YouTube, the Internet, and the Stupidification of Mankind (A Rant)
1) making one less intelligent
2) filling people’s mind with patently false concepts, ideas, or historical information
3) reducing or eliminating common sense and rational thought in others
Verb (see stupidification)
I can’t stand it anymore. If I don’t rant my head will explode.
I am a child of the 60s. I was there when it happened I saw it with my own eyes. I am also a man of rational thought and historical perspective. I understand and follow the scientific method and I have a good grasp of recent and ancient history.
Humankind has made incredible advances in the last 5000 years. We have gone from wandering about foraging for food, living in fear of nature, disease, and the elements to almost totally mastery of our environment. We have greatly improved the life expectancy and quality of life of the majority of people living on this planet. We have identified, studied, and cured numerous diseases. We have dramatically improved the food supply. We have improved sanitation, the quality of the water we drink and the safety of our work environment.
In the past 5000 years our concept of mathematics has gone from one / few / many to calculus and higher forms of mathematics. This has enabled the advancement of the sciences and our understanding of chemistry, physics, and the world around us, below us, and above us. We have gone from walking on foot to spanning the globe by land, sea, air, and space. Our roads and automobiles allow us to travel farther in an hour than ancient people could travel in a day. Modern air transportation can take us nearly anywhere in the world in less than a day. Manned and unmanned spacecraft circle the Earth in 90 minutes.
Our accumulated knowledge of the past 5000 years has allowed us to develop the technology required to build computers, routers, switches, fiber-optic cables, the Internet, online banking, video communication, websites, blogs, YouTube, streaming music, smart phones, tablets, and much much more. Geosynchronous satellites provide weather information and satellite television. Google, Bing, and other search engines provide us instantaneous access to all of mankind’s knowledge. Men and women graduating college today have never known a time without this technology and we all take it for granted.
Eratosthenes first determined that the Earth was a sphere in the first century BC and actually calculated its circumference to within 15% of its currently accepted value. The fields of surveying and geodesy have established to the nth decimal point the shape of the earth as an oblate spheroid and have developed a vast selection of projection systems (aka Coordinate Reference Systems) used by map makers and the global GIS community to map sections of the three dimensional earth to the two dimensional maps used by governments, companies, and individuals. The map applications on our smart phones rely heavily on this body knowledge. The global network of fiber-optic subsea cables that empower the global Internet could not have been laid without this body of knowledge.
Mankind has been a spacefaring nation since the late 1950s with launch of Sputnik by the former Soviet Union. Humanity has had a more or less continuous human presence in low earth orbit since the early 1960s beginning with Russian cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin. To date Russia / Soviet Union, the United States, and China have launched men and women into space. Each of these countries has had multiple long duration space stations in orbit. A total of 544 people have been in orbit. Twelve Americans walked on the surface of the moon during the Apollo program of the late 1960s – early 1970s. The total time spent by humans in space is in excess of 131.3 man-years. The following countries have some form of manned and/or unmanned space program: America, Canada, China, Europe, Japan, India, and Russia. Unmanned scientific probes have studied every planet in our solar system. India has a robust unmanned space program and it successfully placed the Mangalayaan probe into Martian orbit on its first try in 2014. World Space Flight has documented every manned and unmanned mission to date.
The knowledge mankind has acquired in the past 5000 years is vast and deep. The technologies we have developed with this knowledge are nothing short of magical.
The “straw the broke the camels back” occurred while preparing my previous post on the Falcon 9. I ran across a YouTube video on “FakeX” whereby the vlogger reviewed footage of the last SpaceX CRS-8 launch and step-by-step pointed out how every aspect of the video was fake. His explanation and reasoning for each of his points indicated how truly clueless, ignorant, and stupid he was … and yet this video had thousands of views and the vlogger had thousands of followers. Most of the comments and commenters agreed with him. I won’t give you the link because I don’t want to give him another view. Across the Internet and YouTube you will find hundreds (thousands?) of videos “proving” how we have been lied to about:
The Earth is really flat and not a sphere – we’ve been lied to
NASA is lying to us – all spaceflight is faked
The Moon landings were all faked
9/11 – the Twin Towers were brought down by controlled demolition, not planes
The holocaust never happened
Pretty much if you can name an established fact, you will find a blog and a host of YouTube videos “proving” that it is obviously not true and that we have been lied to. A vast global conspiracy has lied to us about pretty much everything we have ever been taught in school or college.
Funny you think? Maybe, until you realize that this counter-culture numbers in the hundreds with followers numbering in the thousands or more. Globally. Millions of views. It is not so much a disbelief in reality as it is a readiness to BELIEVE that everything we have been told or taught about [insert topic] is a lie.
How do you teach science to kids when an Internet search is just as likely bring up even more sites and YouTube videos refuting the science. In a world where everyone gets equal time the “NASA lies crowd” get as many hits as the “NASA crowd”. Even worse Google and YouTube give you suggestions based on your viewing history. Months ago I watched some flat Earth videos and faked Moon landing videos. Now most of videos suggested for me by YouTube are exactly these kinds of videos. “There must be some truth to this if there are that many videos.” And … if someone tries to refute the “we’re being lied to video” the vlogger responds with “wow look at how hard they are working to prop up the big lie.”
Think I’m over reacting? Go to YouTube and search on “NASA lies” or “flat earth” or “Moon landing hoax” or “holocaust hoax” or “9/11 hoax” or … or … or … Look at the number of views. Look at the comments. If you personally did not experience it how do you know what is truth? Science? Laws of Physics? All lies.
Lies lies lies everything you have ever been taught about anything is a lie. AND YOU CAN’T PROVE OTHERWISE.
Whew, OK I’m calmer now … but I’m not done yet.
The irony in all of this is that the Internet and YouTube would not even exist were it not for the very technological advances and hard earned knowledge that the conspiracy theorists tell us are all lies. Global subsea cables and communications satellites are the backbone of the Internet. Flat Earth? I don’t think so.
We live in a society exquisitely dependent on science and technology, in which hardly anyone knows anything about science and technology. – Carl Sagan
So back to the title of this rant … YouTube, the Internet, and the Stupidification of Mankind
YouTube and the Internet give anyone regardless of intellegence, education, or cognitive function equal footing with the brightest and most learned among us. It is the great equalizer … and the great stupidifier … on a global scale … 24×7.
See also The War on Science