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Is it ever possible to work out whether media are biased? Bias may be in the eye of the beholder, and perhaps we are all too prone to seeing bias whenever our preferences are challenged.

One way is to study the stated political preferences of journalists, and to compare them with national political preferences as shown by election results. Will journalists be to the left, to the right, or bang in the middle of the national political dimension?

Before getting into that topic, start with another question: why would anyone be a journalist? The only qualification is to be able to write, which most people can do. Having an opinion helps, but other skills are not essential. If you want to write on any topic, you simply ring people up, interview them, and write up your story. If people read it, you are a journalist.

Seen from a career point of view, writing things is not a very exclusive occupation. The bar to entry is not high. Teaching maths at school is more demanding, as are keeping accounts, servicing washing machines and repairing engines.

Nonetheless, why be a journalist when you can do other things? One commonly stated reason is: To make a difference. By implication, journalists want to change things by exposing them.

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/353756955_The_Left-liberal_Skew_of_Western_Media

Many studies have indicated that there is a left-wing bias in the media. Indeed, lists of the most watched TV news channels and most read newspapers suggest that there are simply more left-wing outlets than right wing ones, so it is more than bias, it is hegemony. A simple explanation is that journalism is a left-wing activity, by and large. Left wing people are trying to change society. Right wing people are trying to make money, not scribbling.

The authors took great care to find objective ways to categorize political parties on the left to right dimension, only to find that these detailed methods correlated at .85 with the Wiki descriptions. However, the independent raters were far less likely to rate political parties as being “far Right” than was the case for Wikipedia descriptions.

They studied 17 countries, mostly European ones. They researched journalist’s actual voting behaviour, or voting intention

It can be seen that, apart from in Slovenia, journalists are to the left of the countries in which they work. This is a massive effect. It holds true even when countries lean to the left, as some European countries do.

All their data can be found in a publicly available data repository. https://osf.io/6uvnu/

The main finding is simple: journalists favour left-wing parties, with a correlation of .5 though this is mostly due to their support of centre left parties, not the far left ones.

 

Compared to the general voting population, journalists prefer parties that are associated with the following ideologies: green parties/environmentalism, feminism, support for the European Union, socialism. Conversely, journalists are less likely than the general voting population to support parties associated with the following ideologies: national conservatism, libertarianism, populism, nationalism and conservatism.

the general population votes about 6.1 times more for national conservative parties as journalists do, whereas journalists vote about 3.0 times more for green parties.

Journalists lean left overall. Another group who write for a living are academics. Which way do they lean?

Langbert (2018) found that the ratio of Democrat to Republican professors was 17.4:1 in History, 43.8:1 in Sociology and 133:1 in Anthropology.

This may lead to a self-confirming amplification effect: journalists are more likely to quote left-leaning academics, who will thus have a higher profile, and will get cited and funded more often, and have more influence on other academics, and thus lead their fields in particular directions. If the left dominate in both media and academia, then the best-known research will be left-inspired.

Is the bias media and academia a bad thing? Yes, and it would have been as bad if a bias to the right had been revealed. The ideal is that both journalists and academics should be even-handed, and give a balanced evaluation of the available evidence. Devoutly to be wished, but rarely achieved. Perhaps people love a fight, and love taking sides.

I doubt that any steps can be taken to ensure balance in journalists. Many people on the right will feel that they have better things to do than go about convincing people. If that is the case, the best that can be hoped for is that journalists nail their colours to the mast so that readers can be warned where their deepest preferences lie. Readers have to pick their way through different news sources, trying to put together the least implausible account. Let a thousand flowers bloom, as Mao said before cutting off their heads.

As for academia, academics have made a profound life choice: they are not direct producers of wealth, but provide a service at a cost. It is natural that, having chosen that life, they are in favour of more funding for research, and willing to countenance more taxation to fund that research. If their research is based on solid methods their personal preferences need not be fatal to truth seeking. But I am left with a feeling that if a few more right-leaning persons might be willing to enter academia, they would provide a small dissenting voice which might illuminate some blind spots.

Currently, journalists in 17 countries lean left, and that distorts the basis on which those democracies work.

 
• Category: Science • Tags: American Media, Political Correctness 
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  1. dearieme says:

    My bias is exactly congruent with yours, doc.

    I must admit I did once know a journalist who proved amenable to reason; she changed her mind on a topic when I gave her a compelling argument. So she clearly wasn’t entirely left wing.

    Another journalist I knew had an expression I loved. He was a political journalist; whenever I mentioned a politician of whom he disapproved (anyone to the right of the middle of the Labour Party) he would announce “I will destroy him”. To get the full effect, repeat that in a bass Glaswegian growl.

  2. A123 says: • Website

    Given the atrocious bias of the U.S. Fake Stream Media [FSM] why is the score only -0.40 for the U.S. versus much larger European differences ?

    Some possibilities:

    -1- Technical — As a functioning 2-party democracy, the “far” weights are incidentally excluded. While U.S. reporters would likely personally align with the Green party, they very rarely come out and say that.

    -2- Terminology — What do “Left” and “Right” mean? In the U.S., “Right” MAGA stands up for workers. “Left” SJW/DNC stands for Wall Street Banks, BigPharma, and other MegaCorporations. In terms of U.S. politics, the traditional left-right spectrum no longer works.

    -3- Leakage — Smaller European media markets are responding to reporters that are several steps removed from thier national norms. A great deal of highly offensive German state run DW reporting reaches German speaking Austria (-1.10).

    There are likely additional factors.

    Is the bias media and academia a bad thing? Yes, and it would have been as bad if a bias to the right had been revealed. The ideal is that both journalists and academics should be even-handed, and give a balanced evaluation of the available evidence

    I disagree that pure 50/50 even handedness is desirable.

    Damage caused by the FSM and a extreme SJW Academia must be fixed. In the short-term, the U.S. will need a period where Populism and Patriotism are mandatory for reporters and teachers. This will help pull the U.S. population away destructive Globalist ideologies.

    Long-term, attempts to allow for perfect even handedness are inherently unstable. The concept lacks the necessary resiliency to avoid slipping into another SJW failure mode. Remember media is global, thus foreign governments and agents will intentionally attempt to insert anti-Populist ideas into domestic press & academia.

    In order to keep nations cohesive as nations, a significant amount of Populist bias will need to permanently remain in media and academia to support the cultural core identity. This builds in the necessary resistance to outside corrupting forces.

    PEACE 😇

  3. But I am left with a feeling that if a few more right-leaning persons might be willing to enter academia

    Speaking from the US perspective, this is just not an option outside of either very special ostentatiously “conservative” colleges, I don’t think any are universities, and which are still almost uniformly still moving left, or maybe some of the low prestige two or four year colleges we have at the bottom tier of our system, in Red state of course. This is one result of our Left’s “march through the institutions.”

    One other problem is that as our higher education administrative staff has ballooned and taken over much or all of the power of running their institutions from the faculty, a lot of tenured academic positions have being turned into “gig economy” style “associate professor” positions where people are hired no more than a class or year at a time for low salaries that don’t provide resources including time for independent scholarship. Which if right of Mao or hit one of the every changing tripwires of the woke would end their careers, such as they are. Also an IQ shredder, they’re not getting paid enough to have families absent a second income from a wife.

    Some fraction of us on the dissident Right think the only solution to this general problem is to literally tear down these hostile institutions, as in bulldoze, leave no two bricks or stones standing on top of each other, aside from libraries and some STEM research facilities. US academia in general is leading is into another Communist genocide, is a or the primary source of our “woke,” and in any case is overproducing “elites” which is always a recipe for unrest when most of them can’t find positions in society anywhere close to their ambitions, anywhere close what they were told they’d be able to do after graduating, very often with crushing debt.

    For an archetypal case until she was picked for high office by a non-establishment political faction, see our AOC as in Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Father was an architect, had an upper middle class upbringing in a wealthy suburb of NYC, “came in second in the microbiology category of” our most prestigious high school science fair, attended a second tier elite university, interned for Ted Kennedy which was no small thing, then after graduation infamously worked as bartender and waitress.

    Although that could be something of a special case as her father died in her second year in college and probate was according to her predatory, credible because there are a number of US states where that’s common, one smaller one the East coast where it’s a universal racket starting with the judges. But low class or inconsequential jobs are a very common fate for a bunch if not the majority of our over-educated, envious outer circle types.

    • Thanks: Johann Ricke
    • Replies: @dearieme
  4. dearieme says:
    @That Would Be Telling

    I applaud whoever it was who started referring to her as Alexandria Occasional-Cortex.

  5. jb says:

    One useful way to put it is that when leftist journalists support their claims by quoting leftist academics, they are effectively quoting themselves. It’s the same of course when leftist academics quote other leftist academics. They all kneel before the same alter and read from the same prayer book. They are quoting themselves.

  6. What exactly does “left” mean? Ginning up wars? Valorizing the CIA? Valorizing billionaires and vapid celebrities?

    Learn The Clarification: The left is just as bad as the right and the worst of the left are worse than the worst of the right and that’s really bad.

  7. res says:

    Those results seem plausible, but the raters are a very small sample.

    23 out of 25 raters were Danish (the remaining two were Dutch and Portugese, respectively); 60% were male; and they were aged between 17 and 30.

    Austria and France are interesting outliers for bias. Any thoughts on that?

    The US journalist figure seems high to me. Do any Europeans have thoughts on the differences between countries there?

    P.S. The link to the data has extra characters which break it. Here is a working version.
    https://osf.io/6uvnu/

    • Replies: @A123
    , @James Thompson
    , @A123
  8. songbird says:

    Political and ethnic labels should be mandatory, like ingredient labels on most processed foods.

  9. “Many people on the right will feel that they have better things to do than go about convincing people.”

    If you were a young journalist, and you were on the right, and you wanted to convince people (in a rightward direction), your career would be pretty short.

    All the well known ‘rightie’ journalists are getting on in years, there are no youthful firebrands.

    I imagine this kind of “Community Cohesion Partnership” is training journalists well.

    “The Berwick Crime and Disorder Reduction Partnership (CDRP) is working with the local press/media to vet stories involving migrant workers from eastern Europe and Portugal employed in the food processing and agricultural sectors to prevent stigmatisation.”

    https://web.archive.org/web/20121005011542/http://www.communities.gov.uk/documents/communities/pdf/787910.pdf

    Plenty of journalists did well career-wise chasing down the Lawrence murderers, but who’s going to invest in nailing the unconvicted killers of Gavin Hopley or Ben Hitchcock?

    https://m.facebook.com/RecusantNine/photos/a.108905037341994/253501842882312/?type=3&source=54

  10. A123 says: • Website
    @res

    Austria and France are interesting outliers for bias. Any thoughts on that?

    I conjectured above the possibility for Austria

    https://www.unz.com/jthompson/media-bias/#comment-4942981

    — Though I will restate and clarify —

    -3- Leakage — Smaller European media markets may be responding to reporters that are several steps removed from their national norms. A great deal of highly offensive [to Austrians] German state run DW reporting reaches German speaking Austria (-1.10).

    The US journalist figure seems high to me.

    That was my thought too. I cannot believe that U.S. and Canadian reporters have a Populist bias in U.S.

    It may be an artifact based on the definitions of “Left” and “Right” being very different in North America versus the rest of the globe (see #2 above).

    PEACE 😇

  11. @res

    Thanks for new link.
    Will ask authors to comment.

  12. A123 says: • Website
    @res

    Res,

    While I do not recall you posting up in AKarlin recently, I believe you did so in the past.

    He is closing out here, so if you have any final words for him, now is the time.

    https://www.unz.com/akarlin/last-reaction/

    PEACE 😇

    • Thanks: res
  13. The MSM in the Anglo West, that with which I am acquainted, are pro-capitalist, pro-Empire, pro-elite etc, as you would expect. Their jobs in the private-owned MSM, owned by those very imperialist, capitalist, oligarchs depend on it. The way that the likes of Murdoch do NOT tolerate any deviation from his editorial line, is infamous.
    To call them ‘left liberal’ is silly. Economically, in class terms and from the point of view of the Atlanticist Empire, they are as ‘Right’ as their supposed political opponents. They simply believe in social liberalism, because they wish to indulge their personal preferences free of ‘conservative’ repression or abuse. I doubt that many feel any sympathy for any oppressed minority, save where that oppression impinges on their own desires.
    This propaganda system for the rich owners of society is 100% uniform in opinion, with totalitarian Groupthink that has reached levels of repression under the CoViD tyranny that beggar belief. It is, I believe, a ‘psychic epidemic’ such as Jung described, where a ruling elite, as the social/economic/cultural edifice they constructed to favour them over all others, crumbles, go stark raving mad. More than a few, when on TV mouthing their lies, of ‘safe and effective vaccines’ of ivermectin being useless poison, of any who dare ask ANY question being ‘anti-vaxxers’ and ‘domestic terrorists’, display all the facial contortions, particularly of the eyes, and unhinged verbiage of the clinically insane in the throes of paranoid terror. These are psychotic monsters capable of any atrocity.

  14. LondonBob says:

    I had a job a few years ago that entailed working alongside some journalists, the most left wing, blinkered people I have ever met! There is a history of firebrand right wing journalism in Britain but this has all died within the past twenty years, or is this a false impression of mine?

    As for academia I am terrified my academic uncle is going to invite me up to dinner at his college in Cambridge, my brother has gone already and said they were a bunch of weirdos, disproportionately homosexual or lesbian.

    I think the issue remains that right wing people are more open minded, they will hire across the political spectrum, the left isn’t, hence why such institutions become increasingly left wing. Right wing people end up working in jobs where politics isn’t relevant.

    • Agree: ruralguy
  15. anonymous[197] • Disclaimer says:

    “As for academia, academics have made a profound life choice: they are not direct producers of wealth, but provide a service at a cost. It is natural that, having chosen that life, they are in favour of more funding for research, and willing to countenance more taxation to fund that research.”

    This is the second least insightful analysis in the last few weeks of human history.

    More serious reasons for the prevalence of liberal attitudes among academics have been intelligently discussed by many before. Incidentally, most academics in the humanities fields would rather just teach. They are pressured, often relentlessly, into doing research by universities and their tenure procedures. You can see this by looking at their publications lists. Many produce fewer publications after tenure, some even not publishing at all.

    The least insightful analysis in the last few weeks was also from the same author. He enlightened the world by saying that the reason the Afghan National Army did not defeat the Taliban is that they were provided with weapons too sophisticated for their IQ’s.

  16. Jmaie says:

    Being left (or right) wing does not preclude quality journalism. Used to be, journalists operated under a set of conventions that was designed to produce unbiased reporting. It was an ethical requirement. But no longer…

    As example, a reporter would never write, “Such and such is true.” He would instead quote an authority figure on the matter. Idea being that personal opinion should never enter the arena, however that has changed. Over the last four years, how many times did we hear, “President Trump said, without evidence…”

    NPR is generally regarded as left wing but you rarely hear anything truly biased said. Rather it is the subjects they chose to cover. This was not a problem when there was variety of news sources but that’s no longer the case. Consolidation of the industry has hurt, but IMHO there is a bigger problem. The internet has destroyed the profitability of independent journalists, most of the reporting comes from a small handful of sources (AP, as example) and those are repeated ad nauseum. Those few truly alternative new sources are seen by only a tiny fraction of the public, leading the uncurious to think there a unanimity of opinion that doesn’t actually exist.

  17. This is why we need Free Speech and Alt Media. True, free speech + alt media lead to a lot of crazy opinions and conspiracy theories and other crackpottery, but they still offer more truth than so-called mainstream media that are totally owned and controlled by Jewish Supremacists who hire and fire people on the basis of who’s-with-the-program.

    The good thing about alt media is people in it have no power to shut others down. They can shout but can’t shut down. In contrast, the big media, in cahoots with deep state, can shut people down. Ask Alex Jones.

    And Covid BS proved that the powers-that-be are into Decree Speech.

  18. Would be interesting to see these results cross checked with public opinion polls regarding how much they trust their media sources. I know US trust in media has been in a sharp decline for at least a decade. Personally if a MSM news anchor told me that grass was green I’d go outside with a color wheel just to be sure. The ease at which media sources can distort the truth via carefully edited videos, cropped or staged photos, and selective reporting has eroded my naïve former beliefs that journalists care about the truth. I have no doubt that there are some real journalists out there, but their works are either directly censored, “Fact Checked” into the ever growing sphere of fake news for offering facts or opinions that go counter to the current narrative, or simply obfuscated by a preponderance of Buzzfeed tier writing.

  19. onebornfree says: • Website

    “As for academia, academics have made a profound life choice: they are not direct producers of wealth, but provide a service at a cost. It is natural that, having chosen that life, they are in favour of more funding for research, and willing to countenance more taxation to fund that research. ”

    “It is easy to be conspicuously ‘compassionate’ if others are being forced to pay the cost.”
    Murray Rothbard

    “States have always needed intellectuals to con the public into believing that its rule is wise, good, and inevitable.” Murray Rothbard

    Regards, onebornfree

  20. Mike Tre says:

    “Before getting into that topic, start with another question: why would anyone be a journalist?

    Too ugly to be a prostitute and not smart enough to do anything else.

  21. dearieme says:

    Increasingly I don’t know what to believe. Is this real or doctored?

    • Replies: @A123
  22. A123 says: • Website
    @dearieme

    It is almost certainly real. Not-The-President Biden was in obvious mental decline before the election. His 9/11 outing was also incomprehensible: (1)

    This is funny. Sky News host Rita Panahi says she will “personally write a cheque” for anyone who can decipher what Joe Biden is trying to convey in his statements from Shankesville Pennsylvania on September 11th.

    He seems to get worse every day. Brace yourself for Kamala’s elevation. Sooner rather than later, Biden is going to #EpicFail in manner that his handlers and puppeteers cannot fix.

    PEACE 😇
    __________

    (1) https://theconservativetreehouse.com/blog/2021/09/13/sky-news-journalist-offers-to-write-a-check-to-anyone-who-can-decipher-what-the-heck-joe-biden-is-saying/

     

  23. Kali Ma says:

    Something you didn’t mention but is something that I have researched is that a large percentage of journalists come from upper middle class to lower level upper class families, and usually with political connections at the local or national level, or connections to the university system at a high level (lots of journalists have professors as parents). Many have connections to other types of politically connected professions such as parents from high level medical research, psychiatry, etc.

    What we see in journalism today is a result of a class system where the failsons and faildaughters of successful people get entry into journalism because of nepotism, i.e., because of their parents profession or family connections they know people who get their kids easy entree into journalism at places that pay a respectable salary. Essentially a large percentage of journalists are the progeny of the new liberal gentry, the class of people beneath the very rich, their parents or relatives are often professors, doctors, researchers for government funded organizations and all sorts of NGOs, etc. And if their parents are not that successful they usually have a relative who is. If you look into the backgrounds of journalists who have jobs at popular liberal publications or on TV it is rare to find someone who doesn’t comport to that background. Someone like Tucker Carlson is the norm rather than the aberration, except they are usually liberals.

    • Agree: LondonBob
  24. Shetland says:

    Way way off topic:

    I was recently reading a John Cheever biography by the late John Updike. Updike mentions that it shocked him to learn that Cheever, someone he considered a formidable contemporary, had an IQ in the high average range. Cheever was apparently tested twice in adulthood. I’ve read that author Richard Yates scored in a similar range. Anyone know how this could be? The writing of both Cheever and Yates is superb

    I sometimes wonder about my own cognitive profile. I tested a lowly full-score of 116 on the WAIS (a blithering idiot by the standards of most readers on a site like this). And yet I had an odd profile (99th percentile in vocabulary and 25th percentile on visual puzzles subtest). Nothing about IQ makes sense to me anymore.

    • Replies: @very old statistician
  25. @Kali Ma

    Chomsky and Herman nailed it, from observations made by others decades before, in Manufacturing Consent, thirty odd years ago. It’s just commonsense, too. The Western MSM is a propaganda system for the economic power and political control of the capitalist owners of society. There is NO ‘Leftwing’ MSM, in any meaningful sense, anywhere in the West. What people here call ‘Left’ is just liberal capitalism, rather than ‘conservative’ capitalism. He who pays the pipsqueaks calls the tune.

  26. Totally off-topic but I cannot remember the name of the presumed psychologist who used to write IQ articles under a pseudonym. They often featured a discussion between ‘Prodigy’ and someone else.

    Can anyone help me? Has the site been taken down?

    • Replies: @Graham
  27. @Shetland

    hi, a little late here.

    the thing to remember about guys like Updike – who was a standard deviation less talented than Nabokov, who was a standard deviation less talented than Pushkin, who was a standard deviation less talented than Dante, who was a standard deviation less talented than Shakespeare (although Dante, in my opinion, understood the world, as a human, as well as Shakespeare) – the thing to remember is they were encouraged to be writers by people who had power to create a writer’s reputation, and who knew that the country needed very good writers. There will be no Cheevers in America’s future, because the people who wanted a guy like Cheever to succeed have long passed from the scene. As such, people like Cheever, and Updike, never were all that demonstrative of a given level of talent, the way mathematicians who attack and solve specific problems are (for example, Riemann and his beautiful function and its meanings, or Huygens, who understood the nature of light (wave/particle) better than the supposedly supreme genius of physics, Newton)…… someone like Updike, or Cheever, both of them about four or five standard deviations short of being supremely talented, basically served a social function, to wit, to write the type of prose that the society expected the better writers to write – a little pathos here, a little nostalgia there, a little bit about empathy and the lack of empathy as a pasticheur’s plot point – nothing close to the level of Shakespeare or Dante or even (in that company) poor little Pushkin.

    Anyway, the older I get, the less respect I have for any literary artist below the very very top level – with almost no exceptions, every prose writer you hear about as great is (a) on the positive side, probably very charismatic and good with words and someone who would have been very wonderful to meet and talk to in real life but (b) almost certainly not someone with a lot of original things to say, but instead someone who reflects, and riffs on, the interesting things in the society in which the writer has prospered.

    For example, I used to think Nabokov was not only a really good stylist, but also intelligent. Then I read his sophomoric pastiche of Finnegans Wake, and I realized he really did not understand Joyce at all, and did not even understand that he did not understand what Joyce was doing – and, given that he and Joyce lived at the same time and there were no real external obstructions to his ability to understand Joyce, Nabokov’s lack of understanding basically showed that he was not all that bright, and not all that good at understanding words. Compared to real geniuses, that is.

    • Replies: @Shetland
    , @James Thompson
  28. Shetland says:
    @very old statistician

    Thank you. It is insightful comments like these that keep me coming back to Thompson’s posts. I’d love to hear some recommendations on where to start with Joyce, even if it just leaves me dabbling at the edges.

    • Replies: @Shetland
  29. Shetland says:
    @Shetland

    Wanted to add that I’d love to hear just about ANY recommendations you might have regarding good literature.

    • Replies: @dearieme
  30. @very old statistician

    A delightful contribution. Thank you.

    Nabokov rose without trace.

    The piece below might amuse you.

    https://www.unz.com/jthompson/types-of-psychologist/

    • Replies: @very old statistician
  31. dearieme says:
    @Shetland

    If you’d like to read non-fiction written in fine style I recommend three works.

    (i) Gibbon: The Decline and Fall … Famously good and the only one of the three that will make you laugh a lot. I recommend the abridgement published by Pelican (which is what I’ve read.)

    (ii) Darwin: The Origin of Species. See if you agree with me that it is a masterly work of advocacy using a magnificent compilation of data. (It’s true that neither Darwin nor Wallace were the first people to think of evolution but after this book the case was irrefutable.) Again I read the Pelican edition.

    (iii) Adam Smith’s The Wealth of Nations. Grand stuff and has the added advantage of demolishing many stupid stereotypes about Smith’s views. Once more I read the Pelican edition.

    What I haven’t read but perhaps ought to is Smith’s The Theory of Moral Sentiments. Here’s the beginning of a website review:

    The Theory Of Moral Sentiments was a real scientific breakthrough. It shows that our moral ideas and actions are a product of our very nature as social creatures. It argues that this social psychology is a better guide to moral action than is reason. It identifies the basic rules of prudence and justice that are needed for society to survive, and explains the additional, beneficent, actions that enable it to flourish.

  32. Shetland says:
    @dearieme

    Thank you so much for this. I will start with Gibbon and then onto your other recommendations

  33. @James Thompson

    JT – thanks for that “types of psychologist post” —– i probably read that when it came out in 2014 (I started reading deep-insight internet posts in 2011, soon after being dumped by my circa 2010 fiancee, before that I had no time for the internet), it is nice to be reminded ….

    since i am in the mood to talk about really good books, to describe your top categorization of psychologists a little differently, , maybe i would just say, well Shakespeare might seem like the greatest of psychologists, but then you read Moliere (whose characters, male and female, were even better than Shakespeare’s at discussing that whole very important mating thing) or Dostoevsky might seem, in his intense ‘i have looked at death in the eyes way’, to be the greatest of psychologists, and then you read Bernanos (whose saintly characters make the saintly characters of Dostoevsky look a little stiff, or if not stiff, at least stiffly portrayed) and you are all like, hmmm …

    it was fun to get a response from Shetland on my comment on why Nabokov did not understand Joyce … i had the advantage over that very intelligent man of having access to all sorts of insights from people – typically university professors, writing introductions to books on Finnegans wake (I don’t read from beginning to end the books on Finnegans Wake because the introductions, usually freely available on Amazon, are so full of insight), but also Amazon reviewers or just people who randomly comment, here and there on the internet, or in books that only sell a couple hundred copies, in ways with deep insight, on that wonderful book – which basically is like Shakespeare, but which, contrary to what Martin Amis said in his famous “Finnegans Wake is a failure because it expects too much from the reader” essay, is the sort of book where the writer says, in a friendly way, well, let’s talk about things we like to talk about, including all sorts of trivia —- “if one of my characters”, Joyce might have said, “is sort of poorly described in one situation, let’s look at that character later on in a slightly different situation …. Here are Shem and Shaun, the older sort of a Hamlet, the younger sort of a Lear, and let’s talk about them through the stages of a night of dreaming, maybe if we all try and understand we will understand better – nothing wrong with Shakespeare having, in a Prussian sort of way, having confined each character to one play, but we don’t have to do that, we can go on and on about people, the way God and his angels, looking at each of us as individuals, might go on and on about us – and by the way, if you like to talk about the Jeapordy category of World Rivers, I am totally into it,if you want to talk about ways to riff on cool passages from top 40 songs of our youth, I will do that too” —- and from the Christian point of view, if you want to follow along with Joyce and watch each of those characters (not just Shem and Shaun, but Izzy and ALP and her husband, and all that rest) interact with riffs from the Gospels (and a few other religious texts too), well let’s do that too.

    -two more recommendations, if you like Proust and his way of looking at memories of good people as a way to think of the best of Western civilization as being respect for people who are kind to each other, and their memories of better days in the past, try reading Peguy (particularly in his long poem Eve), who described Eve, our first mother, as looking forward to the memories of all her children as those memories should have been, and if you like Tolkien, with his passion for loving this world as a world where great and beautiful things can happen, try reading Christina Rossetti’s poems, or the poems of Peguy (again), with a similar, but more accessible (to those of us who work for a living in this world) passion ….

    • Replies: @James Thompson
  34. @dearieme

    Dearieme – great recommendations, I will check out the Pelican editions, although with books like that, I usually go for Folio society editions, if I can get them cheap in a decent used condition ….

  35. @very old statistician

    Seems I have been reading the wrong books. Truth be told, I don’t read novels. Not often, anyway.

    • Replies: @Philip Owen
  36. @Kali Ma

    Also preachers. The pulpits have emptied to the advantage of social work and journalism.

  37. @James Thompson

    Non fiction. The Origins of Virtue by Matt Ridley. The best book on altruism and inter alia basic game theory that I’ve read. Nothing original; he’s a journalist at heart; very lucid though which is not common among journalists writing books. Put a lot of my own thoughts together.

    Never forget that journalists write for money. Their attitudes reflect the type of news entertainment that media consumers want. The Daily Express appeals to some not others. This breaks down in non market environments, to wit the BBC. However, note that ITV and Sky are close to the BBC in style and substance. Channel 4 which isn’t (and is BBC run) has low viewing figures. GB News …?

    • Replies: @James Thompson
  38. I was not trying to say novels are the uber-expression of what we understand —- Maybe you have actually been reading the right books, novels aren’t for everybody. Conversation with good people who like to talk is the real thing, as long as civilization lasts, and at any given moment the most insightful things might simply be from people we talk to, instead of from books, even the best of books ……
    What I am gonna say next is something everybody knows, but i am gonna say it anyway. Books are just books. Tolstoy, for example, would have loved to have heard so so many conversations among people who, back in the day, once thought they were really lucky to have bought a Tolstoy novel and have had time to have read it ….and not a single one of those people ever had a moment’s ambition to write a novel, or to say something original about whatever novel they had, at some point in their life, read from cover to cover —- NOT A MOMENT’S AMBITION!!! …..
    The best thing I ever read about how good literature can be was from a very liberal guy, who is generally an idiot, named Ron Rosenbaum. His theory on Shakespeare is that there was this one summer in his (Shakespeare’s, not Rosenbaum’s) life, when everything went right, and he wrote a play – I think Ron called it the black book play, sort of a riff on CIA tropes about the black books they allegedly hold on any one with power in this world —- anyway, Rosenbaum’s theory was Shakespeare basically wrote this one perfect play, and in the following years he would write, one after another, plays that were derivative of that play, hoping to live long enough to finally, on some wonderful April evening in London, sit in the gallery while the actual perfect play was performed —- something that obviously never happened, Shakespeare being, like all his poet pals, mortal.
    Anyway, you will never catch me criticizing people for not having read this or that novel, or not having watched enough Shakespeare plays.

  39. I cannot think of any journalists in Austfailia, that I am aware of, who are in favour of socialism. If they are, they hide it very well, in order to continue to be employed. These creatures aren’t ‘Left’-they’re ‘liberal’, ie self-interested. That’s NOT ‘socialism’. The ‘liberals’ are the leading peddlers of insanely filthy lies about ‘genocide’ in Xinjiang, or Putin’s ‘Novichok’ escapades. ‘Liberals’ here lie through their pearly whites that the drunken, racist, drug addict Navalny, is the Leader of the Opposition in Russia, when his support is c.4% on a good day.

  40. I’m re-reading The Possessed’ by Dostoevsky, and the resemblance of the wannabe revolutionaries to the Woke fanatics, and the anthropogenic climate destabilisation deniers, is amazing. Packs of Gadarene swine, ostensibly opposed in ideology, but joined at the brain in idiocy and credulousness. I’ve picked Obama as the Stavrogin of the Wokesters, and Trump is a lay-down misere for the other tendency, but Peter Verkhovensky is harder-so much choice! But even Dostoevsky never imagined a creature as bizarre as Rachel Madcow.

  41. @Philip Owen

    Thanks for your suggestion. Read Matt Ridley quite a bit. Talked him into following me, as a quid pro quo for me following him, which I had done for some time.

  42. @James Thompson

    Sorry for mentioning it. Of course you are familiar with the work. I suppoe it was in the fron t of my mind because Rory Sutherland the advertising guru seems to have read it recently. He is citing ideas from Origins of Virtue in his recent articles and books. Sutherland claims in a tangential way to have invented the “nudge” for Cummings & co from his other readings in psychology. He doesn’t just do ads. He does behavioural solutions for what might be seen as waiting list problems and so forth.

  43. Hadn’t read his Origins of Virtue! Looking forward to “Viral”.

  44. James Thompson is a new Author for me, so it seemed prudent to go slowly with him. I started by checking his first link – The Left-liberal Skew of Western Media. The lead author was Emil O. W. Kirkegaard.

    Emil Ole William Kirkegaard (online aliases: Deleet,[1] Deleetdk,[2] EmilOWK) is a Danish far-right eugenicist and activist for legalising child pornography. He has a wide range of crank views and is a global-warming denier, anti-feminist, ableist, anti-vegan, homophobe, Islamophobe, transphobe and has promoted white supremacy.[3][4][5][6][7][8] He is most notorious and obnoxious online for his ableism and calling transgender people, liberals, feminists and pretty much anyone with left-wing political views who merely disagrees with him as “mentally ill”.

    Jonatan Pallesen – I could find virtually nothing about this person.

    Noah Carl:

    Academic scrutiny of Noah Carl’s [OpenPsych] papers clearly reveals selective use of data and unsound statistical methods which have been used to legitimise racist stereotypes about groups.
    —Clement Mouhot, Professor of Mathematics, Cambridge University[1]

    Cambridge fired Noah Carl.

    I’m afraid that Author Thompson’s evidence for his “media bias” thesis has some serious problems.

    • Replies: @Philip Owen
    , @Dieter Kief
  45. I’m afraid that your credulity precludes any critical understanding. Try to read and think for yourself.

  46. @Zachary Smith

    The hate speech used about Kirkegard should give you a clue as to the validity of the criticism. He may hold concordant underlying views but the highly emotional critique is not serious. It suggests exagerration at least.

  47. @Zachary Smith

    The idea is to make people suspicious/doubtful/hesitant so that they don’t make up their own mind.
    In the real world of open and honest discourse James Thompson is cultivating, facts don’t bite.

  48. dearieme says:

    Mr iSteve raises a good point: media bias may be recognised by what the bustards won’t cover.

    https://www.unz.com/isteve/nellie-bowles-the-nyts-kenosha-kover-up/

  49. Yes, choice of subject area, and timing, are powerful forces.

  50. @James Thompson

    Matt Ridley? In my opinion he is malignant denialist imbecile, hereditary millionaire and beneficiary of fossil fuel gelt, who crashed Northern Rock in the first UK bank run in decades. In my opinion one benefit of the rapid ecological collapse is that creatures like Ridley will face justice for crimes of ecocide.

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