What if we did not reward the FIRST observation, but rather the MOST PRECISELY ACCURATE observation?

News media usually reward one of the first photos to appear after some “news event” occurs. It doesn’t really matter whether the photo in question is an adequate representation of the facts — what matters most (besides whether it arrives first in line) is whether the photo is outrageous.

Indeed, the photo may in fact obscure the facts… — but again: that simply doesn’t matter.

What if it did?

It is difficult to ascertain facts from photos, so let’s use another example.

Let’s say someone proposes that reducing the debt by 1% would increase economic growth by 1% (never mind whether you consider this statement preposterous or not). That statement could simply be measured, and it would be possible to ascertain whether the statement was accurate or inaccurate. Of course I would disappoint any statistician if I didn’t also mention precision. So let’s say that someone stated this thusly: “reducing the debt by 1% plus or minus 0.1% will lead to economic growth of 1% plus or minus 0.1%)”.

I would be willing to print that statement, quote that author, recognize that insight, etc. — and then 1 year later I could check if it was accurate or not. If it was accurate, I might nominate the person who said it for a Nobel prize; if it was inaccurate, I might throw tomatoes and rotten eggs.

If at the same time two different authors proposed two different statements — for example one might be more precise than the other (naming not plus or minus 0.1% growth, but rather plus or minus 0.01% economic growth), I might prefer the more precise statement… unless that authors track record were very poor compared to the author who was less precise. I might even go so far as to throw out any author who had made just 1 false statement (within the last 100 statements, or within the past year, or something like that).

My hunch is that this would be the main impact on the new media: We would no longer be burdened with “too much information”, because all of the bogus conjectures would be filtered out. The main reason we have too much information is that we are not discriminating enough regarding what we are willing to accept.

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