Fighting Against the Age of Stupid

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.

17 thoughts on “Fighting Against the Age of Stupid

  1. Amazona December 26, 2016 / 2:33 am

    Oh, come on, Mark. While I agree that there is a lot of crap on TV—I have hundreds of channels and end up watching three or four and lots of reruns—I enjoy some of the pop culture shows. I love good writing, and clever dialogue will get me every time. I hate “Reality” TV and refuse to watch it, unless Dancing With the Stars is considered Reality TV, and I like this show because I have two left feet and I am fascinated by how people as clumsy and untalented as I can so quickly accomplish mastering really complex and athletic moves. It’s why I prefer hockey to basketball—the addition of what seems to me nearly magical, the skill of skating, makes it so much more interesting.

    I can’t imagine being “horrified” by “Friends”, and didn’t see it as horrible people doing horrible things to each other. I didn’t watch it much, probably saw more in late reruns than when it was on, but all in all thought these people were pretty loyal to each other. I just thought it was vapid. I have a special fondness for “Modern Family” because so much of the writing is good, and the acting is quite nice. Interlaced with the broad humor of the show are subtle and sly bits that almost glide by unnoticed, and I like that. I was only moderately impressed with Cheers or Taxi, finding some shows good and some pretty boring. They were pretty broad, lacking nuance and subtlety. MASH had those qualities. I actually think that as far as general TV fare goes, we have better stuff now than we did with Dallas and Dynasty and Different Strokes, etc.

    I watch some shows rather analytically, looking at the underlying messages, and am encouraged when they focus on loyalty and family. I love Blue Bloods, and am recently rather enchanted by a new show, “Speechless”, which is about a 15-year-old boy with cerebral palsy, in a wheelchair and communicating by flashing on a card with letters and symbols using a later attached to his glasses, because he is played by a 15-year-old boy with cerebral palsy, in a wheelchair and communicating by flashing on a card with letters and symbols using a later attached to his glasses, who conveys more emotion and sly humor with his facial expressions than many actors do with dialogue.

    So if I think a show is well written or well acted, I think it’s OK, and I personally save my scorn for the “Reality TV” crap that is neither.

    I think the utter silliness and vapidity of so many of the people you describe has less to do with sitcoms than with the toxic combination of pseudo-news shows like Stewart and Colbert, the pseudo-humor of cretins like Samantha Bee and a lot of the “comedians” who pollute TV, and the successful indoctrination they get through our schools. The lack of intellectual rigor is not the result of sitcoms.

    • M. Noonan December 26, 2016 / 11:37 pm

      I just cringe so often when watching recent TV and movies – last night, I watched one of my Christmas presents: the Mrs got me a copy of The Sting. It was made for $5.5 million in 1973 ($29.9 million in 2016 dollars) and it grossed $159.6 million ($867.6 million in 2016 dollars). Sure, it has Newman and Redford (and the incomparable Robert Shaw as the villain), but it also had no special effects, no overt sexual content and only minor violence (well, minor compared to the slaughter-fests we see in some movies these days). It is just a tremendously well-written, well-acted and well-directed movie. What do we get these days? Failed re-boots of movies first made decades earlier; comic books made into movies; Rom-Coms which are entirely predictable. Yuck!

      I don’t think our lack of intellectual rigor is due to Hollywood and TV, but I think it nicely encapsulates it and helps it along…by glorifying stupidity (and pushing Progressive ideology), popular culture assists in our mental degradation.

      • Retired Spook December 26, 2016 / 11:50 pm

        I’m not one for watching movies more than once, and I can probably count on both hands movies that I’ve seen multiple times. The Sting leads that list.

      • Amazona December 27, 2016 / 12:19 am

        It’s a vicious cycle. People are less intellectually demanding and more tolerant of crudity and shallowness, that is what they get when they go to movies or on most TV, and this feeds the lack of intellectual vigor and standards, etc. It’s a downward spiral that feeds on itself.

        I am amazed at the admission from Hollyweird that they can’t come up with anything new, as evidenced by the constant remakes. And they hamper themselves with their self-imposed PC regulations, where they seem to go down a list of mandatory content: Homsexual? Check. Black hero? Check. Female hero? Check. No religion or religion is ridiculed? Check. Lots of F-bombs? Check. Nudity? Check.

        I remember liking Shakespeare In Love, and wondering why they felt the need for the totally gratuitous scene of a bare breast. It added absolutely nothing to the movie, and was so clearly thrown in as nothing more than cheap titillation it was insulting. I finally realized that it is OK to just walk out of a movie, and I have done so, several times.

        Like Spook, I seldom watch a movie more than once as a decision to do so, unlike people I know who will watch the same movie several times, but sometimes when a movie I liked is on TV I will look at it again, and The Sting is one of those. Every now and then I catch an old movie on TV and am impressed by the quality of the writing and production values. I seldom have that reaction to newer movies.

      • M. Noonan December 27, 2016 / 9:35 am

        They do check the Progressive boxes, don’t they? A few others:

        Dad is a moron? Check.
        Guy who holds down a job is annoying? Check.
        If it’s a cop flick, the real bad guy is a cop, or former cop, or a soldier or former soldier? Check.
        Insane guy is actually smart? Check.

      • Cluster December 27, 2016 / 9:03 am

        Aw c’mon guys you’re being too curmudgeony (is that a word?) There are several very good movies and one that I have probably watched a half dozen times is Miracle with Kurt Russell about the 1980 US Olympic Hockey team. Absolutely inspiring movie. Another fantastic movie is Unbroken about Louis Zamperini and WWII, another inspiring movie you will want to watch more than once. Or how about Hoosiers? There are still great movies out there, you just had wade through the crap to get to them.

      • M. Noonan December 27, 2016 / 9:38 am

        There are some gems in the slag – In Good Company, which came out in 2004, is all you can want in a movie…including to having Dad being a completely ok guy and in that it actually defends marital fidelity. If you haven’t seen it, give it look.

      • Amazona December 27, 2016 / 10:44 am

        Close, Cluster—add an “L” and you have it. Curmudgeonly.

        Mark, the point in the article about Friends was not that it was a horrible show filled with horrible people, but that the only one who was normal and smart and a scientist was also the butt of the jokes, with eyerolls and snark when he tried to talk about his job.

        I tried listening to “Unbroken” on an audio book and finally had to give up. The relentless litany of torture and then more torture and then more torture got to be too much. I’d feel a little better about it if the book/movie had educated Liberals that we, Americans, aren’t really all that bad, and that real torture is not the ritual humiliation of Abu Ghraib but real infliction of real physical pain.

  2. Retired Spook December 26, 2016 / 9:40 am

    There’s an old saying that education is the cure for ignorance, but you can’t fix stupid. I try not to waste my time watching or listening to stupid things or engaging stupid people. I have NEVER watched a “reality” TV show. I like entertainment that entertains, either by portraying something amazing, like a good magic act, or a good story that’s believable. One of my all-time favorite movies is The Blind Side, which is not only an amazing story — it’s a true story. Another of my favorites was August Rush.

    Blue Bloods is one of our favorite TV shows. It’s well written, well acted, and the characters have good chemistry with each other. I like the fact that every show has a scene with 4 generations of a police family sitting around the dinner table discussing the ethics or morality (or REality) of a situation that’s been part of the episode.

  3. Cluster December 26, 2016 / 10:47 am

    TV has certainly evolved and in many cases devolved over the years, but there is still quality programming out there. I purchased an Amazon Firestick not long ago and started watching Goliath which is an Amazon original series starring Billy Bob Thornton, well written, well acted and best yet, NO COMMERCIALS. Also House of Cards with Kevin Spacey is an excellent series.

    Read a great article this morning and this excerpt sums it up nicely:

    ….the Democrats rely on retaining minority support through lies and governmental dependence. Break that cycle, and it becomes a party of a few white wine-drinking toffs in high income zip codes and college towns.

    • Retired Spook December 26, 2016 / 12:45 pm

      We also got a Firestick last summer and scaled back our Dish Network subscription to the basic Flexpack + a news channel pack and the local channel pack. One of our favorite action dramas when it was on was 24, but we didn’t start watching it until season 6 out of 8. We’ve already watched seasons 1 – 4 since last summer on Amazon Prime with just season 5 to go. I always liked Keifer Sutherland in the roll of Jack Bauer, and we’re enjoying his new show, Designated Survivor, which actually incorporates some elements of 24 in the plot.

    • Retired Spook December 26, 2016 / 1:08 pm

      Loved the Kurt Schlichter article. This paragraph really says it all:

      Look, none of us want to spend our lives in permanent battle mode, but there’s no time out for the foreseeable future. We don’t have a choice. Our enemies – and understand that progressives are our enemies, not just opponents of good will who merely disagree with us – will not give up. They can’t give up, because they are so invested in liberal fascism and in controlling us that they have nothing else, leaving them no option but perpetual cultural and political war. We would rather life get back to normal, but there is no “normal,” not anymore.

      One of the ironies of the Obama years is that the Democrat Party has really been knocked back on its haunches. The amount of political power they’ve lost is staggering, and that fact needs to be part of any discussion with Liberals — keep reminding them that their savior destroyed them.

      I agree with Schlichter that we can’t quit, but Obama has certainly leveled the playing field — and then some, making the task going forward a whole lot easier. I know a lot of Conservatives who used to cower in discussions with nasty Liberals, who now just tell Liberals to GFT. Liberals are going to have to learn how to have civil, two-way discussions or they are going to wind up as “party of a few white wine-drinking toffs in high income zip codes and college towns.”

  4. Cluster December 27, 2016 / 9:56 am

    All of a sudden the Democrats are worried about partisanship:

    What’s that saying? You reap what you sow.

  5. ns,Retired Spook December 27, 2016 / 10:48 am

    Hopefully the Democrats will heed Maxine Waters’ advice and get nastier. I really was rolling on the floor laughing out loud after reading this.

    California Democratic Rep. Maxine Waters told MSNBC correspondent Jacob Soboroff on Monday that she believes her party is too nice and agreeable when they are in power.

    When asked if she thought Democratic leadership was being “way too nice” by agreeing to try to find common ground with President-elect Trump, Waters said, “That has been a problem in my party, that when we’re in power we’re nice. We bend over backwards to work with people.” (emphasis – mine)

    Sort of like when they wanted to pass ObamaCare, and they told the Republicans, “we don’t want your input, and we don’t need your votes.” Or when George Bush had a very narrow window to reform Social Security during his first term, and he told the Democrats that EVERY possible solution was on the table — and he welcomed them to that table. They told him they’d rather have a crisis in SS as an election issue to beat Republicans over the head with, and told him to pound sand. And when SS finally does go completely insolvent you can bet Democrats will blame Republicans.

    Your could print a list of the times Democrats have been nice and accommodating to Republicans in the last 16 years on the back of a business card. But go for it, Maxine — we enjoy watching your party implode.

    • Amazona December 27, 2016 / 11:08 am

      Too funny. You posted this while I was composing the following: When I am looking up links and so on I put them in a Word document, till I have it all together and ready to copy into a blog post, so this was ready to go when I read your comment.

      >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> <<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<

      It is fascinating to see the difference between Dems when they win and Dems when they lose. When they win, they sneer at us and snarl “We won” when we try to participate in government, but when they lose they suddenly start to decry “partisanship” and become less oppositional and more conciliatory.

      A great example of this is Obama’s Secretary of Education, a man who is by the way half black, who recently spoke in favor of “good” charter schools, in spite of NAACP and BLM opposition to them. Emphasis mine, with implied sarcasm

      “If we believe that public schools will always be the bedrock of American democracy and opportunity—as I do—we should welcome good public charter schools as laboratories for innovation that can benefit all of education,” Secretary of Education John King said at an event Wednesday hosted by the Center for American Progress in Washington, D.C.

      “Now is the moment to set aside policy differences that divide us,” he added.

      “NOW is the time”, “NOW” being when conservatives finally have the opportunity to show the entrenched Liberal “education” system for the miserable failure it is. “NOW” Libs are suddenly moderating their former militant stance against any options to the government systems.

      Watch this video to see the real impact, in the real world, on real people, of a program shut down by Obama and his Progressive attacks on education and choice.

  6. Retired Spook December 27, 2016 / 5:18 pm

    Another laugher from the YCMTSU file:

    During President Barack Obama’s “exit interview” podcast with his former advisor David Axelrod, Obama mentioned that he felt the Democrats lost the election in part because the media just wasn’t effectively communicating all the ways rural America has prospered under Obama’s presidency.

    “We — we devoted more attention, more focus, put more resources into rural America than has — has been the case probably for the last two, three decades,” Obama said on “The Axe Files” podcast.

    “And — and it paid great dividends, but you just wouldn’t know that, that’s not something that you would see on the nightly news,” he told Axelrod.

    Obama also purported that the Democratic party had not done a good enough job using emotional appeal as opposed to relying on the facts to make their case.

    I would submit that the ONLY appeal Democrats used, the ONLY appeal, in fact, that they have in their arsenal is “emotional.” The have NO appeal based on facts, results or any other metric.

    • M. Noonan December 27, 2016 / 5:25 pm

      It is common for the losing side to figure that everything but their record was the reason for the loss…but the Democrats this year are really living in fantasy land.

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