Mermaids don’t exist, says the National
Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). If that news disappoints you,
the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), announced, last month,
that zombies don’t exist, either.
Now, for me, these news items were a little
surprising – not, you understand for their content, but for the fact that they
were thought necessary.
NOAA released their denial of the existence
of mermaids to counter an upwelling of belief in them, after a recent Animal
Planet TV show: “Mermaids: the body found”. Apparently, the computerized
imagery showing mermaids, in this show, had convinced some viewers that
mermaids were real. In response, NOAA
said: “No evidence of aquatic humanoids has ever been found”.
So, too, the CDC denial of the existence of
zombies presumably comes in the wake of a case in which a man, apparently high
on some sort of drug, ate the face of a homeless man, in rather zombie like
behaviour. The CDC declared: “CDC does not know of a virus or condition that
would reanimate the dead (or one that would present zombie-like symptoms).”
Both of these announcements gave me great
pause. It is true to say that they are enough, in themselves, to turn one’s
world upside down. Of course, that is not because one might be disappointed to
learn that mermaids don’t exist and that zombies are entirely fictional. It is
quite simply because of the sheer implicit dumbness of the American people that
would require these scientific bodies to make such announcements. How dumb must
the population be, to be convinced of the existence of mermaids, or the truth of
zombies? How dumb must these people be, to live in fear of a “zombie apocalypse”...as
some apparently do?
We live in paradoxical times. Whilst
educational opportunities, in general, may be better than at any other time in
history, for the average person, we are also confronted with the sheer
stupidity of many modern people. Somehow, despite the opportunity to learn and
a considerable apparatus to do so, in almost all the world’s countries, people
still insist on being dumber than your average brick.
Particularly worrisome about this is the
fact that both these announcements came from American scientific bodies. This
is very much suggestive that America, in particular, may be suffering from a
surfeit of dumb people in its population. Could this be because American
education has declined in recent decades? Is the average person leaving High
School unable to distinguish reality and fiction to the extent that they need
to be told, via official announcements that the stuff of mere stories –
mermaids and zombies – do not exist in real life?
Modern civilization is upheld, not by the
average person, nor by the believers in zombies, or mermaids, but by the
intellectually gifted. Relatively few people know how the apparatus of science,
technology, engineering, architecture and medicine work. It is on such people
that the structure of society rests. Without them, society would be on the
level of the zombie believers. That would be the true “zombie apocalypse”.
The situation led me to wonder why our
scientific bodies don’t devote more energies to educating the public. What if,
instead of having to deny the existence of fairy tales, they could use the mass
media to educate the general public about science, technology and the world?
The only problem with this, of course, is whether the mass media would even
carry such stories.
Sometimes I do find myself agreeing with
Ainan’s sombre view of the future of Humanity. He thinks we are in for a
general decline in civilization, in the coming century. He sees signs of it in
the general decay of public consciousness and in the disregard for the future,
shown by our “leaders” (think, for instance, of the general inaction on global
warming). He doesn’t yet know about the zombie/mermaid believers. I don’t
expect it will fill him with any more hope to hear it.
I do hope Ainan is wrong on this point. I
would like civilization to climb to ever higher levels. Yet, then I hear
stories like this one. It is a worry.
Clearly, what is needed to address this is
for education standards to be raised to the level at which, at least, people
are able to distinguish reality and fiction. Is that too much to ask?
Posted by Valentine Cawley
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Labels: a country without a future, Ainan's apocalyptic future, TEOTWAWKI, the end of the world as we know it, the future of Earth, the future of science, The future of the Human race, the future of the USA