It’s easy to be “contrarian” and make up shit when there are no personal consequences. Politicians, journalists, and full-time Facebookers do this all the time. They will only face up to reality if they have skin in the game. If the consequences are immediate then they are more honest.
Quick feedback loops happen in restaurants every day. If the food served is not what the customer ordered then feedback is instant, the customer is unhappy, the chef listens and corrects the mistake quickly. The consequence of a bad meal is a crappy online review and lost patronage.
Here are some examples of how to keep the talking heads honest:
- They can support a war if they sign up to fight or their kids are conscripted. They will think long and hard about supporting a war on foreign soil when they have a loved one at stake.
- They can say climate change is a hoax if they agree to waive the insurance for bush fires and flooding. Losing their own home to a wildfire will sharpen their focus.
- They can be anti-vaccine, but they need to agree to send their kids to a school with other anti-vaxers. Herd immunity won’t save them in that scenario.
I saw the same pattern with COVID-19. Politicians, journalists, and full-time Facebookers kept repeating that seasonal flu was more dangerous and that we were overreacting. They were just doing what they normally do – which is opining on things they knew nothing about because they thought there were no short term consequences. Well, guess what? The consequences were immediate and deadly. People got really sick and died, and now they themselves are at risk of infection and even death.
Imagine if the consequences were immediate for the “boots on the ground” crowd and the climate deniers. Remember this the next time you see someone standing on a soapbox screaming about fake news. What have they got to lose and do they have skin in the game?