describing their training is like describing a rollercoaster – if you’re open to the possibility it will be enriching and fun go ride the fucking thing. If it doesn’t sound like your bag, that’s perfectly fine, but you don’t get to sit pretty thinking your judgment about it has any merit having only experienced words about it. You choose not to experience it because you choose not to experience it, no more and no less, not because you out-thunk them already or don’t like the way I come across or any number of stories one can create to explain your choice.

    Still…there is a worthy discussion of what I mean by ontological training and the Landmark experience at the following link: http://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED381830.pdf. 🙂

    • Richard Nikoley on August 5, 2016 at 11:24

      Good review.

      While there are lots of made-up concepts, some are better than others.

      “Neocheating,” in the NT book is an interesting one and perhaps more useful, as it describes an over-the-top hubristic selfish ego, but, and very importantly, knows and understands that and uses it to play a lifelong con of appearing the most humble and altruistic.



    • Richard Nikoley on August 5, 2016 at 11:31

      Also, Hugh, note that the author of that, Frank R Wallace (Wallace Ward, his children are Frank, Ruth, and Wallace), and eventually a friend of mine (got killed, hit by a car), was a professional poker player who tracked everything.

      He told me that’s how he came up with the “neocheating” concept. How, in the context of the game (it would be digest to do it outside), he could keep people in the game, ante up, when he sensed they might leave the game. And it basically amounted to using old tired slogans and bromides they automatically believe are true.



  9. KND on August 10, 2016 at 10:11

    To me, Landmark is nothing but a for-profit sect (or as you call it in the US of A – a cult). I’ve been studying such “enterprises” for almost 10 years now and personally attending seminars and being a member in no less than a dozen since 2010 – the latest one being the Japanese Happy Science sect. I really think it takes certain personality traits to actually believe in what they preach.

  10. thhq on August 17, 2016 at 18:14

    “ego is not the enemy. hubris is.”

    Well stated. But I think egos underly hubris.

    Hubris is for herding the sheep. Soros/Clinton uses NBC as a border collie. And while Trump is ego and hubris rolled into one, Hannity performs a similar herding task on Fox.

    I think that “the news” is irrelevant at this point for any information urpose, having been replaced by Googling. The media preaches its editorials from a bully pulpit to a diminishing herd of sheep.

    • Richard Nikoley on August 17, 2016 at 19:01

      News is only irrelevant to those who don’t care.

      For those of us who do, I never watch or listen to the stuff I would be more inclined to share affinity with, even that endlessly repetitive windbag Hannity (from my early 2000 sense…though I caught some bits of him at RNC/DNC and he seemed much better.

      I pretty much only listen to NPR. Know thine enemy.

      I do not know a single person in my life who listens exclusively to what they despise.



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