Gell-Mann Amnesia effect

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Alternative forms[edit]


Coined by American author Michael Crichton in a 2002 speech, named after American physicist Murray Gell-Mann (see quotation).

Proper noun[edit]

Gell-Mann Amnesia effect

  1. The phenomenon of people trusting newspapers for topics which they are not knowledgeable about, despite recognizing them to be extremely inaccurate on certain topics which they are knowledgeable about.
    • 2002 April 26, Michael Crichton, “Why Speculate?”, in[1] (speech), archived from the original on 2007-07-14:
      Briefly stated, the Gell-Mann 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 of them.
      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.
    • 2016 April 1,, “Flotation ignorance - Women's Boat Race”, in[2] (Usenet):
      I believe the Gell-Mann Amnesia Effect applies here.
    • 2018, Adam Barr, The Problem with Software: Why Smart Engineers Write Bad Code, Cambridge, M.A.: MIT Press, →ISBN, page 253:
      It was a variation of the Gell-Mann Amnesia effect, where people realize that news stories about their areas of expertise are simplistic or inaccurate, but completely trust news stories about topics they know nothing about.
    • 2019 April 22, Ubiquitous, “CNN Can't Do The Mueller Report Math”, in[3] (Usenet):
      One positive thing to come out of the Trump era is that another media critic, whom I am related to by marriage, has noted that we might be seeing the end of Gell-Mann Amnesia.
    • 2021 August 20, Rich, “artful routing”, in sci.crypt[4] (Usenet):
      Then, while reading other stories for which you have actual knowledge, keep the Gell-Mann Amnesia effect in mind.
    • 2022, Robert W. Malone, Lies My Gov't Told Me, And The Better Future Coming, New York, N.Y.: Skyhorse Publishing, →ISBN, pages 414–415:
      Whether it is Gell-Mann Amnesia, groupthink, the dominant paradigm as defined in the book The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, or mass formation psychosis acting alone or in synchrony, don't let your mind go there. Think for yourself.
    • 2023 January 20, Kevin Roose, “Elon’s Crumbling Empire and Generative A.I. Goes to Court”, in The New York Times[5], New York, N.Y.: The New York Times Company, →ISSN, →OCLC, archived from the original on 2023-02-22:
      Yeah. In some ways, it reminds me of the inverse of this thing called Gell-Mann Amnesia.

Further reading[edit]