Hidden news about the epidemic sweeping across America!

Summary: See the hidden horrific news about the epidemic sweeping across America, and why we see no headlines about it. This shows a core problem in America – and points to a solution.

Pandemic

Here is horrific news about the epidemic from the CDC’s Jan 25 report: there are 19 million cases in the US, 180,000 of which have been hospitalized – of whom approx. 10,000 have died (including 68 kids). For unknown reasons, the CDC and local health agencies do not have an exact count of either the number of cases or the deaths. Is this incompetence or corruption? Nor have they declared a pandemic alert and mobilized the full resources of the nation to fight this epidemic. Worse, journalists bury the news about it.

US cases of the flu as of CDC January 25 report

Yes, this is the flu, not coronavirus. Advice to Americans about measures to fight the flu might save the lives of thousands. Telling Americans about the epidemic’s progress would encourage us to take these simple effective measures. But it is not news.

As of today’s WHO report, so far there are 191 cases in the world outside China, one new nation affected in the past 3 days – and one death. The world’s population outside China is 6.4 billion. Nobody can reliably predict the future course of the epidemic. But misleading headlines about it are the news so far, especially portraying an epidemic in China as a global disaster (e.g., reporting global numbers without mentioning these are almost all in China).

CDC coronavirus report on Feb 5: 11 cases confirmed, 76 being tested, no deaths. “At this time, this virus is NOT currently spreading in the US. …For the general American public …the immediate health risk from 2019-nCoV is considered low at this time.”

The real story, as I said 12 days ago, is the rapid and powerful response by the world’s public health agencies – added by the wonders of modern technology. But selling fear is much more lucrative, so that is what the media does. There is a simple reason for this.

Bad money drives out good.
— Gresham’s Law, discovered in 1860 by Henry Dunning Macleod.

Gresham’s Law works as relentlessly gravity, as people use low-quality money and hoard high-quality money. Something similar occurs today in the US information markets – among the most free markets anywhere, ever. Good information gets less attention than sensational but dubious or even false information. We see this in every epidemic, such as Ebola and Swine Flu. We see this in the hysteria about climate change, which years ago cut loose from any foundation in climate science (e.g., here, here, and here).

But this is not the workings of a natural law (such as gravity) or rational choice (such as Gresham’s Law). It is our choice, rooted in our values. To survive, publishers of news and analysis provide the garbage that people want, and boring accurate information gets sidelined.

Cat sees lion in the mirror

The news is a mirror to America

Citizens need news. Subjects want entertainment.
— My law.

Most of American’s early leaders (especially Jefferson Andrew Jackson) saw the farmers, merchants, and craftsmen of America as the foundation of the Republic. These were economically independent citizens, interested and capable of self-government. But this class was wrecked during the Gilded Age. The outer party is their politically impotent remnants: corporate middle managers, small business owners, and professionals. They lack time for political involvement. More importantly, they lack the economic independence that Jefferson considered necessary for citizens, unlike the equally liberty-loving but feckless mobs of Paris (then and now).

The outer party is the largest body of people interested in current events and with the money to either pay for it or attract advertisers. It is a happy hunting ground for media firms. To survive they must understand what the outer party wants: simple stories that explain events in terms of good guys and bad guys. Cheer our team! Thrill at tales of the bad guys’ dastardly deeds! They want stories that provide entertainment and catharsis plus a sense of belonging to a community (a virtual tribe). Politically ineffectual, they want to believe themselves engaged. So they consume information to become well-informed and online comments (21st C letters to the editor).

This explains American’s disinterest in experts’ record of failed predictions and bad advice (e.g., scientist Paul Ehrlich on the Left, economist Larry Kudlow on the Right). So what if what we read about the world is inaccurate, since we have no intention of using this information? Collectors of maps do not care if the maps are correct. They want pretty maps with colorful dragons on edges. Only people with goals demand accurate charts.

“Not my fault” should replace “E pluribus unum” on coins, since it better fits a multicultural society than “One out of many.” Calls to risk “our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor” hit us like daylight on vampires. Saying “responsibility” can clear a room, since that would require us to act. We know that our problems come from the evil people of other tribes. We see ourselves as the passengers of the cruise ship America; we whine that the service is not worthy of our awesomeness.

Brilliant minds in the media business understand us, and so their products provide infotainment packaged as serious news and analysis. Fox was one of the first to realize this and the most determined to provide what we want — and so became the largest beneficiary from the evolution of Americans from citizens to subjects. To survive most of the news media must follow in their footsteps, or find patrons in the 1% to fund them (e.g., Jeff Bezos for the Washington Post, Pierre Omidyar at The Intercept).

Life moves fast on the internet, and the big nodes that get the traffic are those that give the outer party what it wants (posts about political reform on the FM website get 1/4 of the usual pageviews). This is the underlying story of fake news. For more about it, see The secret source of fake news. Its discovery can change America!

“Choice. The problem is choice.”
— Neo in The Matrix Reloaded.

For More Information

Ideas! For shopping ideas see my recommended books and films at Amazon. Also, see a story about our future: Ultra Violence: Tales from Venus.

This failure of the news media and our political system is an example of the broad institution failure I discuss in A new, dark picture of America’s future.

Please like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter. For more information see all posts about the COVID-19 epidemic, about RussiaGateabout propaganda, about ways to reform America’s politics, and especially these …

  1. Describing the problem: Marx was right. Social class explains American politics. He was a lousy economist, but a great sociologist.
  2. We cannot agree on simple facts and so cannot reform America.
  3. Important advice: Learning skepticism, an essential skill for citizenship in 21st century America. About “extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof.”
  4. A nation lit only by propaganda.
  5. The secret, simple tool that persuades Americans. That molds our opinions.
  6. Remembering is the first step to learning. Living in the now is ignorance.
  7. Swear allegiance to the truth as a step to reforming America.
  8. We live in an age of ignorance, but can decide to fix this – today.
  9. American politics is a fun parade of lies, for which we pay dearly.
  10. Ways to deal with those guilty of causing the fake news epidemic.
  11. The secret source of fake news. Its discovery will change America.
  12. The NY Times reveals itself and what news we’ll see in 2020.

Propaganda rules America! Read all about it!

Propaganda by Edward Bernays (1936). “The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in a democratic society. Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country.”

Media Control: The Spectacular Achievements of Propaganda by Noam Chomsky (2002). “Propaganda is to a democracy what the bludgeon is to a totalitarian state.”

"Propaganda" by Edward Bernays.
Available at Amazon.
"Media Control: The Spectacular Achievements of Propaganda" by Noam Chomsky.
Available at Amazon.

 

2 thoughts on “Hidden news about the epidemic sweeping across America!”

  1. One thing that may be hidden in the statistics is that influenza was just the final disease of the sick and immune system compromised people, like those with cancer or the elderly. These deaths are common if the people are poor and live in overcrowded, damp and cold houses, or have limited access to medical care. Is the death rate similar for say Canada to the USA? Bill Bryson makes that point in his latest book. Since 1956, no one in the US has died of old age. They now have to die of something. And those that are really sick succumb to any opportunistic infection, of which the flu is the most common. My wife, who had Stage 4 breast cancer, had the flu listed as her primary cause of death on her death certificate, with pleurisy below that and cancer as third.
    I have serious cancer at present, which I hope the chemo is seriously addressing, but I am trying hard to avoid contact with potentially illness infected people. The corona virus doesn’t worry me, but the flu does. As soon as this season’s vaccine becomes available, I will be first in the line for a shot. And I will get a booster about three months in, especially if the stem cell transplant goes ahead.
    Newspapers have wound up publicity over the Wusan problem well beyond what it rationally deserves. They have been helped by Public Health officials who see the power they can exert and gain. It seems the coronavirus has a death rate of 2-3%. What is the rate for annual winter flu?

  2. I think one of the details that helps keep this cycle going is that people have been inculcated with the idea that they need to stay informed, which has been helpfully teased into “You need to watch our content and be upset at every thing the other team does,” whichever team it may be. However, “staying informed” is considered virtuous, even when it has reached the point of self-abuse.

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