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The Proliferation of Ignorance

By Neil ~

I've heard it said that the United States as a nation is losing it's intellectual capacity. That we are quickly becoming (or already have become) a culture of mindless consumerism propped up by the hollow promises of fulfillment by the corporations taking our money. When I look around a Wal Mart parking lot, it's not hard to see some truth in this. A trip through the local shopping mall reveals the same. Browsing the Internet seems only to illustrate a concentrated essence of stupidity and ignorance in many of it's darkest corners.

IgnoranceImage by dhammza via Flickr

Yet I do find that there are many intelligent and intellectually honest people out there. Their own capacity for reason lays mostly dormant as there is not much call for it during the nine to five grind. They are keeping their heads down as they struggle to keep the family fed and the bills paid. They simply don't have the time nor the interest to engage the least of us in public forums. I am speaking of the average citizen here.

We gage the intelligence of our counterparts by what we encounter in social mediums like the news, documentaries. game shows and of course, the Net. It seems that we are beaten over the head with an expectation of mediocrity on a near daily basis. Very few of the Mass Media Networks are interested in taking a stand against ignorance. They appear more interested in exploiting and profiting from it. In this light, I wouldn't expect them to promote the brightest programming. I do believe this further perpetuates the myth that we all posses the mental acuity of cattle. My outlook for humanity isn't quite this bleak however.

I would argue that the Internet itself is where logic and reason now live. It still exists in libraries but there are few who still venture into the dusty volumes contained therein. As with any game that everyone is allowed to play, even the hard core fundamentalists have a voice here. They don't have immunity against reason or impunity to act and thus they lock themselves into members only sites that moderate comments with only the brand of deluded paranoia that they could muster. This applies to many different groups good or bad.

Does it appear that intelligence as a whole is waning because the public is steeped in mindless drivel? Or is it that fact that just about every idiot with an opinion (myself included) now has access to the world wide forum of the Net? Answers in Genesis would be a mere shadow of itself if it relied exclusively on paper correspondence. Their brand of idiocy would have never been so widely broadcasted. Pat Robertson would be even less of a nobody had he not have created his little media empire.

It would appear that having access to information in real time has done much to give the illusion that we're getting dumber by the minute. Idiots are entertaining and thus what is promoted? Religion just as any other business venture has witnessed the exploitable nature of the Internet as a tool to promote their brand of ignorance. I don't think they quite expected the amount of push back that they have encountered however. They can't dominate a conversation unless in is behind the walls of their fort. (Rapture Ready anyone?) For every view, there is an opposing view not far away. Enlightenment depends on which position you choose to hang your hat on.

In conclusion, I don't think that humanity is any less intelligent that it has ever been. Then again, I don't necessarily believe that it is in any way more so either. We simply have more access to each other now. We interact with each other in a way and magnitude that has never before been seen. Bad ideas seem more rampant because they are now capable of growing wings and flying across the ethereal landscape instead of dying on the vine locally. Who will carry the day will be decided by whoever has the most concise and intelligent shot gun with which to dispose of these bad ideas before they find a purchase and procreate.