Interesting metaphor of information as food and all that this implies. The book had some very good thought-provoking chapters, although the 'how-to' components lacked something for me. Still, worth a read.

Your reading activity
Dates 19 June 2012 – 22 June 2012
Time spent reading 3 hours, 50 minutes
Highlights 35
Comments 13
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  • Alasdair Alasdair
  • Erin Brown Erin Brown

We know we’re products of the food we eat. Why wouldn’t we also be products of the information we consume?

If you search for “information overload” on, you’ll get 9,093 results—roughly eight and a half times more than the number of results that a search for “irony” returns.

in order for us to live healthy lives, we must move our information consumption habits from the passive background of channel surfing into the foreground of conscious selection.

This drive and industrialization is necessary, actually. By 2050, the UN estimates, we’ll need to double our food production again to maintain projected population growth.

Andrew Doran Andrew Doran

This feels a bit throwaway given the focus of previous paragraphs on current obesity levels in the US. If everyone is so obese, do we really need to produce more and more or could we distribute what we have more evenly?

Daniel Schildt Daniel Schildt

Good question. It's about quality, not quantity.

the most dangerous place in America is between me and a chicken wing.

Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.

there were some who believed, during the development of the railway, that a woman’s uterus could go flying out of her body if she accelerated to 50 miles per hour.

Blaming a medium or its creators for changing our minds and habits is like blaming food for making us fat.

we have to start taking responsibility ourselves for the information that we consume.

Fox News is in first place on the right, and MSNBC is second on the left. CNN sits at the bottom in the middle, providing real news that nobody wants to hear.

Our news networks have turned into affirmation distributors.

Andrew Doran Andrew Doran

Has got me thinking about some tweets I saw a couple of years ago that highlighted the fact that we follow people who have similar views to ourselves. Maybe Twitter should start suggesting people who are popular but very different to those we already follow.

These companies are all publicly traded corporations—ones with responsibilities to their shareholders to do their best to maximize profits. It’s called fiduciary responsibility, and this means driving down costs, increasing revenues, and growing the company. Every board member and every officer of a large corporation must grow their company and maximize shareholder wealth or face unemployment.

Andrew Doran Andrew Doran

When I first came to understand this, it really opened my eyes. If your company is publicly-traded then everything has to be done on the basis of maximising returns for your shareholders. This includes all the corporate social responsibility initiatives – everything. The officers in the firm can be sued by shareholders if they are found to be acting against the company's interest and reducing the share price. Forget whether Google or Apple are good or evil – the management of those firms are obligated to maximise returns.

Henrik Berggren Henrik Berggren

Thanks for sharing, did not know this. Crazy in a way.

Mr. Miller isn’t going to lose his life in a tragic blogging accident. But it also doesn’t sound like it was a particularly nice job to have.

A website has even been set up,, that allows you to paste in the copy of news articles to see how an article has been “churnalized”; how many times a press release has been copied and pasted across various sources in the UK.

Politics is the area in which scientists have studied the psychological causes of bias the most.

Andrew Doran Andrew Doran

Religion would probably be a good topic to explore too.

The seeds of opinion can be dangerous things. Once we begin to be persuaded of something, we not only seek out confirmation for that thing, but we also refute fact even in the face of incontrovertible evidence.

Andrew Doran Andrew Doran

The discussion on confirmation bias reminds me of something in Adam Curtis' documentary 'The Power Of Nightmares' - see In the late 1970s, people in the Republican administration said that the Soviet Union had a fleet of nuclear submarines that were a threat to the US. When they found no evidence of the submarines in the water from sonar pings, their conclusion was that the Soviets therefore had some new technology that meant that the submarines were undetectable by sonar! Excerpt from - "Dr ANNE CAHN, Arms Control and Disarmament Agency, 1977-80: They couldn't say that the Soviets had acoustic means of picking up American submarines, because they couldn't find it. So they said, well maybe they have a non-acoustic means of making our submarine fleet vulnerable. But there was no evidence that they had a non-acoustic system. They're saying, 'we can't find evidence that they're doing it the way that everyone thinks they're doing it, so they must be doing it a different way. We don't know what that different way is, but they must be doing it.' "INTERVIEWER (off-camera): Even though there was no evidence. "CAHN: Even though there was no evidence. "INTERVIEWER: So they're saying there, that the fact that the weapon doesn't exist. "CAHN: Doesn't mean that it doesn't exist. It just means that we haven't found it."

The more informed someone is, the more hardened their beliefs become; whether they’re correct is an entirely different matter.

Epistemic closure is a tool that empowers agnotological ignorance. As certain information is produced, all other sources of information are dismissed as unreliable or worse, conspiratorial.

It’s too high of a cognitive and ego burden to surround ourselves with people that we disagree with.

heretic (which comes from a Greek word meaning “choice”)

a diet isn’t about not eating—it’s about changing your consumption habits.

Consume deliberately. Take in information over affirmation.

the Internet is not only the best way to fill your mind with nonsense, it’s also the best way to get source-level information.

Reading on the iPad, for instance, is tough for me because my email is just a tap or two away.

proposing a list of information one should take in seems nearly reprehensible—who am I to tell you exactly what you should be reading?

I try to limit myself to no more than 30 minutes a day of mass affirmation, and strive to consume much less.

Andrew Doran Andrew Doran

Makes it sound so simple, I'm not sure that's the case.

Readability charges a minimum membership fee of $5.00 per month that you can increase to however much you want. It takes 30% of the membership fee as its own, then allocates the remaining 70% to the content providers that you read through the service. It’s an invisible, transparent way to support content providers without having to wade through advertisements.

Andrew Doran Andrew Doran

No longer!

For the amount of time I spend consuming things that I believe in, I try to spend twice as much time seeking information from sources that disagree with me.

Andrew Doran Andrew Doran

I get the concept and it is very noble, but – really?

transparency does more harm than good.

Andrew Doran Andrew Doran

I don't agree. I understand the point being made here in that transparency can distract from dishonesty, however isn't it part of the information dieter's job to try and see through this?

While transparency can help the problem, it alone cannot fix it.

Andrew Doran Andrew Doran

I agree on this point. Still, I think transparency is better than nothing at all.

If we really want to fix our government, we’ve got to be participants in the way government works, not who it employs.

Washington isn’t the land of vast, radical changes, it’s a battleship waiting to be nudged in the right direction.

Policy is something we should talk about at the dinner table

Andrew Doran Andrew Doran

I understand that there are cultural divides on this. Although a generalisation, a vigorous political debate at a dinner party in the UK or France would likely have everyone think what a good night it was whereas in the US the host would be more likely to think the evening was a disaster.

The ones who can link the public with the truth most effectively today aren’t journalists, they’re developers.

“The best minds of my generation are thinking about how to make people click ads.”