Celebrating intelligence in a stupid world

posted by Jeff | Saturday, February 2, 2013, 12:25 PM | comments: 0

One of the things that I find frustrating about our culture, specifically in the United States, is that we no longer place any real value in intelligence. In education, we reward the successful measurement of things that have nothing to do with intelligence as a means to decide which schools get the money. In politics, we place everything in a binary context, no matter how complex an issue is. I imagine that some people would even regard this post as an act of snobbery and uppity-ness because I believe people don't care to think anymore, so therefore I think I'm better than everyone.

I don't understand how we got here, or if it has something to do with reality TV, but it certainly has to change. I recently saw a clip from The Newsroom that was so wonderfully honest that I watched it three times. It's another one of Aaron Sorkin's shows, dense with dialog where every word means something, and in this case I think every word is a fact we can't afford to ignore.

I've said before that I feel like the incredible power of the Internet is largely being squandered. I think that's the first thing that has to change. Reposting some bullshit on Facebook that says "like and share!" without validating it is a very sad and lazy way to engage the world. It's so easy to find information, but you have to want to do it.

We also can't simply take a position on something without context and understanding. If you selectively absorb information simply to reinforce what you already believe to be true, you aren't thinking. The more I learn, the more that I find I can't draw conclusions or take positions on issues. Again, the world is more complex than zero or one.

Perhaps the biggest concern I have is the strange contempt that many people in our culture have for scientists, doctors, teachers and others who use their brains to better the world. If we don't celebrate the people in these positions, we're doomed to an Idiocracy.

Conversely, I wish we would stop glorifying reality show people, political entertainment masquerading as cable news networks and gifted athletes who shame their sport with shitty attitudes. Everyone seems willing to admit it's a messed up situation, but does nothing to change it. I'm not against meaningless entertainment, but would it kill people to watch the fucking Discovery Channel now and then?

Like many things about our world, I'm optimistic that we are turning a corner. I think we have to out of necessity when folks feel like things aren't going well.


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