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Why Does Much of the Population Focus On Virtually Irrelevant News?

Since March 8 much of the news seems to have been focused on the disappearance of Malaysian Airlines Flight 370.  Yes, it is important in terms of aviation safety and to the families and friends of the people on board to find out what happened.  It seems as though people have become obsessed with the situation, however.  I would venture to say that more people are focused on this crash than the Ukrainian crisis.  The reality is that whatever happened to the Malaysian flight will not impact ordinary citizens.  A commercial jetliner is one of the safest places you can be.
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The crisis in Ukraine, however, could impact us all.  Sanctions against Russia could hurt masses of people financially, including Americans.  It could hurt American businesses who sell goods to Russia.  We also have to worry about the balance of power in present and future conflicts.  That does not mean sanctions are not necessary.  I am also not writing this blog to take a position on matters such as Iran and Syria.  The fact is that whatever you think about these matters it can affect the world.

Of course the attention on Malaysian Airlines Flight 370 is not the only irrelevant matter that our media presents.  I saw a preview for Fox 25 News at 10, recently.  (I am not taking about a program on the Fox News channel.)  Apart from sports and weather, they previewed a story about a lottery winning pedophile.  They seemed to think it was shocking that a lottery winner would have problems with pedophilia.  The weather bears a little bit of importance in planning your week.  Sports and arrested sex offenders really do not.  It is unlikely this guy is going to go after your kids.  Yet, much of the world is paranoid about this stuff.

Why do people focus on irrelevant news?  The answer is fairly simple.  Many of us are too consumed with work and other matters to follow deep intellectual news.  So we follow things that can create a gut reaction of fear.  Tragedies may also grab people’s attention.  It too causes a gut reaction.  That is one reason why events such as the Challenger explosion or the death of Princess Diana emotionally impacted so many people .

What can we do to make people more interested in more newsworthy events?  This answer is not simple!  We need to develop ideas.  Some people would argue that various powers that be would prefer to keep much of the world uninterested in serious news.  We can discuss that matter too.

Picture from Keith Ramsey licensed under Creative Commons


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