Socially Acceptable Ignorance

January 26, 2016Category: PoliticsTags: , ,

The internet is a wonderful thing. It has allowed information to flow in unprecedented levels, art, music, movies, etc to be accessed across the world, and people to communicate with ease that the world has never seen before. However, it has also allowed for bubble chambers to grow. Lets set aside normal mainstream differences of opinions, such as Democrat or Republican. You can believe in literally the dumbest conspiracies out there, and now find websites and forums of hundreds of people who believe just like you. This allows for unprecedented reinforcement of beliefs that are not just wrong, but are provably, demonstrably wrong.

The conspiracy theory that has prompted me to write this is the Flat Earth Theory. What, you didn’t realize that was a thing? Turns out it is. And hell, maybe they are right. If you set aside the fact that it was proven centuries ago. It is literally mathematically impossible for the Earth to be flat. Surveying wouldn’t work, orbital physics wouldn’t work. It’s so completely proven that part of me has been wondering if this is actually just some sort of joke that a group of Redditors has foisted on us.

But it’s not. There are a lot of people who honestly really believe this. And like all conspiracy theorists, they don’t give a shit about evidence.

NASA is lying.

I can’t understand that surveying book so it must not be true.

We aren’t allowed to go into Antarctica because the government is hiding the wall.

You’re just a shill!

I mean it’s honestly laughable, if it weren’t so scary. A group like this can’t be reasoned with or stopped, and it’s only a single example of the many many conspiracy groups out there. It used to be individuals, but now they can link up. And with a group comes group reinforcement. Groups provide a sense of identity, and hostility to others who are adversarial (in this case all reasoned people, and most of society). The internet is creating ever larger groups of people who are willing to believe anything at all, and who cling to these believes with passion. And there is really nothing we can do about it.

The rapper B.o.B. recently came out as a Flat Earth believer, and drew forth none other than Neil deGrasse Tyson into a twitter battle. Tyson made the mistake of trying to reason with B.o.B. To use evidence and respond point for point. What happened? Nothing, that’s what. B.o.B. continues to promote Flat Earth.

Once something like this starts, it’s difficult to stop. We as a society have allowed nonsense to become socially acceptable. Gluton is bad, aspartame is evil, GMOs will kill you, the Earth is flat, all Muslims are terrorists, God hates gays. All of these things are silly, but the fact that so many people actually honestly believe them is the reason that I worry for the future of this country.