Animal Spirits Re-Kindled: Amusing Ourselves to Death

On today’s show, Ben and I talk about Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business. This book was written in 1985 about what the history of communication until the modern age. He was more than a little critical of what TV was doing to our society. Oh if he could only see Bravo today. I could only imagine what Postman would have to say about social media.

Listen Here


“there is a certain measure of arbitrariness in the forms that truth-telling may take”

“Anyone who is even slightly familiar with the history of communications knows that every new technology for thinking involves a trade-off. It giveth and taketh away, although not quite in equal measure.”

“We must be careful in praising or condemning because the future may hold surprises for us.”

“The form in which ideas are expressed affects what those ideas will be”

“Television does not extend or amplify literate culture. It attacks it.”

“Thinking does not play well on television, a fact that television directors discovered long ago.”

“There can be no liberty for a community which lacks the means by which to detect lies” (Walter Lippmann)

“In New York City, radio station WINS entreats its listeners to ‘Give us twenty-two minutes and we’ll give you the world.’ This is said without irony, and its audience, we may assume, does not regard the slogan as the conception of a disordered mind.”

“The television commercial is not at all about the character of products to be consumed. It is about the character of the consumers of products.”

“The A-Team and Cheers are no threat to our public health. Eye-Witness News and Sesame Street are.”

This content, which contains security-related opinions and/or information, is provided for informational purposes only and should not be relied upon in any manner as professional advice, or an endorsement of any practices, products or services. There can be no guarantees or assurances that the views expressed here will be applicable for any particular facts or circumstances, and should not be relied upon in any manner. You should consult your own advisers as to legal, business, tax, and other related matters concerning any investment.

The commentary in this “post” (including any related blog, podcasts, videos, and social media) reflects the personal opinions, viewpoints, and analyses of the Ritholtz Wealth Management employees providing such comments, and should not be regarded the views of Ritholtz Wealth Management LLC. or its respective affiliates or as a description of advisory services provided by Ritholtz Wealth Management or performance returns of any Ritholtz Wealth Management Investments client.

References to any securities or digital assets, or performance data, are for illustrative purposes only and do not constitute an investment recommendation or offer to provide investment advisory services. Charts and graphs provided within are for informational purposes solely and should not be relied upon when making any investment decision. Past performance is not indicative of future results. The content speaks only as of the date indicated. Any projections, estimates, forecasts, targets, prospects, and/or opinions expressed in these materials are subject to change without notice and may differ or be contrary to opinions expressed by others.

The Compound Media, Inc., an affiliate of Ritholtz Wealth Management, receives payment from various entities for advertisements in affiliated podcasts, blogs and emails. Inclusion of such advertisements does not constitute or imply endorsement, sponsorship or recommendation thereof, or any affiliation therewith, by the Content Creator or by Ritholtz Wealth Management or any of its employees. Investments in securities involve the risk of loss. For additional advertisement disclaimers see here:

Please see disclosures here.