"In the case of any person whose judgment is really deserving of confidence, how has it become so? .... Because he has felt, that the only way in which a human being can make some approach to knowing the whole of a subject, is by hearing what can be said about it by persons of every variety of opinion, and studying all the modes in which it can be looked at by every character of mind. No wise man ever acquired wisdom in any mode but this...." ~ John Stuart Mill
A long-time TFP reader sent me an email with the subject line, "Objective News Blog." Here's the contents of the email:
Even as I typed the subject line above, I thought..."how is that possible?"
I am trying to find a daily blog that might offer a more impartial view of the world/US news. I want to find a resource that keeps me informed, while causing me to think about what's happening.
Don't want to be force-fed yet another subjective point of view, but rather, to read the possible scenarios/interpretations, that might be considered as I attempt to make up my own mind. Does such a site exist?
I turn to you, because for several years now, I have really enjoyed reading your blog. You seem to be a very reflective and introspective man, who is interested in genuinely helping others to find their own path...,and, not to be swept away by whatever the latest craze is. I thank you for your wisdom, and any advice you might offer on my search.
We live in most interesting times.
I do not believe there are any truly objective media sources of any kind, including blogs. This is not a cynical view; it's simply a statement about human nature. Mass media, for example, does not exist to provide useful information or to seek truth; it exists to sell advertising by providing information that captures the attention. News can be factual but, in a world of split-second attention spans, the headlines must provoke some kind of emotion to hold the attention of news consumers beyond 10 seconds.
"There is no conversation more boring than the one where everybody agrees." ~ Michel de Montaigne
Blogs can be a greater source of information because the bias toward any particular world view or ideology is often apparent to the reader. However, although blogs are much more transparent in their purpose, this also means that many blogs are less objective than mainstream media. Unfortunately, what often occurs is that readers tend to seek blogs that agree with their own ideas.
The caution here is confirmation bias, which is the tendency to seek out information that confirms your existing beliefs and affirms your pre-conceived notions. This is an ego-driven pursuit and the reader, in my humble opinion, is not able to find any objectivity or balanced information in this way.
"To a philosopher all news, as it is called, is gossip, and they who edit and read it are old women over their tea." ~ Henry David Thoreau
The solution is to create what I call a portfolio of blogs and to try your best not to get caught up in "news," which is actually noise. Instead, try to find a variety of sources of information that provoke thought rather than anxiety. Similar to an investment portfolio, you also need diversity for a balanced approach. For example, if you read information that provokes and challenges your existing beliefs and biases, you'll be enabled to grow and maintain a well-balanced perspective toward the world and hopefully toward your self.
With that said, I'll share just a few links within my blog portfolio and ask readers to share some of theirs:
The Big Picture: This blog is the core of my portfolio because it provides a wide variety of intelligently written articles on the world economy, financial markets, social media, music and just about anything that touches modern humanity.
Get Rich Slowly: Most personal finance blogs do little more than make people more anxious about their money. Author JD Roth (no relation to Roth IRA) has a powerful talent to make information on money easy to understand but he also delivers it through the philosophy that money is only a tool for a life well-lived; whereas many financial sites continue to imply that life is a tool for money.
Coffee Theory: Author Greg Linster is a TFP reader but also someone I consider a fellow philosopher and virtual world friend. He provokes thought and challenges readers to find their own inner truths. I've had many online conversations with Greg. We don't always agree but always help eachother come closer to truth--a dialogue.
GoodLife Zen: As the name implies, author Mary Jaksch and her guest authors primarily write on subjects that have eastern philosophy (Zen Buddhism and Taoist) themes. For me, this blog helps balance my other blogs that lean more toward western ideas and philosophies.
What are you reading? Have you mindfully constructed a portfolio of reading material? If so, how has it helped you? Later, I'll share more of my favorite blogs in comments.