Any person skilled at dealing with the public knows this – but also knows how to flatter them, by praising their intelligence.
As I said in my last posting America Between the Wars, I am listening to a book about America’s behavior just before WWII – which was disgraceful. Indeed, its behavior during the entire 20th Century, up to then – had been disgraceful. It was responsible for the Great Depression that effected the whole world – and was one of the chief causes of WWII.
I was shocked to discover this was the world of my parents (I was only three in 1939, the pivotal year) and I had always idealized my parents – especially my father. It had taken me most of my life to realize he was a fool – but I didn’t realize how much of a fool he (and his fellow Americans) were.
They (the so-called Great Generation) liked to think of themselves as the winners of WWII – which was more-or-less an accident. America had great unused industrial capacity (due to the Depression) and the War let them to put it into action. It won the war by overwhelming everyone else – something we have always been good at – until recently.
But let me return to the subject of today’s posting – human stupidity. Which is especially acute in human groups. And which has gotten worse – not better. We have worked hard (very hard) at making our computers intelligent – but this has only resulted in making us even more stupid.
Because we have paid no attention to ourselves – and out built-in stupidity (or actually, stupidities). We need to know what they are – and how to compensate for them.
But first, I must go into how we have become more stupid. This is partly due to mass communications – first Radio, and then Television (the greatest idiotizing device of all time). Television was not just an irresistible technology – it was an industry – dedicated towards turning us into consumers. Which it has succeeded at completely – while no one has noticed.
People must have their TVs. People in remote areas, even without electricity, will go to any extreme to get it. They want to be stupefied – they absolutely crave it. TV acts like a powerful drug – one that is completely legal. And not only legal, but encouraged. It shows them how to be – in the simplest way possible. It shows them how to be stupid. The one thing they must know.
I hardly need to go into the effects of the Computer – except to note that it has carried this process even further. Our intelligence (what little was left) has been externalized into our hand-held devices – which seem to be us – on steroids. We are reduced to looking (and listening) to these marvelous devices – and pushing their buttons. Instead of us controlling them – they are controlling us. And we find this perfectly natural.
But, believe it or not – this is not all. We have suffered a reversal of values. Everything that used to be good – has become bad. And everything that used to be bad – has become good. And this astonishing situation has not been noticed at all. There must be a switch in our minds that, once flipped, made this astonishing change automatically.
As a result, stupidity became intelligence. And everyone feels quite proud of themselves.