David Brin: Why culture war?

  • Published on December 17th, 2011

By David Brin 

bank transfer day coming November 5Yes, Phase Three of the American Civil War has been foisted on us by powerful, cynical men for their own political and economic gain.  But there have to be deeper things going on.  Psychological drives that those men cleverly exploit.

Our next guest, researcher and science fiction author Dr. Charles Gannon, has offered his own diagnosis of Culture War and why so many millions of our neighbors nod along with Glenn Beck, marching willingly to enlist in the Great Big War on Science… and on teachers, doctors, journalists, civil servants, and so on, biliously hating every American knowledge profession.

(Go ahead and ask your crazy uncle to name ONE major center of American intellect and knowledge that isn’t under attack by Fox and co. Make it a wager!)

Chuck Gannon suggests that in this modern, dizzying age, people respond to that most primal of all fears: fundamental loss of control.

“In short, people are realizing more and more that they know less and less about almost everything in their lives. How many people understand what is going on with the euro and how that’s part of a much bigger picture? How many understand ANYthing about how their smartphone works–not what it does, but how it WORKS?  What are the ethics of cloning? Of copyright? Of no child left behind versus the death of rigor and excellence?

“Head in hand, they feel the grey matter between their hands threatening to explode. And they want relief. And  they have their eureka moment. “I know! I will adopt a stance! And so what if I can’t figure out my own stance? I can BORROW one! 

“I will shop amongst the bazaar (bizarre) of demagogues and choose the one that says the things I like best. And the details–well, they’re only details. Someone else will think about those–and besides, I’m fed up with details. (Secretly, where they can’t even hear it: “all those details I don’t understand make me feel stupid….”)

“I suppose, at some level, it has ever been thus. However, I think the Tofflerian Waves and Culture Shocks geometrically amplify the discomfort. The distance between the haves and have nots is growing, yes–but I think the separation between the knows and know-nots is growing just as fast. It is not that they ARE stupid, but they feel that way. 

“And in a culture which panders to couch-potato passive consumption of media and goods, dumbs down the critical reasoning component of schools (and life), and in which an integrated view of “reality” moves further and further beyond the reach of even the most cognitively proactive folks, they hardly have the role-models or encouragement, or preparation to FIGHT through the tides of uncertainty in their lives and set sail upon the high seas of perpetual indefinitude that is the modern world.”

Worth pondering.  Thoughts anyone?

== Call the GolgaFrincham B-Ark! ==

Our next guest, my cousin Jonathan Baskin, has some pretty cool insights into the pathetic world ofPublic Relations spin-doctoring.

“The public relations industry’s trade association is running a campaign to come up with a new definition for PR. I can see the problem, since social media technologies have democratized the tweaking, spinning, and obfuscating of the truth that used to be the exclusive purview of PR professionals. In an age when anyone can be an expert on anything, every opinion is as valid as the next and no fact need go unchallenged, contradicted, or ignored. The mediascape has become a truth free zone. You’d think the PR people would have died and gone to heaven, but there’s no money to be made when nobody needs an intermediary to peddle access through those Pearly Gates.

“We’re all PR people now.”

(Originally appeared at David Brin’s blog, Contrary Brin)

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  • frissell

    Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, The Skunk Works, Cal Tech, MIT, Carnegie Mellon, Huntsville, Oak Ridge, and the list goes on…

    Right wingers also like classical ed which covers a lot of ground and is of a higher quality than current commie garbage. It has the further value of being open source and free. You guys gave up classical ed after the UUs took over Harvard. There are actually quite a few centers of American (and World)intellect that conservatives

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