The Information Diet | Clay A Johnson

Summary of: The Information Diet: A Case for Conscious Comsumption
By: Clay A Johnson


In a world where we’re constantly bombarded with information, it’s easy to become overwhelmed and lost. The Information Diet by Clay A. Johnson aims to teach readers how to be more conscious consumers of information, drawing parallels with our food diet. The summary highlights how, like food, the quality of information varies – some are nutritious and beneficial, while others provide empty calories that weigh us down. The book’s central theme revolves around self-regulation and the importance of choosing to consume information that is balanced and beneficial to our well-being.

Mind Your Information Diet

In today’s world, we spend more time consuming information than ever before, but much of it is akin to junk food. Similarly, the food industry caters to consumer preference for unhealthy options. This book highlights the similarities between information and food consumption and the importance of being mindful of our information diets. With technology providing easy access to unlimited sources of data, it is crucial to focus on consuming healthy information that aids in personal growth, rather than the empty calories that bog down our mental faculties.

The Power and Perils of Information Diet

The book discusses how the invention of personal computers and the Internet has revolutionized the world in the twenty-first century. It emphasizes that just like a healthy food diet has consequences that can impact one’s life positively, a healthy information diet can help reduce stress and promote longevity. However, the book notes that along with these revolutionary changes, there are also fears and misgivings. Critics worry about the Internet’s effect on morality and its threat to the safety of women and children, while others feel that the “information explosion” affects peoples’ intelligence and attention span. The author suggests that personalization poses the greatest web-based danger to individual users. The book emphasizes that as a consumer, one has to take responsibility for seeking balanced information and not just clicking on content that favors one’s interests. Ultimately, the responsibility for healthy information consumption lies with individuals and their ability to control their minds’ software.

Taking Control of Your Information Diet

With the abundance of information available, individuals often feel overwhelmed and exhausted. However, the issue isn’t accessibility but rather individuals’ behavior as responsible consumers. Instead of succumbing to the sedentary lifestyle of constant information consumption, individuals must take responsibility for their choices. Just as one makes a conscious decision to avoid unhealthy habits, one can make educated choices regarding their “information diet.” Learning efficient methods to digest data and determining what is beneficial versus what to ignore is essential for responsible information consumption.

The Formula for Success in Cable News

Roger Ailes, the founder of Fox News, understood the critical need for hiring talented hosts and cultivating a conservative viewpoint that resonated with millions of viewers. He realized that people want to hear reports that affirm their beliefs, and he capitalized on this by altering story headlines to appeal to conservative followers. This practice is not exclusive to Fox, as journalists under increasing pressure use large chunks of PR verbiage instead of conducting traditional news reporting. This has resulted in a decline of journalism jobs and an expansion of the public relations field. As the media continues to give audiences what they want, it’s up to us to consume information right, just like a healthy food diet.

The Danger of Inaccurate Information

A Gallup poll in 1993 showed that 46% of Americans had “great confidence” in TV news, but that number has fallen to 27% due to the consumption of incorrect information and biased reporting that supports pre-existing views. Delving into data is necessary to understand politics beyond news outlets. Big Tobacco intentionally spread propaganda to avoid the truth about the harmful effects of smoking. Similarly, influential corporations like ExxonMobil and Phillip Morris have funded experts to deny climate change, leading to intentional misinformation. Historian Robert Proctor calls this practice “agnotology.”

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