When did we forget how to think?
No, seriously — I just read a story about Google. The CEO was lamenting the fact that it was very, very difficult (read: impossible) to “teach” an algorithm to recognize “fake news” when both sides vehemently believed what they were saying.
That’s what human brains are for, goddammit!
Why on Earth would you ever expect — why on Earth would you ever want — a computer program to determine “truth” for you?! That is utterly and completely asinine.
One of the hallmarks of being ostensibly intelligent, self-aware beings (besides opposable thumbs, and shit like the Kardashians) is the ability to…you know…judge for yourself.
That ability, that judgment, is both privilege and burden…which is as it should be. Anyone who expects someone else to lay it all out for them, to tell them what and who to believe, deserves the empty shell that their life has become.
Now, look: I know I’m an old, cranky bastard — shit, the fact that I actually remember the Ewok Christmas special is enough to tell you that! — but I simply can’t be alone in this. Do people no longer learn to assimilate information, weigh the evidence, and make their own judgment? C’mon, it ain’t that hard, folks!
The real problem, unfortunately, seems to be the same for people as it is for Google: when people disagree, it is hard to decide. Unfortunately, far too often “we” (as a people, not us in specific) tend to shortcut the judgment-thing and just go with what our “team” says.
“A conservative Republican/liberal Democrat said it, so it must be true.”
And of course, the converse: “those (other) evil bastards believe it, so it must be a nefarious plot…”
It goes back to something I harped on over the summer (while avoiding most of this crap by living in the wilderness): we, as a country and a society, are so polarized, so split and torn-apart, that we can’t agree even on a common set of facts. Black and white no longer have the same meanings to people on different “teams”, and 1+1 only equals 2 when it benefits one side over the other.
This is, by the way, how societies die: not in great, thunderous wars but in the pathetic whimpers of blind, narcissistic parochialism.
Those voices howling alone in the wilderness? Those voices trying to stand against the tide and scream “No More”?
Yeah, those are the voices of those trying to hold it all together. The voices of common sense and the good of all above the good of self.
The voices of those losing the fight.
Now a philosopher, or a profound thinker, would have a list of prescriptions and advice to try and address this problem. Me? I just want to slap the shit out of most of these folks.
“Wake up!” I want to scream. “Wake up and use your fucking brain!”
Hrm, didn’t seem to work…
Back to the wilderness, and to my solitary howling, I guess.