But nobody wants to read good news
Why not some compendium of good news posts? Sure it might not pull numbers but you can document the good news and share it with tour readers. The mailbag are fun but a monthly "what's good?" Roundup would also be a nice break from the normal pieces.
Fake news — I had to take a dip in the Charles last night because I lost a bet and it was as filthy as ever.
With apologies in advance for exercising what I absolutely acknowledge is one of my primary letters-to-the-editor-guy crank opinions and one which I’ve flogged here in the SB comments before…
I really do think that an underrated consequence of relentless eco-doomerism has been the rise of the neo-nativist movements. If you tell people, over and over again, that catastrophe is imminent and that all efforts thus far to head it off have been laughably insufficient, it is an entirely normal human reaction to say “well, I guess we’d better just pull up the drawbridge and hope for the best.”
A green movement that was a little more focused on touting its successes (“hey, air that doesn’t cause asthma and rivers that don’t catch on fire and give you tetanus are pretty great, right? We brought you that and we’d like more of it!”) and less on screaming that the sky was falling would be a much more effective one, and importantly would be so _even if the sky really is falling_.
(There’s a longer rant here about how a certain strain of eliminationist thinking has been entwined in the “ecological” movement from Muir onwards and how neofascist stroke-material book “The Camp of the Saints” was just Erlich’s “The Population Bomb” rewritten as explicit rather than implicit, but I’ll forbear…)
People may be reluctant to advertise their love of good news for fear of being smeared as pollyannamorous.
I’ve tried to cultivate positivity in my news consumption and one thing that has helped is being into discovery based academic fields. In particular I follow news on biology and about archeology and new things are being discovered all the time. It’s great!
"...measuring people’s skin conductivity as an index of emotional response..."
The thing that really makes my blood boil about these skin-conductivity tests is that they really amount to nothing more than measuring the flow of electrons. Talk about your negativity bias!
If I were to point to one major shortcoming of this blog, it’s the stunning lack of week-by-week updates on good news about clean water.
This is what Upworthy aimed to fix, but you’ll never guess what happened to them.
Reminds me of the time some right-wing culture warrior complained on Twitter about how the “hole in the Ozone layer” hype was all BS because why does no one talk about it anymore? And I believe Matt said something like, “who’s going to tell him....?”
Edit to add: Found it! https://twitter.com/mattyglesias/status/1549745002246508544
I’ve been reading a lot of good things about the omnibus bill, but that’s because I’ve been seeing right wing organizations and media outlets reporting about all of the things they find objectionable about it. Just look at these screenshots:
Sometimes the quickest way to get some good news is to listen to really reprehensible organizations delivering what they consider to be bad news.
Incidentally, Ed Miliband's podcast (yes if you fail to become PM in the UK you start a podcast) is called reasons to be cheerful and ia dedicated to a more optimistic take on what's happening.
The bounce back of the whales will also be useful for when that probe shows up in 2286 looking to chat with them. It'll save Kirk and crew the trouble of going back to the 1990s to bring some whales back
I was listening to the most recent Bad Takes this morning and since my husband grew up in the San Fernando Valley, the part about Smog Alerts peaked my interest. I realized that it would be hard to convince most young people that the air they breathe is cleaner than the air we breathed as children because the narrative of environmental change is one of progressive decline. I am not suggesting that the greenhouse gas emissions problem isn't enormous and terrible, it just struck me that it would be cognitively challenging to persuade them that some things have improved because of government actions taken to limit emissions.
"...suddenly “holy shit, they’re trying to take all this stuff away” became a gripping negative story."
Loss-aversion pushes in the same direction as negativity bias, though it's a distinct phenomenon (or at least, not all negativity-bias is loss-aversion).
Our species’s general negativity bias is why I recommend “Factfulness” by Hans Rosling to basically anyone who will listen. When you remember that the broad, underlying trends of the world bend toward progress, it’s remarkably easier to digest each day’s scorched-Earth headlines.
I really enjoyed this post. In general, I love secret congress posts. The idea that our government works much better than it appears to (and chooses to appear to) is really fascinating.
Two more things I would love to hear from Matt on:
I read this morning that the Omnibus has a bunch of buried good provisions on election reform/response to Jan 6, thoughts?
I wonder to what extent members of congress are explicitly aware of the notion of a secret congress passing substantive legislation underneath the veneer of unreasonableness. Are there any members who present as extremely unreasonable while in fact they participate actively in this secret congress activity? Which members of leadership are active in or opposed to these type of secret congress activites?