Summary of The Facts Are True, the News Is Fake

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In the wake of the 2016 US elections, Americans’ trust in the mass media has reached a historic low – for good reason, says world-renowned essayist and maverick thinker Nassim Nicholas Taleb. Those familiar with Taleb’s work know of his disdain for journalists (along with bankers and academics). This essay is yet another jab at a favorite straw man, but Taleb makes some intriguing points. Social media, he says, are restoring a more organic exchange of information that people have enjoyed for millennia. Taleb goes on to explain what ancient Talmudic and Christian scholars can teach modern society about “the art of disagreement.” getAbstract recommends Taleb’s short think piece to media professionals and information consumers of all stripes.

 

In this summary, you will learn

  • Why the collapse of the current mass-media system is inevitable,
  • What the great philosophers of the Western tradition can teach about the art of disagreement,
  • How public spaces can turn into self-regulating marketplaces for the two-way exchange of information.
 

About the Author

Nassim Nicholas Taleb is a scholar, risk analyst and bestselling author of The Black Swan, Fooled by Randomness and Antifragility.   

 

Summary

People’s almost exclusive reliance on the media for information is a recent phenomenon that began in the middle of the 20th century and ended with the 2016 US elections. In the traditional media, information flows one way: Journalists act as “intermediaries,” reporting on events and public pronouncements they deem newsworthy and often misinterpreting or taking facts out of context. Journalists have become preoccupied more with how they look among their peers than with the needs of the public. Financial squeeze and insecurity mark the media sector and create additional pressure to conform: “You say something unpopular in the profession about Brexit, GMOs, Putin, and you become history.”

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