Getting stupider by the minute

(A note to readers: This article was originally published on October 10th, 2009. Some links mentioned in the article are no longer available online.)



We are being prepared for some future event where you have to be really, really stupid.

In 1995, in his book The demon-haunted world,  Carl Sagan made a prediction about the coming dumbing down of America. What I’d like to know is how he knew way back then that we were going to get stupid.

“How have we become stupid?” you ask.

Well, to start, the media is constantly insulting us, with ludicrous news stories and “their version” of events.

When the media is not insulting us, then they’re trying to convince us that what we really care about is how some Hollywood starlet is growing out her bangs.

I’m going to tell you how stupid we’ve gotten by interrupting the writing of this article to go grab a few headlines from a major web portal right now and tell you how stupid they think we are. Just give me a second.

Here are the headlines I grabbed:

Headline 1

Which check-out lane is the fastest? 

One of them adds extra 48 seconds plus cashiers to avoid…more

Headline 2

Season’s Must wear Color

Clothes in this dramatic shade aren’t what have the fashion world abuzz. It’s the lipstick…more

Headline 3

Billy Ray urges Miley to tweet again…more

Re: Headlines 1 and 2

It would stand to reason that the fastest checkout lane is the one with the least people in it and that any adult in a store, trying to choose a checkout line would be able to make this decision without the help of this article.

But this article is here to do 3 things:

1) Give you this useless information.

2) Subtly plant the seed in your head that you need articles like these to make decisions like this.

3) Drag you further down the road to stupidity.

Headline 3

This headline does not try to secretly plant the seed or do anything covert. This headline is openly telling you straight to your face that you are an idiot.

Before I continue, I want to say why these little juicy articles that we click on every day on online portals are dangerous.

Have you noticed lately that you can’t remember anything?

Well, what do you suppose happens when you spend your days clicking from screen to screen, clicking on one page after the other, one juicy little bit of information after the other? Click. Click. Click.

After a while, your brain will be trained to process information in smaller and smaller increments. What is even worse, your brain will mostly know to process bursts of completely useless information in small increments.

If I had the resources to do an empirical study I would, but here’s what I know for sure:

Today’s brain and a brain 25 years ago are two different brains.

But let’s not just spend all our time reading juicy bits of completely useful information. We still have TV.

We can flip from channel to channel and choose between trash, rubbish, recycled story lines–because creativity is on the decline, contests that turn people’s hopes and dreams into a form of entertainment and more trash.

If the TV content isn’t filling up the time, then there’s always about 10 billion online videos to watch.

This onslaught of information overload is leading somewhere.

There is a battle going on, and the battle is for the mind.

This is a real thing and it is called Information Overload.

Others have called it “Weapons of mass distraction.”

Whatever is at the end of the road, we will need to be incredibly stupid to accept it because you don’t just walk up to intelligent people and tell them some crap.

You spend about 10–15 years wearing them down with garbage and then when you present them with the crap, they are in the right frame of mind to accept that crap.

We are being prepared for some future event where you have to be really, really stupid.

The best preparation may be to occasionally unplug.



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