The fashionability of stupid

posted by Jeff | Saturday, August 3, 2013, 9:24 PM | comments: 1

My boss and I were talking about the things that frustrate us about our profession. We see things a little differently, but agree that there just isn't enough emphasis on education in this country as it relates to software development and the pursuit of knowledge in general. Particularly scary is the complete lack of interest in science. I would go even a step further to indicate concern over this bizarre desire to make science some kind of enemy or something that you shouldn't "believe" in, as if that will make it untrue.

Start with politicians who say the most ridiculous things, like a rape victim's body will reject pregnancy. Then you've got the people that are convinced, without evidence, that vaccines are bad, climate change is a myth, and gluten is bad for you even if you don't have a gluten allergy. No one bothers to look at the science behind anything, and they're content to just take what someone told them at face value. This doesn't surprise me. People post stupid shit online that's not true all of the time, and I almost get a kick from linking them to something with attribution showing how it's not for real.

The United States has come a long way. This is a country stolen from its native people, where slavery was legal and women couldn't vote. We've still got issues, but even today you can see things are getting better, and we're turning more corners, where people are people, to quote the song. But there's still a huge portion of people who can't turn off their TV's, and are content to be ignorant in their big box of stupid, and that concerns me. There are people who actually think you're being snobby or uppity because you engage in intelligent discourse and attempt to learn. I can't wrap my head around that. When did it become fashionable to be a moron?

I'm fond of pointing out that we all carry super computers in our pockets now, connected to a network that contains all of the world's knowledge. Despite this, people still choose to live in their ignorance and stupidity. That's one way of looking at it.

The other way of looking at it is that we have pocket super computers connected to the world's knowledge because people have completely embraced the need for knowledge and some kind of enlightenment or something. A little over six years ago, no one had an iPhone. Think about how ubiquitous this access is. It wasn't that long ago that you needed a computer to access this stuff, and even if it was a laptop, you still had to plug it into a wire to access the Internet. Go back 20 years, and there was no commercial Internet.

So there really are two ways to look at our current state of being. It could be dire, but maybe it's not. What I try to rationalize, if only to keep some faith in humanity and not feel it's hopeless, is that because technology makes it so easy to see stupidity and ignorance, it seems like it's reaching epic proportions. My hope is that the volume really hasn't changed, it's just more obvious. Technology enables the good and the bad.

Hopefully the good will continue to carry us forward. Stay in school, kids, and learn as much as you can about everything, especially science.


Jeff, August 9, 2013, 9:24 PM #

I've been reading your blog for a while now, but this post makes me wonder, only out of curiousity, if you've read "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance"? If you haven't, this is a must-read. If you have, well, then I have a couple follow up questions. It's perhaps one of the best philosophy books ever written.

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