San Diego Soliloquies

Sunday, December 26, 2004

Not Studying the Past, Blindsided by the Present

"The Internet" started a long time ago, with most dating it back to Bolt. Beranek and Newman's experiments in survivable networks for DARPA in the late '60's. In that time we have developed many layers of communication technology that made it easier, first for computer scientists, then technologists, then, slowly, the carbon-based bipedal community with which we share this planet.

Email, uucp, usenet all fostered greater communication, which like any innovation, had its dark and bright sides. The bright side is obvious, the dark side is always surprising. Somehow the freer, more open communication not only allows greater cooperation, growing knowledge and increasing productivity, it also encourages the nuts to bless us with the echoes inside their head. And it was always shocking how many nuts there were.

I remember the first times I ran into the big three idiocies, Holocaust denial, Creationism and "Taxation is Robbery", on Usenet. I was incredulous. It's like the first time you see someone relieve themselves in public. Your initial reaction is, "Oh My God, what drive them to that extremis?" Then, upon repetition of the action you realize that somehow, some way, these people missed some key lessons in the growing up phase of life, of which they are now inexplicably proud. Sometimes folks would gang up to fight these idiotic ideas (though the IRS has done a pretty good job on the third group). But as hot as these got, this was all just bytes flying among geeks and those few civilians brave enough to get on-line.

Then Usenet, ftp, gopher and a new protocol, http, all got rolled up into a concept called a "browser". In the early 90's a lot more people came on-line and the same sorts of issues broke out. There is nothing more stunningly ignorant than a zealot, but, as cable news networks prove daily, nothing more compelling either.

But now, with the triumph of a profoundly ignorant man as president, the most house-trained of the idiocies, Creationism, newly packaged as Intelligent Design, is back in fashion. The newest twist is that by pointing out that this is not science, this is not something that should be taught in schools, and perhaps this imebcility might explain why Johnny and Judy can't add, read or reason, you prove only that you have been brainwashed by the MSM. We're in for a lot of this over the next four years. Now that the presidential campaign is over, where else will all that energy go but into more woe is me, I'm a cruelly oppressed white middle-class Christian in a white middle-class Christian country dominated by a white middle-class Christian culture? It takes a lot of energy to figure out that Evolution is actually an attack on Christianity, that the celebration of Christmas is actually an attack on Christianity and that people trying to follow the message of Christ are actually attacking Christianity.

I personally can't think of a greater attack on the message and meaning of the life of Jesus Christ than modern Evangelicism and its adherents. Package that with the idea that the Lord God lies to us, planting mis-leading clues such as speciation, carbon-dating and fossils to mislead us, to test our faith, and you have a truly pernicous know-nothingism.

But that's just me, another nut hanging on the tree of the blogosphere.


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