Opinion: Reading too Much News is Sucking the Life Out of Our Brains.

Matthew C. Woodruff

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In his essay, The Art of Thinking Clearly: Better Thinking, Better Decisions, philosopher, author entrepreneur and founder of World.Minds, Dr. Rolf Dobelli says reading news is bad for us, in a big way.

Dr. Dobelli tells us what we already know, the news misleads us. Maybe not on purpose, but news stories tend to focus on the wrong issues. We are not rational enough to be exposed to the press. Issues of the minute are stressed while the long-term endemic causes are ignored. And really, most news is irrelevant to our daily lives.

In this season of tweets and social media posts, news story bubbles have no explanatory power. They skim along the surface of the world without delving into any substance. He says the important stories are non-stories: slow, powerful movements that develop below journalists' radar but have a transforming effect.

News stories are actually toxic to our brains, like little word zombies. Panicky stories spur the release of cascades of glucocorticoid (cortisol). This deregulates the immune system and inhibits the release of growth hormones. According to Dr. Dobelli, these high glucocorticoid levels cause impaired digestion, lack of growth (cell, hair, bone), nervousness and susceptibility to infections.

News works like a drug on our brains and inhibits thinking. Like viruses that steal attention for their own purposes, news makes us shallow thinkers. Absorbing news weakens comprehension. In a 2001 study two scholars in Canada showed that comprehension declines as the number of hyperlinks in a document increase. The more news we consume, the more we exercise the neural circuits devoted to skimming and multitasking while ignoring those used for reading deeply and thinking with profound focus.

I’m paraphrasing here, but Dr. Dobelli’s essay says consuming news sucks the life out of our brains like ravenous zombies.

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Matthew is a free-lance journalist, and an internationally award-winning author best known for Dark Humor/Lite Horror/Supernatural short stories, as well as an ordained minister who served as a domestic missionary. He is a lover of the unusual, travel, cats and the spark that makes people tick. Matthew is based in Florida, USA.

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