Food For Thought Stop The Press

Dumbing Down?

I admit that I have always viewed the throbbing masses of humanity like a flock of sheep they always seem to stampede down the path of least resistance, while this is certainly true for most situations but I would like to stand corrected I now believe and know that sometimes the opposite can be true too. Before my lifetime, there had been a global thrust and still there is for democracy which at least in theory gives power to the people in an indirect way. This powerful concept had been around for more than a millennium but only recently did people rise up in the face of oppression realizing that poverty in a democracy is far better than wealth in tyranny. Yet the people in power or let it be the media likes to portray the fact that the masses are dumb that things have to be simplified for them.

Frankly I disagree, put on your television and tell me the amount of real intellectual content that is on? I bet that you will be counting on your fingers, out of the 200 channels on display only few displays such content; they think and speculate that there isn’t a market out there for such content. In India even the news is a joke these channels do not spend their time on important legislation, market scenarios, discoveries and events that directly change the world you live in and impact your lives, instead majority of the times they cover family feuds or kids in wells or some idiotic comedian pretending to be some even more stupid actor. Tell me have you heard about the important humanitarian crisis occurring in Darfur on Indian television? It is their view that this limited and often exaggerated world view is what the public wants and sure enough people having nothing better to do sit down to watch these stupid shows. Have you noticed how they often turn to sensationalist oriented content for e.g. the recent London bombing saga now if Mr. Haneef had been arrested in India, nobody would have cared and he would not have been mentioned more than once by the news but since he was arrested in Australia they are going gaga over it. They are claiming brutality and what not but that’s one case and wasn’t he a suspected terrorist who had provided resources to terrorists? I would also like to add that have they thought about the thousands in tihar right now who are still awaiting trial since 10 years? Isn’t that brutality why doesn’t that make frequent headlines? Thus the view usually expressed in the media is extremely biased and narrow contrary to the objectiveness that is expected from them, there is a dreary chain of repercussions that are caused from this sensationalism starting from ignorant populous to enticing future terrorists.

This is an extremely dangerous trend we are “dumbing” ourselves down if not careful we will enter into some ghastly cycle in which ignorance leads to prevention of appropriate decision making leading to failure in the nurturing of rationality in future minds which again leads to further ignorance, this cycle is what I call a regress to stupidity. This is dangerous because if the people are not aware what is happening and are open to such techniques of propaganda, hence it will threaten the very functioning of our democracy, for it is only an informed citizen that can make choices and those choices often get translated into action. Intellectual docility may be profitable to the politicians in the short run but is absolutely suicidal for our nations nay the species in the long run.

Moreover, we have brought up with the idea that the majority of the people around us are dumb and incapable of abstract thought and we should display similar characteristics. Further we are encouraged against debate on serious and important topics. Go to any kindergarten class you will see children eager to learn eager to ask questions and then go to grade 12 you will see that rarely do people ask questions the same children have lost their sense of curiosity why? I am quite sure that it isn’t just puberty. They have been told nay it has been hammered into them not to ask questions. Take a look at science I hate the way it is taught in school we are not taught the joy of learning but rather it is rote centric. Understandably many children loose interest in science and are not receptive to the ideas that have shaped the world thus they are laying down the foundations of future brainwashing i.e. the ability to accept arguments without question and without knowing the reason behind them.

If children developed a skeptical mind they will start questioning the institutions like the government, the so called “traditions”, religion etc. This poses a certain dilemma; clearly there would be a lot of awkward moments for the elders who would have to review their own arguments for doing something in order to come up with a plausible answer. Further, the politicians won’t be able to hoodwink the populous as easily as they now do but I am quite sure that as usual they will find other ways, however it is important to try to pierce through their propaganda. We are a society that is based on science and if science itself hasn’t percolated down to the grass root levels, one might as well understand the consequences.

So in the end it is vital for us to inculcate intellectual freedom in the world and throw off the draconian concept of the dumb masses. We are currently at a crossroads of our species through our ignorance we can obliterate ourselves through the very tools we have invented. The only way of ensuring the prolonged survival of our race is through proper access of information for the public in order to create awareness and to continue the use of the all powerful occam’s razor with a healthy dose of skepticism.

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