Karl Popper on the danger of the media

Karl Popper did some interviews with an Italian journalist in 1991. They appeared in a book The Lesson of This Century.

He regarded himself as an optimist because he was convinced that the western democracies achieved a level of broad-based prosperity and freedom that was unprecedented, despite the desperate and even hysterical condemnation of democratic capitalism by the usual suspects.

However he attached a caveat to him optimism.

OPTIMISM AND THE DANGER OF THE MEDIA

Fortunately the truth is easy to verify: the truth that we in the West live in the best world that has ever existed. We cannot allow this truth to go unsaid. The media, which are the most guilty in this respect, need to be convinced that they are causing great harm. They must be persuaded to do their bit. The media must be persuaded to see and tell the truth, to realize the hidden danger that they themselves represent, to develop a self-critical attitude (as any healthy institution does), and to correct themselves. This is a new task for them. But they are doing great harm. And unless they cooperate, it will be almost impossible to remain an optimist.

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22 Responses to Karl Popper on the danger of the media

  1. Baldrick

    Fortunately the truth is easy to verify: the truth that we in the West live in the best world that has ever existed.

    Of course Muzzies are only flocking to the West for our protection. Not for any financial benefits.
    / sarc off

  2. daggers

    That’s so prescient about the media and the damage it does. Popper was incredible.

  3. Leo G

    A trailer for the Roy and Crooks film Surving Progress, that was shown on ABCTV in June last year (and iView) demonstrates the problem:

    Things progress to the extent that they change, but when they reach a certain scale they turn out to be dead ends.
    Technological progress threatens the very existence of technology
    Massive inequality, climate change, the loss of biodiversity have been driven over the past 200 years by a system of overproduction
    Unlimited economic progress in a world with finite natural resources is bound to collapse
    If we can move from non consumption to consumption, then we can also move back from consumption to non-consumption
    We are essentially Stone Age hunters

    Get the picture?

  4. John Comnenus

    Transparency International’s global corruption barometer shows that Australians consider that our media is amongst the world’s most corrupt.

    Surely someone needs to do something about this corruption in the media

  5. Ant

    Quite prophetic.

    The media is now well and truly part of the political class and vice versa.

    We had recently one politician who went against the flow – Abbott – but we saw what happens when you’re not considered suitably subservient to their will; and the fanatical Abbott hatred continues unabated. I suppose they’ll calm down when he’s dead. Who will they have to kick around after that, I wonder?

    In a properly functioning western democracy the media should abhor the idea of being part of the political class.

    Ideally, they should be polar opposites and in a constant state of (non-violent) conflict.

  6. Ant

    These days when we slam the media, we normally aren’t ‘shooting the messenger’, but the propaganda arm of the political class.

  7. Big_Nambas

    And unless they cooperate, it will be almost impossible to remain an optimist
    For optimist substitute “Conservative”

    For optimist substitute “Libertarian”

    Obviously no one at Fairfax or the ABC has read or understood this statement.

  8. Leo G

    Damn technological dead-end iPad keyboard!
    The film is Surviving Progress. The worst part of the dishonesty in this production, is the premise that “the problem” commenced 200 years ago by a white men’s club that kicked started the industrial revolution and modern capitalism.
    The film is based on the book A short history of progress, by anthropologist Ronald Wright. But Wright’s central argument was that ” the 10,000-year experiment of the settled life has been charactarized by environmental destruction and economic inequality.”
    Wright believes that we have to look back to the end of the last ice age, after which arose all the disparities in wealth and power. Civilisations are “progress traps” which we must learn to do without, if we are to survive.

  9. Nicholas (Rule yourselves!) Gray

    I think I saw a professional doommonger on Q+A, last night. Ehrlick. Didn’t he go big on disasters in the seventies? Aren’t we all supposed to be dead by now?
    As for limits, the sun will give us all we need! Eventually solar power will be much better than it is today, thanks to Western Science. A British Uni recently announced a new type of glass, which passes ordinary light, but converts infra-red light into electricity.
    And in the future, I believe we’ll build space stations dedicated to the task of capturing plasma (protons and electrons expelled by the sun) by using solar panels for power, and combining the particles back into usable hydrogen, to sell to spacecraft. We could also build up all types of atoms, literally all from scratch, once we learn how to build neutrons. So we need never run out of resources, if we use our brains.

  10. blogstrop

    The media must be persuaded to see and tell the truth, to realize the hidden danger that they themselves represent, to develop a self-critical attitude (as any healthy institution does), and to correct themselves. This is a new task for them. But they are doing great harm. And unless they cooperate, it will be almost impossible to remain an optimist.

    That horse bolted some time back.

  11. Zyconoclast

    I think I saw a professional doommonger on Q+A, last night. Ehrlick. Didn’t he go big on disasters in the seventies? Aren’t we all supposed to be dead by now?

    Not necessarily dead, wishing you were dead is sufficient.

  12. 3d1k

    A huge and deeply concerning subject.

    Don’t even know where to begin. At the beginning perhaps, the reader. Not demanding enough, not questioning enough, prepared to be spoon-fed news or increasingly opinion, disguised as news. We the reader need retain a skeptical eye but as Huxley foretold and Postman observed, we appear destined to Amusing Ourselves to Death.

    Our tertiary institutions – the lack of diversity therewithin. Silencing the non-groupthink. Banning alternative opinion. University graduated journalists – whilst devouring Chomsky undergo a brainwashing of all their own – bowing to the mantra of faded political activists masquerading as purveyors of journalistic integrity.

    The digital age and the rise of the Fifth Estate. The gradual morphing of much journalism into narcissistic opinionated narrative cognisant of the curious mix of power and irrelevancy. Again, a continuation of the homogenisation of opinion largely driven by an ideological agenda, conscious or otherwise, that broadly rejects Western culture and panders to some Arcadian pre-industrialisation First Peoples nirvana.

    Readers retreat to the tribal comforts offered by media entities catering to particular views and the vice turns again.

  13. Perhaps academia, which educates/trains the people that make up the media, was the source of the problem. Popper does warn about state education turning into indoctrination.

  14. Rabz

    There are several quite simple steps that could be taken to defang the crazed zombie meeja in this country.

    – Shut down the ALPBC
    – Shut down or privatise SBS (I’d prefer the former)
    – Revoke the commercial FTA channels’ “social” and broadcasting licenses
    – Facilitate the collapse of Fauxfacts (this could be done in several ways)
    – Cease taxpayer funding of the Conversation

    Of course, none of the suggestions above will ever happen. The only likely eventualities are that Fauxfacts and the FTA channels duly collapse – given they have no sustainable audience, their business model is a relic of the mid twentieth century (or earlier) and they’re effectively insolvent.

    If idiots want to read/watch/listen to offensive leftist garbage, they can well bloody well pay for the privilege. Nowadays there are a whole assortment of free and subscription media options available to those interested. Nobody has a right to be brainwashed, or fed shopworn leftist talking points woven into every current narrative, masquerading as fact, on my taxes.

    What really gives me the proverbials is that my taxes are used to propagate vile leftist propaganda via the ALPBC and SBS – both in flagrant breach of their “social licenses”.

    Of course that preposterous, waffling windbag is entirely happy with the status quo, given the meeja dinosaurs identified above are so innovative, agile and disruptive (and they have their collective tongues up his unmentionable).

  15. Ant

    Rabz, I’d be happy with only your first suggestion.

    Or, at the very least, I just wish the Libs would do to the ABC what Labor would do to it if it was as pro-conservative as it is pro-left.

  16. Tel

    We cannot allow this truth to go unsaid. The media, which are the most guilty in this respect, need to be convinced that they are causing great harm.

    When the choice is to beg the perpetrator or arm the victim, the former never, never works.

    Popper did a little of each, bless him. The media are well aware they are doing great harm and the could give a $#!+.

  17. cohenite

    The West faces 2 existential threats: isalm and alarmism. And the msm is complicit in supporting both.

    Journalists do what they do not because of a moral integrity; they are motivated by ego and ideology; they are also tribal which means their morality is bureaucracised. They don’t inform, they tell and filter. And lie.

  18. Simon/other

    I thought we lived in democracy, so what is the media? As free people we must be continually tested and scrutinized by ourselves. The modern media lazily does this but it still happens. We are constantly vexed and yet regardless of the original intention these journalists and marketers only concentrate and focus our personal values and thoughts by this irritation and flagellation. The media easily and readily distinguishes those incapable of developing independent values. These people despite being incited to distrust and dislike individualism are not the enemy but the battle ground itself. They are not believers but docile functionaries looking for rewards. The media is just giving them what they want. The real problem is changing what they want. This has always been the failing of esoteric causes. If you want these people to buy fly spray you don’t show them the product you show them the bug. Our side is too busy explaining the ingredients rather than magnifying distaste. Fortunately the media have achieved this for us, not intentionally, contrary to their personal motives they daily remind everyone of current nuisances. I might be wrong but… to me these media fools cannot do anything evil without it working beneficially for all.

  19. Dimon / other:

    I might be wrong but… to me these media fools cannot do anything evil without it working beneficially for all.

    I disagree. They do a great deal if preventable and irreversible harm. Cattle industry – GG Hollingworth – child care centre moral panics of the ’80s; Recovered memory magnification; worldwide force multiplier for terrorists; teaching and rewarding retards to commit mass shootings, including the copycat Port Arthur massacre and the Brievik killings.

  20. Alfonso

    An excellent example is NZ where nothing happens, so much must be created to fill the airtime of three tv channels. Talk about examining your own faeces with a microscope. The problem is rawest when minor traffic accidents fill the space that exhausted Maori activists cannot, though they try heroically.
    NZ news is split between “authorities say” and rent seekers.

  21. Boambee John

    Ant at 1132 yesterday,

    The hysteria, amounting almost to panic, in the MSM because Abbott666 is still in Parliament, shows how much they fear that Maocolm will fail and Abbott666 will return.

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