What Learning about NLP Told me About the Media

I’m currently doing an online NLP course. I really just started and this course will take me quite a while to complete. To be honest, much of it I already know or am aware of yet the way the course is put together, I am seeing how things link together in ways I had not previously thought of. It is fascinating stuff.

In the last day or so, I have been learning about the conscious and unconscious mind, and generally how it is the mid works – at least according to NLP. One thing struck me immediately as interesting – that is that we each receive a vast amount of data every second – so much that we can’t really process it. So our mind deletes, distorts and generalizes that data into a usable set. Furthermore, the deletion, distortion and generalization takes place via multiple lenses that really represent our own individual model of the world – our reality if you will. The underlying actuality can be really rather different to how we end up seeing the world. This makes sense. As you sit reading this, are you still aware of the clock ticking or the traffic passing by outside? Do you need to be? Nope.

Now, if this is how our mind works it follows that models in our outside world will follow a similar model. What I mean is that we create things using tried and tested techniques and approaches. When we program computers, do we have them monitor everything or do we program them to collect only the data of interest to the task we are programming them for? There seems little point in having my PC game monitor the room temperature for example.

Recently, the media has come under a lot of scrutiny and rightly so. To me, media – mainstream media – lies and it lies pretty much all of the time. I think it deliberate. But is it? Mainstream media is essentially doing what our own mind does. It is collecting all sorts of information then deleting, distorting and generalizing according to its model of the world (bias). It has always done that I suppose. I do think the model has changed and is being changed however. It apparently is increasingly acceptable to delete, distort and generalize facts that simply do not agree with their model. It is increasingly easy for them to label those with alternate models and viewpoints ‘deniers’.

I have interacted with quite a few journalists in my time. I ran a successful PR firm (my own) for many years in Texas and marketing is one of my specialisms even in my role as commodities analyst now. These days, those writing the stories tend to be young, inexperienced and their model of the world has been influenced by ideologies. They were not taught to think critically and objectively anymore but rather in a post-modernist way – that is to see the world as competing groups always backing the minority. They fashion the news through that lens.

This helped me a lot understand why they talk of climate crisis, science and all of these key words in our modern world. Why they use fear to motivate (when I was growing up it was sex that was used to motivate – the page 3 girl etc.) and why they refuse to acknowledge any other point of view. They have dumbed down the world to their model of it and that is that. If you do not agree, then you are a denier and should be cancelled.

I don’t read the news anymore. Certainly not BBC, CNN etc. I do read some alternative sources – nothing too controversial – but not mainstream news. I do have to tolerate Reuters increasing abandonment of journalism in favor of propaganda in my job however. What I try to do is read the science. I Google and read the published papers in scientific and medical journals. Luckily I can do this (mostly anyway) as I have a science background that crosses climate, earth sciences, archeology, statistics, biology, chemistry and math by virtue of my own PhD research. I have published around 8 peer reviewed papers myself (or thereabouts), so I understand that process too. I am fortunate enough to have had the training and encouragement of a brilliant scientist whose last job was at NASA and has authored more ground breaking papers than anyone I know. In short, my model of the world has been shaped by that background as well as all the other things that shape our realities. That makes me a very fortunate minority. I am grateful.

The discrepancy between mainstream media (and therefore what the average person believes) and what I hold to be a truism is the source of my internal anger I have realised recently. It can and does make me a very grumpy person and occasionally, it can result in me lashing out in frustration. However, now I understand this, I can work on it. And I will.

However, what I wanted to say in this post is this. If you go to the scientific research and read it you will discover the following,

  1. Scientists do not at all agree on almost anything. The idea that there is scientific consensus is not just wrong but laughable. It is tantamount to good scientific method that there is debate, disagreement, argument and differing opinion. That is how science works,
  2. Political groups and lobbies like the IPCC, UN, WHO, CDC and so on, are not offering a balanced scientific view. They are politically motivated organizations and the reflect the politics of their paymasters not the scientific debate between true scientists,
  3. Anyway, science doesn’t prove it creates hypotheses. Strictly, our reasoning for the fact that planes fly is simply a hypothesis. Planes do fly. We can design planes that fly. But how they do so is simply a model of a reality and not the underlying actuality. It works though,
  4. The view of mainstream media on things like lockdowns, face masks, climate and vaccinations are not representative of the body of research by scientists at all. If you read the science, you may discover that face masks may cause more harm than good, that CO2 has little influence on atmospheric temperature and, yes, that hydroxychloroquine is effective in the fight against COVID (and is used extensively for that very purpose) and so much more.

In essence, the media serves to delete, distort and generalise world events on behalf of biases and a model of the world it has by virtue of who owns it, who works there and who it targets as its audience. It tells porky’s and the vast majority of people believe them.

3 thoughts on “What Learning about NLP Told me About the Media

  1. Through decades of writing articles for newspapers and magazines, writing fiction and researching writing, I’ve learned the writer writes an article with the goal of invoking a specific emotion. They emphasize the facts to this goal and leave out or treat lightly those facts that diminish the goal.

    More than a dozen years ago, I read an article in our small local press that talked about an extremely dangerous substance. They presented all the facts, including the one that a small amount of this substance in the human lung would kill. This article was written in an exercise of how facts are presented and getting that particular emotion from readers. The author did an excellent job and held out the name of this substance to near the end. What was that deadly substance that kills many each year? Water.

    Like you, I’ve ditched mainstream media and seek alternative sources. I don’t have a degree in science, but I’ve read a lot of articles. Each year in high school, I took the science classes because I wanted to learn more. I recall taking astronomy so I could do more math. I loved solving equations. Unlike the students in TV shows, I loved calculous.

    I don’t think this bias reporting is going to lead us to a better world. It is why I call this the Mediaeval times.

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  2. My brain works in odd ways. I learn things, but I often forget what they are called. I was in my 20s when, after watching many TV shows out of the United States that had students complaining about calculous, I learned what calculous was: my favourite math equations. I had never called it calculous; if I had known, perhaps I would have disliked it, too. Instead, I took scientific math in high school and all the physics and astronomy courses, which were heavy with equations. I also took biology, so most of my high school had been spent in the science ‘wing’

    I think my brain loves solving puzzles and solving problems.

    Have a great day.

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