I learned about the Gell-Mann Amnesia Effect yesterday. At least, I knew about it before, I just didn’t know that it had a name.
Of course, it makes sense that it has a name, because now I can refer to it by that name, instead of having to explain exactly what I mean all the time.
In fact, I don’t have to explain what I mean at all, because Michael Crichton (yes, that one) has done it for me in this handy quote (Murray, by the way, is physicist Murray Gell-Mann):
I don’t believe anything I read in the media any more. I don’t believe the stuff that I’m told not to believe, and I don’t believe the people who are telling me not to believe that stuff. An example using popular partisan newsrooms: for me, CNN are not “the good guys”, they’re just “the other guys”; and just because FOX News is spewing out nonsense doesn’t mean that what CNN is telling us is the gospel truth.
I’ve noted and overcome the Gell-Mann Amnesia Effect with a million different publications which have shared articles on microbiology. And I’ve done it on here with the… ugh… Daily Mail.
And apparently also with Infowars dot com. I don’t really remember writing that post, but it does describe the Gell-Mann Amnesia Effect quite nicely:
…when I find that their version of the stuff I know is incorrect, then why should I believe any of the other articles on the site? For all I know, there are knowledgeable people out there ridiculing infowars’ take on 9/11 or the worldwide economic slowdown.
It’s horrible and it’s time-consuming to have to be so cynical, but it’s also sensible given the amount of information (and misinformation) that we are provided with each and every day. I’m lucky, in that researching stuff is in my nature. I really don’t mind following up on stories I read before I choose whether or not to believe them and I’ve done that for years and years now, before I even knew that it was an actual semi-official thing.
I’m now left wondering which of my other traits and practices have names in the field of theoretical psychology.
Sadly, I’d guess that it’s most of them.