Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Improbable Sensation

The more unusual a phenomena is, the more sensational it can be. In other words, a common event is not sensational. Or at least it is difficult to describe in sensational terms.

The news media business depends on people being interested in the information they offer. Because sensational occurrences grab the attention of the observer more readily, they frequent news media in a much greater proportion than they do in the real world. In other words, improbable events fill the news.

Hence, if one were to assess the probability of occurrence for one of the many improbable events described in the news based on the frequency of those descriptions, they would end up with an assessment that is very far from accurate.

Oddly enough, the opposite is true about financial media. The financial media typically makes sensational descriptions of some of the most un-sensational news. That gives the reader the impression that everyday events are uncommon and more significant than they really are. I suppose that it's because most people are only interested in what they are invested in or the general economy at large. Hence, opportunity to grab the reader is limited to either stocks that a very large portion of the target audience is invested in, or something that reflects on the entire economy. Within those guidelines, they make it as sensational as they can.

No comments: