Amusing Ourselves to Death

What’s your evidence for the claim that young people are not that engaged intellectually and that the population is becoming less intellectually capable? Relative to what? Despite all the crap on TV (what else is new?) and misinformation on the internet, I think we’re getting smarter, not dumber. 
If the general American population is getting smarter, why do most Americans believe in god, guardian angels, prayer, 9/11 conspiracies, homeopathy and UFOs, and reject evolution and human-caused global warming?  Why is the anti-vaccination movement growing instead of disappearing?  Why are universities increasingly being forced to depend on market-driven research, at the expense of real science?  Why are schools begging desperately for funding?  And why are all these getting worse instead of better?

Watch people on the street:  heads down, fixated on their “smart”phones, thumbs madly twiddling, as people walk into each other and trip over things.  What are they texting each other about?  New developments in quantum mechanics?  Critical evaluations of alternative medical therapies?  Ha.  It’s witless chatter about what happened on their favorite sitcoms, how “we” are doing in the football standings, or whining about their romantic partners ignoring them.  You know this because you can listen to them yell the same nonsense into their cellphones.

And what videos go “viral,” watched by millions?  The recent report that arctic methane release is rapidly spiking upwards due to human-caused global warming?  No, it’s some pop singer’s nipple-slip.

And where do people get their news from?  Reliable independent investigative reporters?  Or Fox?

Note that a couple of days ago the Guardian — a British newspaper — ran a story about how White House lawyers working for the Obama administration, within hours of a circuit court declaring NSA mass-data collection illegal, petitioned the secret FISA court to continue data collection illegally.  Which major US media have picked up this story?  None.

As to television:  In 1973 a massive natural experiment was conducted when a small isolated Canadian town that had previously had no television signal began to acquire the CBC.  “The introduction of television made kids more aggressive, harmed the acquistion of reading skills, decreased creativity scores, and cut participation in non-TV leisure activities,” among many other deleterious effects, with no good effects.  (From a summary of the research, edited by the lead researcher)

And since Neil Postman wrote his brilliant book Amusing Ourselves To Death in 1985, things have only gotten much, much worse.


About basicrulesoflife

Year 1935. Interests: Contemporary society problems, quality of life, happiness, understanding and changing ourselves - everything based on scientific evidence.
This entry was posted in Are We doomed?, Common, Human Evolution, Understand and Manage Ourselves, Values and Sense of Life. Bookmark the permalink.

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