Though you can't always tell it from the comments, I have a lot of really akamai, funny, thoughtful readers, who frequently share interesting tidbits with me.
I thought it was time to use some of their contributions to develop the theme of dummies who weigh in — adamantly, loudly and insistently — as if they actually knew what they were talking about. And sadly, they believe that they do. Though I've long been fascinated by this topic, it surged to the forefront of my consciousness following this recent Facebook exchange:
#1 I was just reading another post that said that polio was not caused by a virus but caused instead by a pesticide that was sprayed on fruit orchards in the summer known as lead arsenate.
#2 This is where you need to check your sources. What's your source for this?
#3 Polio is most certainly a virus. Pretty sure the science is in on this one.
#1 NO, YOU need to check your sources.
#4 If that is true, then why does the vaccine work? This sounds like a conspiracy theory on the credibility level of chemtrails.
#1 Hahaha, the vaccine did not work and so the medical system played a trick on us like they always do when they are trying desperately to protect their vaccine theory. They made up a new disease and began calling the non severe cases of polio, meningitis and that helped decrease the number of polio cases dramatically. Sound familiar? Because that is what they do when vaccines KILL babies, they call it SIDS.
Me: And this is where we hit the wall.
Sadly, ignorance is too often fostered in the classroom, as evidenced by this Facebook comment left by a Hawaii substitute teacher following news of the Syngenta workers seeking treatment following exposure to pesticide:
"If it kills insects, obviously it will kill man."
Right. Like we have the exact same physiology! Yikes. And they wonder why the keiki are uneducated.
Which offers a perfect segue to a Psychology Today article that reports:
There is a growing and disturbing trend of anti-intellectual elitism in American culture. It’s the dismissal of science, the arts, and humanities and their replacement by entertainment, self-righteousness, ignorance, and deliberate gullibility.
Journalist Charles Pierce, author of Idiot America adds another perspective: “In the new media age, everybody is an expert.”
We’re creating a world of dummies. Angry dummies who feel they have the right, the authority and the need not only to comment on everything, but to make sure their voice is heard above the rest, and to drag down any opposing views through personal attacks, loud repetition and confrontation.
In fact, that need to weigh in on everything, even when you don't know WTF you're talking about, is so prevalent that Saturday Night Live turned it into a skit:
“The game is simple: We bring out three idiots and give them hot button issues and ask them, 'should you chime in on this?' The answer should always be no. OK, now let's meet the idiots.”
The New Yorker's Andy Borowitz also found the phenomenon richly ripe for satire:
Scientists have discovered a powerful new strain of fact-resistant humans who are threatening the ability of Earth to sustain life, a sobering new study reports.
The research, conducted by the University of Minnesota, identifies a virulent strain of humans who are virtually immune to any form of verifiable knowledge, leaving scientists at a loss as to how to combat them.
Of course, this particular strain has long been present in politicians, both locally:
Though I'm making light of it here, I worry about its implications for our society, especially since it's so often coupled with mind-numbing fear.
If only it were self-correcting:
If only it were self-correcting: