The Reviewer’s Fallacy

A really good article by Ben Yagoda on Slate about why critics are so far off.

Here’s the heart of the problem: The set of critics’ and audiences’ interests do not perfectly overlap but rather form a Venn diagram. In the audience circle, the pressing question is, “Should I spend some number of the dollars I have to my name and the hours I have left on Earth on this thing?” Critics get in for free and by definition have to read or watch or listen to whatever’s next up. So their circle is filled with relativistic questions about craft and originality and wallet quality and the often unhelpfully general “Is it good?” (Some of them even have an idea of what they mean by “good”; the rest are winging it.)

As we head into Awards season, and watching the Golden Globe awards a few weeks ago, I realize I hadn’t heard of half the movies or shows that were nominated. Granted, I’m not big on pop culture, but I’ve learned that I generally don’t like the movies the critics rave about. I’m looking at you, Birdman. However, I did find a few where I agree with the critics.

It’s a good reminder to be mindful of who’s doing the recommending and understand their biases. Don’t throw your money at or waste your time on any old “critically acclaimed” anything.

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