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I live in the United States. Things are getting weird here. What used to be a reasonable country that placed a high value on science, morals, and upstanding character has fallen into disarray.
Why did the United States elevate stupidity as a virtue?
I have a couple of theories.
Humans are inherently lazy
All the challenging work is done
In the early years of the United States, there were plenty of clear challenges available for the masses. Our country was being built from the ground up with a new purpose, innovative ideas, and everyone wanted a piece of the action. In contrast to the present day, we have completed the big projects, and now we’re in maintenance mode. We the people need new, shiny, and lofty ideas that everyone can get behind.
We’re too busy
Too many distractions
Most people are trying to survive. The cognitive demand for today’s day to day activities is high. There is a barrage of conflicting information, and nobody trusts any of it. It’s not easy to sift through the misinformation to find the truth. If we have a job, we are rarely allowed to think of our next tasks before we’re on to another one.
Our cup of entertainment flows over like a monsoon in the summer. How many thousands of times can we watch the same trope over and over and binge-watch the latest hot season of Fuller House? How many video games can we play before we fall over from exhaustion?
No, YOU’RE wrong
Our tribes believe they have a monopoly on the truth. Laziness causes people to live within their comfort zone; titanium walls protect their view of the world. When invaders sneak around the wall, they receive a torrent of ad hominem attacks rather than common sense discussions. Public discourse is complete chaos, and we’re all losing our ability to discuss our different points of view in rational ways.
Too much information
It’s mostly garbage
In the technology industry, the concept of garbage in, garbage out is used to describe a poorly designed database. A traditional database is simply a collection of facts, and we safeguard those facts by crafting our databases with constraints and relationships. One of the biggest databases, Google, is full of garbage. The number of truths is minuscule in comparison with the half-truths and outright lies. Google leaves this alone for good reasons; they don’t want to go down the slippery slope of information suppression.
Like everything, finding balance is the key. We can flag information as suspect and use databases to store the fact that the data is suspect. Purists, like Mark Zuckerberg, will say that all content should roam free like a mosquito in your yurt. Somewhere in the middle lies a place where people can see contrary sources of information that disputes the lies perpetrated by leaders and influencers alike. We can’t continue to allow this garbage to rule the day and pollute our public discourse.
Principles & Honor
There is honor, even amongst thieves
Truth without principles is meaningless. Life without honor is no life at all. People believe that living without principles is fine. It’s not okay, and it’s one of the core reasons common sense is not so common. How can we advance science if we don’t agree on the principles of Newton’s law? How can we continue to have a common sense if we can’t accept that vices like pettiness, hubris, and political intolerance are negative behaviors?
So many others
I could go on and on, but I won’t
Life is amazing. We have so many opportunities in front of us. If we can find our common ground again, if we can recommit to our country’s founding principles, we can right this ship. Let us bring shame to those that divide us and lift those that bring us together for the common good. Our leaders must be held accountable for their actions, and we need to be responsible as well.