What Should You Notice?

I have noticed the news today, such as it is, invites us to notice what is happening and offers direction on what we should do about it. You end up with received wisdom, but it is someone else’s wisdom.

Is that good enough for you?

I hope not. Success involves a more complete study of events. It follows the normal pattern of knowledge  management.

Data becomes information once it has been validated. Information becomes knowledge once it has been fitted into a web of other information. Knowledge becomes Wisdom when it has had meaning attributed and we know to integrate it into our life plan.

Converting the news

The question you must answer has several parts:

  1. Is it true?
  2. Is it complete?
  3. Can we identify consequences?
  4. Can we identify consequences on us as individuals?
  5. The last two are about assigning meaning

Truth is of little value without understanding consequences. I might say that a collapse in real estate prices in China has no consequence for me, but at the same time I might want to consider that my investments are somehow connected to this malaise. That leads to stress.

Undifferentiable news is a problem.

What should I do?

You can worry about everything if you want, but it doesn’t help. You can never know enough to be sure.

Instead, consider what part of the news directly affects you. For example, if I am a pipeline contractor and the administration cancels the Keystone Pipeline, I must assess how it affects my business. If I am an Almond farmer in Fresno, it might not matter much.

By assigning meaning to the news, I can understand and  decide how to act. Being able to convert the news into actionable material is the key.


News that is not actionable in your personal world is interesting, maybe amusing, often surprising , but it is not yours. It is entertainment. If it is entertainment, do you care if it is true or complete. Maybe not. But what if others take it seriously? Is Archie Bunker the face of systemic racism, or merely entertaining and making fun of foolish ideas. Be careful over-allocating meaning to entertainment.

If a situation is complicated, nevermind complex, there is no sound bite or single thought that adequately communicates it. No single graph describes climate change. Climate is well beyond complex. It is a standard example of reality used in discussing chaos theory. People who act or change behaviour based on simplistic assessments lose. Sometimes catastrophically. Be more circumspect.

The first defence is to know what is complex and what is not. The score in a baseball game is not complex and it likely has little meaning or consequence in your individual life. Other things seem not meaningful ,but maybe taken together with others of the same type would lead to something you might want to know about and even act upon. If police ticket a 7-year-old’s lemonade stand and refuse to sanction shoplifters, it might be smart to assess the value system of the organizations involved.

Eventually society’s value system will affect you. If you don’t like its trajectory, you must make a stand.

What it comes down to

You must become discerning. “exercising good judgement” It will not be easy and it will occupy time and mind space. Avoid spreading yourself too thin. Stick to what matters to you and your family. Build a network with other skills and interests. A farmer can help you understand patience and adversity. An engineer can help you organize facts. A minister provides a different insight.

Pay attention to young people. They are insightful in their way.

Pay attention to the different. Understanding why it is different and how it is changing.

The takeaway

  1. Spend your time and energy on things that matter.
  2. Demand evidence and reasoning
  3. Understand evidence. Especially circumstantial evidence. In law, circumstantial evidence must clearly connect to the point AND it cannot reasonably connect to any other point. Example. Forests are burning. Is that evidence climate change? Maybe but it cannot be linked exclusively to that. How does weak forest management fit?
  4. Mistrust expert opinion unless presented by the expert and that expert will answer questions to clarify their interpretation. If a scientist explains their understanding of the science to a magazine writer, and the writer’s interpretation story is picked up by an aide in a political office who explains as they understand it to a politician who explains it to you, what do you have?  Certainly not expert opinion.. Pay no attention.
  5. Find some good news, just for balance.
  6. Play with your children and grandchildren. You will learn enthusiasm and imagination and joy.
  7. Life should not be as serious as we usually think.

I help people have more retirement income and larger, more liquid estates.

Call in Canada 705-927-4770, or email don@moneyfyi.com 


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: