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Life in the Gyre

I been watchin’ you watchin’ her watchin’ herself in the mirror.High Tone Woman, f

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  1. Avatar for nick nick says:

    Great piece, Rusty. I think it’s incredibly important to understand the mechanics of fiat news and “virality.” This piece does a nice job of laying that out.

  2. Nice piece, Rusty. I am definitely guilty of this. It’s SCARY how well you nailed my understanding of the current boarder crisis.

    On another note, I can’t help but think of the Mexican standoff scene from Reservoir Dogs while reading about the Panopticon and how society seems to be handling it.

  3. I started to make these comments under the election index, but didn’t. Now seems a good time.

    I am reminded of Daniel Boorstin’s book, The Image: A Guide to Pseudo Events in America. Pseudo events are the ones that cover the stories surrounding an event instead of the event itself. Think of all those Super Bowl articles and videos that are about how many people are covering the Super Bowl. How many hot dogs will be sold.

    The plot of stories around the debates were largely about the coverage of the debates., not the debate content. I did mental math at the time and come up with more than 40%. The stories about debate coverage had higher individual scores than any of the specific content subjects. The debate was a pseudo-event, designed to be covered, not taken seriously.

    The book is surely dated. I’ve not gone back to look at it. But it is informative for the day in which we find ourselves.

  4. I wonder how much of this echoing and commentary is meant primarily for publicity and the creation of buzz. Brett Stephens today decries the Jacobin’s in the latest Kaepernick nonsense and I have to think he and Nike are delighted at the publicity. They’re not selling sneakers to those of us who find outrage over the Betsy Ross flag risible, inane and unpatriotic.

  5. What I would like to know is where I can find the raw facts reported least passionately and most consistently? Any recommendations from other readers?

  6. Thanks, Nick!

  7. LOL I hadn’t thought of that but now I’m instantly regretting not using its imagery here.

  8. Those pseudo events are a subset of what we refer to more generally as abstractions. Not that they don’t refer to a real thing, but that they have meaning attached to them as a cartoon that is then applied in some abstraction layer to the main event itself. The pernicious difference between that approach and other methods of abstraction and Fiat News is that by selecting which “pseudo event” you are covering you can heavily skew the perception and narrative of the main event without ever having said anything false.

  9. Without getting too much into it, there is enough intellectual inconsistency in Kaepernick’s / Nike’s explanations of this versus the prior protest issues that lead me to a pretty skeptical / cynical place, too. (In short, I didn’t have a problem with the anthem protest because I chose to believe his intentions. This…is different) It is pure meme, and Nike is absolutely exploiting it. They’re owning a particular cartoon, even if it’s a divisive one. It’s working for them, and they’ll keep doing it. So, too, will conservative publications, for whom this is gold.

    All of these folks profit from our discord. The monetization of the widening gyre, if you will.

  10. We have done some work on this, although the list is lamentably flawed. You will be able to find anecdotes of terrible Fiat News behavior from each of these, but they have generally been more fact-based and less prone to Fiat News than average. Bear in mind that the opinion pages of these are still a no-man’s land for facts:

    • Reuters
    • Bloomberg
    • San Francisco Chronicle
    • Chicago Tribune

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