Nick Offerman is not an overswirler. Image Source: Lagavulin, YouTube. Every evening in five

Want to continue reading this and the other 1,500+ essays you won't find anywhere else?

Already a subscriber? log in here

To learn more about Epsilon Theory and be notified when we release new content sign up here. You’ll receive an email every week and your information will never be shared with anyone else.


  1. Speaking from personal experience only, there are some topics which I never go noseblind to. Even if there is a lack of coverage for a period of time on a particular pet topic, my sniffer is always on the lookout for it. I’ll bet others do this too.
    But how many topics fit that description, and how deep is my bias for having those specific topics lodged in the brain? A couple dozen out of potentially hundreds or even thousands? I can do better, but how? Maybe the beginning of an answer is developing here.
    The y-axis of your graphs show “% of topics at peak news flow share”, all starting at 100%. Might there be utility in having a quantitative element with number of news articles here to illustrate breadth of coverage per topic? It would be interesting to see if the ones which spike the highest initially correlate to those with a longer lifespan.
    It would be useful to have a list of topics which the “politically diverse ET team” views as important long term. The Pack can suggest inputs here too, in case something is missed, and perhaps even vote on it for inclusion to a list. What would the ideal number be? If we vote one in, do we have to vote one out?
    Coffee cup #1 went dry 15 minutes ago. Gonna see if #2 has had enough time to reset olfactory habituation

  2. There is utility in that to answer some questions, I think, but differences in scale between those stories mean you inevitably end up with a few dozen charts to present the data in a way that conveys that utility. It also makes any underlying tendencies or biases in our dataset - which is very large but not complete - somewhat exaggerated to view it in that way. Coverage share by a fixed group of large-scale topics IS something we intend to make a standard part of the Fiat News subsite, but even then our predisposition is probably to present it as a percentage of newsflow (although that does capture the volume more directly).

    The Fiat News subsite will have aggregates of topics at different levels. The top level will present both coverage density and fiat news density over time for things at the “US Politics”, “US Markets” or “US Economy” scale. The next level down will break those aggregates into smaller chunks. Right now we have a list of five top level aggregates and twenty-five second level aggregates we plan to track. From there, the question will or could be how we want to track things that are less “topics” than they are explicit stories, and for how long. I think that’s where we’d benefit from feedback from the Pack. Much like you observe about yourself, we are humans that have our own sets of things we keep an eye on. Wherever we can be systematic about incorporating new ideas at that third level, all the better.

    In the absence of a systematic mechanic we all feel comfortable with, I’m very open to the third level being user-driven, or at the very least heavily user-influenced.

  3. Am I wrong in thinking Nixon does not get impeached in this current environment?

  4. Not wrong. It was other Republican’s that broke the dam. Not today.

  5. Avatar for Laura Laura says:

    I was curious about that and know you’ve mentioned it before in notes. Is the corpus all financial press, public and private, in the US or is it more expansive than that?

    I think this is really a must for the ethics of ET in a purpose aligned operation!

    I’d also like to nominate one extremely newsworthy story for a test of its half life as well as like a heat map of its geographic penetration: the BLM protests and how they were used as an “accelerant” by the likes of the Boogaloo Boys and other anti-government militia groups to take advantage of political unrest to try and seed a civil war in the US. Call me a socialist, if that’s all you’ve got, but I think it’s an extremely newsworthy story with giant legs.

    Boogaloos like Air Force lieutenant Steven Carrillo used cover of POLITICAL PROTESTS to INCITE RIOTS (and in Steven’s case MURDER POLICE), and this happened in different areas of the country including the Bay Area, Las Vegas, and others I’m now forgetting. That was before Trump gave the command to Proud Boys to “stand back and stand by” and before these types joined their Christofascist comrades and an assortment of highly suggestible, low information Trump voters radicalized largely on the internet during a pandemic to storm the US Capitol after being called to spiritual arms by the NAR’s shofars and a very belligerent vitamin pusher that I still maintain needs a really good, hard kick in the nuts and some time in a maximum security prison filled with cellmates that know people killed in school shootings. Sorry for the run on but had to get it all out!

    This story really stays with me for reasons hitting at all circles of salience for me: the enemy within our military, the Sagebrush Rebellion and its heirs and related echoes of the Crusades, the murder of a sheriff and a federal security officer by a boogaloo when I’d seen an old friend in Idaho get sucked into that on Facebook in this same time frame, some of the people I grew up with in Wyoming getting similarly radicalized on Facebook as seen in their shared death cult images of a stylized Punisher as they railed against “rioters”, the constant (and persistent) willful conflation of legitimate protest and rioting, and last but not least the incredible story of heroism from the citizen in Ben Lomond who tackled the murderous traitor Carrillo before the police could find him and arrest him. This was after Carrillo had ambushed a county sheriff and attempted to hijack an escape vehicle, and after he’d written with his blood on the hood of another car these phrases: “boog”, “I became unreasonable”, and “stop the duopoly”. The story is just incredible from a storytelling perspective and it has all kinds of ongoing relevance for politics, tech, and society.

    Yet I believe there is some fundamental relationship between proximity and salience of information contained in narratives/stories. That proximity might be mostly geographical but it could also be thought of in terms of communities we participate in. I think this story has stuck with me because it was a local one during the most heated days of the pandemic and because I care a lot about these militia types and have a frame of reference for that having grown up in Wyoming.

  6. Not all, and not US-only. It is a really expansive dataset of English-language sources from both the US and abroad that we scrape (to a lesser extent) or buy directly (to a much greater extent) from Factiva and Lexis Nexis, two of the primary commercial vendors of this kind of data. We have two vendors because it was important to us to ensure we had 99%+ coverage of the largest 50-100 sources in each of news website, newspaper and blogs, plus the major newswires and large regional representation (usually the largest papers and sites in English in large foreign countries). There are holes in each of their coverage rosters.

    I absolutely hear you on this.

    I’d also like to push back a little bit, not because I don’t think we might discover exactly what you’re talking about, and not because I don’t think what you’re saying would matter if we did discover it, but because I think that an analysis that started with this prior would absolutely reflect this prior.

    Wouldn’t the right way to approach this simply be to start from the analysis of BLM Protests as a news story in comparison to other comparable news stories, to explore how affected language was used in that coverage, then dive into clusters of sub-topics and framing to see whether language indicative of what you describe was present and influential?

    That is, I personally don’t think the characterization of third-level news stories we track should answer the question they should be asking, But it’s possible I’m missing something in the idea or the potential in this approach. Happy to hear it, if so!

  7. For a variety of reasons including the length of news cycles today, no, I don’t think you are wrong.

  8. Then the water which is the “news cycle” has changed and it is in my own self-interest to learn how to swim in this new water.
    Then the water which is the “education system” has changed and it is in my own self-interest to learn how to swim in this new water.
    The running theme across ET notes for me personally is that I can’t change the water. I can however work on myself to better recognize the changes in the water and make different choices based on the new water.

  9. I won’t say that you shouldn’t believe that. I will say that it is not exactly what I believe, anyway, or what I’m at least trying (and often failing, probably!) to convey.

    I don’t think the water can be changed by relying solely on the tools that create and maintain it. I think we can take actions as you describe that, in concert with others of like mind, can have the effect of creating new pools in which to swim. And maybe, just maybe, those can become the new water. As below, so above.

  10. Avatar for Laura Laura says:

    I hear you that I used biased language. That was on purpose as I’m self aware enough to realize this is also a platform here on ET! :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

    And I appreciate the push back. How might we find the salient characteristics of this story as it relates to our experiences of the world? My experience of it here in SF is obvs different than yours. That’s why I sort of added my qualifier at the end that this one really sticks with me, i.e. I haven’t become noseblind, but that may be because of where I live and my network and personal interests. Hence my wanting some sort of heat map to see where these stories live, which is different/additional to the approach you outline. And as I type this out I think it could also be interesting to add additional data to the corpus.

    I am reminded of an event I went to here in SF that was a talk by someone from the Internet Archive. They were announcing how they were now going to be adding radio to their archives and mentioned how that is actually the media channel through which a lot of Americans receive their political information. If you think about the rise of shock jock types over the last few decades this is obvious. If you’d heard that talk or watched the documentary The Brainwashing of My Dad or if you are a truck driver or construction worker that needs to fill up lots of quiet hours working with your hands you’d maybe have a greater awareness for that. I don’t mean you, Rusty, just the impersonal you btw.

Continue the discussion at the Epsilon Theory Forum

13 more replies


Avatar for bhunt Avatar for rguinn Avatar for Zenzei Avatar for jpclegg63 Avatar for Desperate_Yuppie Avatar for BScaletta Avatar for acoates Avatar for RobMann Avatar for Laura Avatar for rechraum Avatar for Eric714 Avatar for robocop904 Avatar for pdonohoo

The Latest From Epsilon Theory


This commentary is being provided to you as general information only and should not be taken as investment advice. The opinions expressed in these materials represent the personal views of the author(s). It is not investment research or a research recommendation, as it does not constitute substantive research or analysis. Any action that you take as a result of information contained in this document is ultimately your responsibility. Epsilon Theory will not accept liability for any loss or damage, including without limitation to any loss of profit, which may arise directly or indirectly from use of or reliance on such information. Consult your investment advisor before making any investment decisions. It must be noted, that no one can accurately predict the future of the market with certainty or guarantee future investment performance. Past performance is not a guarantee of future results.

Statements in this communication are forward-looking statements. The forward-looking statements and other views expressed herein are as of the date of this publication. Actual future results or occurrences may differ significantly from those anticipated in any forward-looking statements, and there is no guarantee that any predictions will come to pass. The views expressed herein are subject to change at any time, due to numerous market and other factors. Epsilon Theory disclaims any obligation to update publicly or revise any forward-looking statements or views expressed herein. This information is neither an offer to sell nor a solicitation of any offer to buy any securities. This commentary has been prepared without regard to the individual financial circumstances and objectives of persons who receive it. Epsilon Theory recommends that investors independently evaluate particular investments and strategies, and encourages investors to seek the advice of a financial advisor. The appropriateness of a particular investment or strategy will depend on an investor’s individual circumstances and objectives.