David Hopkins figures that what happened to the character or Ross in the Friends sitcom pretty much signaled the end of civilization. He has a strong point. Hopkins dwells upon the anti-intellectualism of Friends but while the show was on, I was horrified by it for other reasons. It was, to me, a show about horrible people doing really horrible things to each other, and then having a cup of coffee about it. I’ve got friends whom I’m pretty sure will always be there for me…but if I had friends like Friends, I’d become a hermit. There’s a reason I don’t watch much TV – and that reason is because TV sucks. I mean, it is really, really lousy. The actors can’t act, the writers can’t write. Everything is done paint-by-numbers, as it were, and there is no depth of thought or feeling. The last good TV series was Cheers, and even that was a pretty large step down from Taxi. But TV going from Taxi to Friends and, now, to twaddle like Dancing With the Stars does, in my view, show the intellectual collapse of our civilization.
Aside from being delighted to find another person who despised Friends, I’m also happy that I’ve got fellow people who understand we live in the Age of Stupid. Some years back – in the Blogs for Bush version of this blog – I wrote an article about the death of science. Naturally, our Progressive readers entirely missed the point; probably because they didn’t read past the title and figured I was arguing that science is wrong. What I was actually arguing is that we’re entering a new Dark Age. We’re giving up logic; we’re giving up reason – we no longer hold to the belief that this is a rational world, capable of being understood by observation and experiment. And, in fact, we are not only becoming incapable of the scientific method, we’re getting downright hostile to facts. Any fact which disputes our pre-conceived notions is rejected out of hand. When we see our SJW’s out there demanding that reality be made to fit their desires, this is what I mean – you can present them with fact after fact to demonstrate that what they want is impossible, and they will stoutly reject the facts. And they stoutly reject the facts because they reject reason – they reject, that is, the concrete, inescapable fact that there are truths to be learned. All they have is desires to be fulfilled…and they demand that they get them fulfilled, usually by incantation (all those slogans they shout, you see?). And woe to anyone who denies them!
Hopkins offers some suggestions on how to battle against the Age of Stupid, and they are good suggestions in the abstract. Reading a book and listening to a free podcast of a college lecture are both worthy things to do – unless, of course, the book you’re reading or the lecture you’re hearing is garbage. If your head is stuffed with nonsense, it won’t be improved by additional nonsense. Now, I can suggest some books for people to read – for instance, if you want to start developing an understanding on how the world works as far as war and politics go, you can’t beat The Fall of the House of Hapsburg and The World Crisis as resources. They are not, together or separately, a complete education in the matter, but if you read them you’ll have a far greater understanding of how things work in the world than if you read anything by a full-blown, modern Progressive.
Just as for viewing pleasure I would advise people to stick to movies made prior to 1990, so I suggest for intellectual pleasure books written before 1980. Nonsense has always been with us, and just because a book is 100 years old doesn’t mean it isn’t worthless…but even for Progressives, in the past there was at least an attempt at intellectual rigor. As in all things, there are exceptions – A People’s Tragedy: the Russian Revolution 1891-1924 came out in 1996 and it is excellent, even though the author does sometimes drift in to some irritatingly Progressive opinions about the why of it all. But, for the most part, delve a bit deep into the past for your intellectual sustenance. It’s not that people were smarter then, it is just that they for the most part felt they had to stick to evidence. Also, in my view, their writing quality was often higher – being products of a much more rigorous educational system, they simply knew how to use words better than writers these days.
Battling stupidity is never fun – mostly because those who believe stupid things are unaware that what they believe is stupid. That is why when I get into arguments, I usually suggest, gently, this or that book…all with a smile and a “you have an interesting point of view; hey, have you ever read this?”. It tends to work – I’ve moved people away from Socialism just by suggesting a book by Thomas Sowell. At any rate, just get used to this battle against Stupid – Stupid has a long head start and it will take a lot of effort to counter it.