Some people like to classify different periods of human development in terms of ‘ages’. We’ve had the Stone Age, the Bronze Age, the Iron Age, the Steam Age, the Space Age, the Nuclear Age.
According to a friend of mine, we have entered what will be the last age of humanity, the Age of Stupid. And one of the problems is, well, this kind of attitude:
This quote from William James, a philosopher and psychologist from back around the end of the 19th century, pretty much sums up what’s going on these days. This quote was bogus at the time, and it is bogus now.
Belief does not create fact. Belief does not alter the facts.
But that doesn’t stop millions of people from thinking that it does.
We seem to have come to a point in human evolution where a lot of people think that belief does indeed equal fact, is even superior to fact. All you have to do is turn on the television, listen to the radio, read on the internet, and you can see that.
Sometimes when I see the list of people who, for whatever reason, accept belief over fact, I despair about the future of the human race. I see it every single day. The anti-vaxxers, the creationists, the climate change deniers, the scammers selling phony cures, the conspiracy theorists… The list goes on and on. And the apparently endless string of politicians willing to exploit the ‘true believers’.
How did it happen? How did we evolve a culture where the claims of a former Playboy model are given more credibility than those of actual doctors? When did the beliefs of someone like Ken “Jesus rode a dinosaur’ Ham become more credible than those of actual geologists, paleontologists and biologists? How did we end up in a world where people share the ‘outrage’ of the “Food Babe” when she expressed horror that there was nitrogen in the air of an aircraft she was in?
Do we really live in the “Age of Stupid”?