How to Refresh Your Information Filter

“Hype” is short for “hyperbole,” that often noxious rhetorical device tactically deployed to get you to buy something – be it an idea, a product, or a service – you otherwise wouldn’t.

It’s the essence of argumentum ad passiones – an emotion-based appeal that rests on feelings rather than facts.

Appeal to emotion is a critical method messengers use to overwhelm our information filters.

We humans are wired, for example, to love bad news. It’s part of our survival instinct — and if properly understood, it can help prolong our lives.

As psychologist Daniel Kahneman has written, “By shaving a few hundredths of a second from the time needed to detect a predator, this circuit improves the animal’s odds of living long enough to reproduce.”

Failure to understand our fear response can also have negative consequences.

We’re off to a rough start in the 21st century – an era so far marked by the deadliest and most destructive attack on American soil in our history and a destabilizing, once-every-hundred-years financial crisis and economic downturnrn.

The former unleashed the worst tendencies of our national security state, reflected domestically in the sacrifice of basic civil rights such as privacy and internrnationally in the form of the endless Global War on Terror.

The latter exposed the craven incompetence of fiscal and monetary authorities, whose responses were and are shaped by a neoliberal Washington Consensus, serving American Empire, enriching the rich, leaving Main Street to suffer.

At the same time, over the last several centuries of human history violence has steadily declined.

That, as Steven Pinker writes in The Better Angels of Our Nature, “may be the most significant and least appreciated development in the history of our species.”

We are, according to Pinker, living in a more peaceful period than any other.

“News,” Pinker recently told Julia Belluz of Vox, “is a misleading way to understand the world. It’s always about events that happened and not about things that didn’t happen.”

News is a drug, and the mainstream media are your dealers.

They know we’re wired to pay attention to negative news. They use this knowledge to draw our attention to their advertisers.

They’re not necessarily lying about the world. All that bad stuff is actually happening.

It’s just that there’s no context. The picture is incomplete, unbalanced.

But now we know. And your mindset is critical.

Get to What’s Real

Will marijuana go mainstream in the next five years?

Will cryptocurrencies upend the financial system as we know it?

Will man set foot on Mars in our lifetimes?

Those are loaded, revolutionary, and overwhelming questions.

They also frame what could be fantastic fortune-makers for investors equipped with the proper information filters.

That’s what we’re going to do at the fifth annual Dent Research Irrational Economic Summit: provide information that will help you get past hyperbole and recognize real opportunities.

Brendan Kennedy is CEO of Privateer Holdings, the world’s first private equity firm focused entirely on legalized cannabis. Brendan will talk to you about his vision for “corporate pot.”

As Brendan recently told TechCrunch, “Our thesis was that this will be a mainstream consumer product used by mainstream Americans, and they will be looking for mainstream professional brands that don’t insult or offend them.”

Michael Terpin is co-founder and chairman of BitAngels, the world’s first network of angel investors whose interest is exclusively in digital currencies.

Michael will provide invaluable context for the rise of cryptocurrencies, including bitcoin, and the potential of blockchain technology.

And Stephen Sanford is a former NASA engineer. He’s also the author of The Gravity Well: America’s Next, Greatest Mission.

Stephen’s going to walk us through what it will take to get back to the Moon and, eventually, to put a human on Mars. He’ll also explain the enormity of the economic opportunity awaiting us in space.

Those are just three of the speakers you’ll hear from this October 12-14 in Nashville.

Harry Dent, Rodney Johnson, Adam O’Dell, Charles Sizemore, John del Vecchio, and Lance Gaitan, will also be there to help you cut through the noise.

So will past IES stars like Lacy Hunt and Andrew Pancholi.

And we’ll have new voices, too, including technology investor and entrepreneur Howard Lindzon.

“One of the most salient features of our culture,” writes American philosopher Harry G. Frankfurt in his widely circulated 2005 essay, “is that there is so much bullshit. Everyone knows this. Each of us contributes his share. But we tend to take the situation for granted. Most people are rather confident of their ability to recognize bullshit and to avoid being taken in by it. So the phenomenon has not aroused much deliberate concernrn, nor attracted much sustained inquiry.”

Well, Dent Research’s Irrational Economic Summit is an effort to fill this deficit of sustained inquiry.

Our goal is indeed to persuade – but with due regard for truth.

Over the next several issues of Economy & Markets, we’ll focus on identifying corrosive hyperbole and identifying real opportunities.

Stay tuned.

David Dittman

Editorial Director, Dent Research