Monday, November 3, 2014

The Anti-Intellectual: what the internet has wrought.

Serious problems require serious dialogue, serious contemplation, and weighing the evidence very carefully. 

Unfortunately, being glib with the details, expounding beliefs quickly and often, and always using cheap emotional opportunism instead of facts is what the internet rewards.  Lots of hits equals lots of views equals lots of advertising revenue. 

Go back in the way way back machine and look at an honest debate from 1970's TV and compare that to the clap-trap superficial half-hearted less-reported "dialogue" of today.

Here is a good example:  Monty Python discuss controversial film "The Life of Brian"

In this debate, both sides were right to an extent. The depiction of "Jesus" as Brian was blasphemous. Monty Python argued quite a bit better the merits and distinction of what they did and what they meant. I tend to agree with Monty Python over the religious people but at least they brought a real argument. There was some belittling and some emotional manipulation by the religious side but overall it was polite, it was factual, and even-handed.  To 1970's religious people this was a big deal in deed so there was lots to get emotional about. And on the other side, Monty Python had sunk their life savings and some money from George Harrison to finish off the film.  Both sides had a lot to lose.

My point is consider if we could actually pull this off today?

Hard problems are hard. Solutions are not easy.  Facts are important. People need to go through the challenge of working through and understanding a problem takes.  Sometimes the right solution will change with the circumstances. It's not something a 5 second sound bite can cover.  And it certainly can't be covered by blindly leading people to believe nonsense based on emotions and celebrity.

Wonder why we can't get consensus on global warming?  Could it be a result of how thinking has changed?  

Here is my current big problem with a celebrity I thought was not like this; until he demonstrated that he is more illusion than substance. 

I think Russell Brand owes Stephen Harper an apology

What we are breeding is in fact the anti-intellectual. Anti meaning "against intellectual pursuit" the traditional reason that was a gift of the ancient demos to us today.  

What mankind has adapted over generations are the skills and traits that engender success.  The best adapted survive better or so evolution goes.  In a society where being fast and loose with the truth and playing to your audience of supporters is what makes people more famous/rich than digging into a problem and coming to a reasoned solution then that's where the effort will go.  By rewarding this behavior we are supplying the conditions for continued adaptation over and over.

People that throw their clout around carelessly and without real research are endangering all of us. Endangering our future.  Not that we care what Russell Brand thinks of Renee Zellweger's new face looks like.  But we do care that we teach the next generation to be critical thinkers  as previous generations.

What is the point of suffering the life of a researcher, a scientist, a historian, and so on when making fun of a celebrity pays better.  We would bankrupt our future generations if they were not brought up to appreciate reason.

The biggest problems facing mankind cannot be solved by anti-intellectualism.