Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Ignorance Is Bliss

It must be nice to live in a world where suppressing knowledge and inventing facts are rules, rather than exceptions. How much better it is to go through life ignorant of those things which might upset you or lead you astray. How grand and satisfying it is, conjuring up fallacious tidbits to reinforce your delusional world view. Why surrender to reality, when you can live a life of happiness and joy, ensconced in your cocoon of prevarications and obfuscations?

For some odd reason, a great number of people have either come up bereft of logic and reason, or decided that facts should not get in the way of a good story. In either case, we are seeing, through the media, a wave of tripe that that threatens to engulf our country in a miasma of ignorance. And the media are complicit in allowing it to spread, by eliminating self-censorship for the reward of cheap and easy ratings.

How else can we explain the "birthers" cabal, or the anti-health-care-reform ranters, or the "tea party" crowd, for example? Here we have movements that either a) have incoherent and poorly parsed messages or b) have clear messages based on fabrications, innuendo, and outright lies. In either case, the record is easily set straight, the fabrications are easily debunked, and the messages invalidated by their unreasonableness and illogical frameworks. And yet they persist -- why?

We have methods of communication that span the globe at the speed of light, and ways of conveying this information that allow for individuals to dial in to ideas and data that match their view of the world. Satellite communication, 24-hours news, the Internet -- the scions of the digital revolution -- have made it possible for any idea, no matter how realistic, no matter how logical, no matter how factual, to be disseminated to everywhere on Earth, to be discovered, absorbed, and regurgitated by those who covet such knowledge. It only takes one person to put out a scrap of information, that within hours could be considered gospel.

There is no filter on information, anymore. No peer review. No editor. No oversight. Where those things exist, they are easily bypassed. All one needs is an Internet connection, and a place to deposit the information -- personal web site, social networking site, comment section of any news/entertainment site, etc. -- and through the auspices of "information" providers, web spiders, and re-writers, a "fact" is borne to every machine that can hold it, passed on to every computer that requests it, and lodged on data storage devices everywhere. Even if removed from it source, the information can never truly be erased.

Can it be any wonder, then, that so much unsubstantiated, illogical, and specious knowledge continues to plague us? Were it tucked away in a musty book, on a dusty shelf, in some dingy hall, it might never see the light of day. If the purveyors of such nonsense were still forced to go through others to have their ideas see the light of day, then many of these things would have remained in relative obscurity. They would be nothing more than fables, stories to scare children with, the intellectual equivalent of things that "go bump in the night."

Those of us aligned with the forces of reason, sanity, and logic will continue to rail against the descent into ignorance, but it becomes harder and harder to be heard over the din created by the maunderers and sycophants. The only bright spot in the current maelstrom is that the tools that allow such rubbish to exist and thrive, may ultimately be turned against it. Given time, patience, and the will, we may yet dispel the gray clouds of ignorance, and pull Mankind into brighter light and clearer air.

No comments:

Post a Comment