"The Gell-Mann Amnesia effect"
Amnesia effect works as follows. You open
the newspaper to an article on some subject you
know well. In Murray’s case, physics. In mine,
show business. You read the article and see the
journalist has absolutely no understanding of
either the facts or the issues. Often, the article
is so wrong it actually presents the story
backward–reversing cause and effect. I call these
the “wet streets cause rain” stories. Paper’s full
In any case, you read with exasperation or
amusement the multiple errors in a story–and then
turn the page to national or international
affairs, and read with renewed interest as if the
rest of the newspaper was somehow more accurate
about far-off Palestine than it was about the
story you just read. You turn the page, and forget
what you know.
That is the Gell-Mann Amnesia effect. I’d point
out it does not operate in other arenas of life.
In ordinary life, if somebody consistently
exaggerates or lies to you, you soon discount
everything they say. In court, there is the legal
doctrine of falsus in uno, falsus in omnibus,
which means untruthful in one part, untruthful in
But when it comes to the media, we believe against
evidence that it is probably worth our time to
read other parts of the paper. When, in fact, it
almost certainly isn’t. The only possible
explanation for our behavior is amnesia.
American Media Is Corrupt, Biased, and Brainwashing
Michael Crichton (1993)