Well that didn’t take long!
Multiple news sources have reported on a two-year microbiology study out of Rutgers University (Is the five-second rule real?). The upshot is: Yes, of course it’s not real.
What strikes me is that anyone actually thought it was real. We (meaning pretty much everyone I ever associated with) always understood it as a bit of obvious irony, a self-serving excuse for eating fallen food. If asked, I would have said one would have to be a real idiot to think it was real.
Well,… can’t say I’m surprised.
Looking back over the trail of sour bubbles, obvious themes emerge: Society, Politics, Media, The Interweb. Important topics that affect and reflect us. Topics I find filled with dire signs and portents, chill winds carrying a hint of smoke that makes my neck hairs stand up straight.
For example, Vin Scully is retiring. If that’s not a sign of the coming apocalypse, I don’t know what one is. Adding insult, my Minnesota Twins are having a bad season of truly biblical proportions.
So a strange sour silly summer…
Last time I wrote about willful ignorance as one good definition of stupidity. This time, I want to explore some ideas about why there seems a growing amount of it in modern society. Of course that necessitates first addressing the question: Is there a growing amount of it? I believe the answer is yes, but I also believe a lot of the reason for it is the growing complexity of society.
There was a time when a clever person could fix their washing machine or their car. Our machines were fairly simple then: a motor, a few hoses, some wires and belts. It wasn’t hard to figure out. A clever person with experience and tools could even fix their radio or TV. Replacing a burned out “tube” was a common household activity.
Now our machines bear the warning: “No User Serviceable Parts Inside”
The title above is deliberately a little inflammatory, but people who know me, and people who read this blog, may — not without reason — think this is a common sentiment of mine. And it sort of is, but it’s actually a code for something much more intricate and involved. Last time I wrote about Leon Wieseltier, whose ten-word critique of modern society blew me away, especially his central clause: “Not enough critical thinking.”
This time I’d like to explore — or at least begin exploring — exactly what (to me) the phrase, “People are stupid!” really means. There are some key distinctions to be made. For example, I don’t think people are more, or less, stupid than they’ve ever been; our brains haven’t changed in many thousands of years.
And let’s face it, we all take a Stupid Pill now and then.
In 2006 Mike Judge (Office Space, King of the Hill) wrote and directed a film called Idiocracy. It postulates a future 500 years hence when, due to “The Marching Morons” theory, the world is entirely populated by extremely stupid people. In this dystopian future, advertising and commercialism have run rampant in an anti-intellectual culture devoid of intellectual curiosity and thought.
As I watch what passes for communication or discussion on the interweb, as I watch in horrified fascination at the complete failure of nuanced — let alone deep — thought in people today, I begin to realize one thing:
The Idiocracy is here; I live in a world filled with morons.
One last very important distinction: there’s a big difference between being ignorant and being stupid.
To be ignorant is to not know something.
We are all ignorant. In fact, given how much there is to know, we’re all far more ignorant than not. Granted, some more than others, and if there is any crime, it is in remaining willfully ignorant in the face of knowledge.