The panicking majority

If only we could hammer this into people's heads (by way of Schneier):
Worse, because many reporters are statistically illiterate, personal-injury lawyers get us to hype risks that barely threaten people, like secondhand smoke, or getting cancer from trace amounts of chemicals. Sometimes they even con us into scaring you about risks that don't exist at all, like contracting anti-immune disease from breast implants.
There's a lot more interesting stuff in the article.

The problem is, people who understand this are exceptional. You and me who read this, we're exceptional. To a much greater extent than you or me, the world is populated by moms who panic at the sight of a paedophile discovery on TV, and they react by prohibiting their kids from playing outside, because they perceive that someone will kidnap them.

The only way to fix this would be to recognize that most people are sheep, and treat them that way. Feed them news in a format that won't cause country-wide panic. Regulate the most appealing presentation forms in which information is presented to the masses: the most visual, most graphic and least intellectually challenging forms in which information is presented, and which the majority consume. Filter content "for your benefit" - essentially the way communist nations do. But simultaneously, permit perfect freedom in the forms of publishing that are more intellectually demanding. Science writing - publish all. Six o'clock news - filter for sheep content.

But on the other hand - the only real reason why panicking sheep are problematic is because they have the same voting rights as you and me. Because of the panicking sheep, we have unwelcome public policy ramifications. But if we adopt an improvement on democracy that:
  1. ensures that the majority cannot oppress minorities, and
  2. ensures that the most well-thought-out opinions get the most influence in public policy,
then there's no need to regulate as strictly on what it is that the masses watch. If the qualified few are the ones who make the decisions anyway, this solves most of the public policy ramifications of media-induced country-wide panics. The qualified few can decide to what extent and with what means to prevent such panics from escalating.

Controversial? You bet. "We are all created equal" - the original fallacy on which most of the idiocy in today's politics is based. But it is possible to construct an alternative that takes into account people's nature, and yet avoids the pitfalls of totalitarianism, communism, anarchy and monarchy.


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