Gell-Mann Mnestic

An archive of mistakes made by people who should know better, professionally speaking.

Gell-Mann Amnesia is, to put it as concisely as possible, a failure to generalize observed incompetence into arenas in which you would be less qualified to judge competence. Since you don’t have the specific expertise, you assume an “authority” is correct, even when you’ve_ just seconds ago_ seen very vivid evidence to the contrary. 

Well, there are ways to avoid forgetting things (luckily they aren’t all fictional), and it turns out both of us are operating one of them right now – computers! Honestly, shamelessly bad “reporting” has been personally annoying for some time, and I suspect in the last several years it has gotten so bad as to actively pollute public discourse. I cannot recall a news article on a subject I am familiar with that was even remotely accurate. Blogs have been my only refuge, and now that I’ve been beguiled into creating one, I wish to extend that sweet relief from nonsense to you. 

The proximate cause of this widget was the poorly done verification of Craig Wright’s claim to be the inventor of Bitcoin. Just so we are very clear, the BBC is still reporting the hokum as “technical proof to back up his claim” despite very clear descriptions from experts about how full of baloney the entire process has been. 

Not that this particular story matters. This kind of absurdity happens constantly, the only question is whether the absurdity is so extreme and widespread it compels an expert to explain every single mistake. Please, check out the bottom of this link again – both the Craig Wright fiasco and the cow-accent nonsense come from the BBC, which appears to publish such large volumes of trash that the 19 links to false stories are only a small selection of the science related errors (and believe me, there are non-science related errors) over the span of only a couple years. I avoid linking directly to the parrot telepathy and alchemical transmutation stories only because I am terrified they may, for some reason, show up in Google for those phrases. 

It might be appropriate to talk about retractions here, but the BBC, for instance, doesn’t seem to take errors seriously, and will fail to issue a retraction when they make absurd claims. 

So we are left to our own devices. But these devices can be quite good! And we can work together. 

The Gell-Mann Mnestic: A Way To Avoid Forgetting The Wrong Wrongness of News Sites.