Saturday, August 27, 2011

The Dumbing of Society

Here's what gets me.

I believe that as a society we are becoming dumber, I believe we are either ignoring or disguising this fact so we can be proud of ourselves and I believe ultimately this is going to be bad for us.

First of all, you need to decide for yourself whether, forced to make a choice, you would choose to do what is best for humanity or what is best for yourself.

Of course, the optimal choice is something that is best for both humanity and yourself, but we don't always get such choices, and I believe if we tip the balance too often for our personal gain, we end up making society dumber.

In nature, some still subscribe to Darwin's theory of Survival of the Fittest, or Natural Selection. Those species and members of species who can best adapt to the environment survive and reproduce, those least fitted do not. Therefore, the best, the brightest, the fastest, the strongest and the smartest survive. The poorer, dimmer, slower, weaker and dumber lose.

It doesn't take an Einstein or a college graduate to figure out that in the game of Life there are more losers than winners. In most sporting competitions, which obviously model the game of Life, there are more losers than winners, except of course, when there are only two competitors, such as in boxing matches and tennis games.

Even so, we still seem to be fascinated with the idea of only one winner, and so we create the "world champion" and "the Number 1 seed" for competitions between two combatants.

It doesn't take a rocket scientist or a college graduate to figure out that in the bell curve of intelligence, if an intelligence quotient (IQ) of 100 represents "average," the top of the curve, there are many more people of average intelligence than of genius intelligence. And in a democracy, in which the slogan is "majority rules," by nature we are probably allowing ourselves to be ruled by people of average intelligence.

Perhaps the majority of the people--by nature, those with average intelligence--"wised up," and that is why we don't hear much about "IQ" anymore. Perhaps the Embarrassing Sixties, brought on by the enormous glut of maturing Baby Boomers, is the cause.

In the Olden Days of the Frigid Fifties, grades were awarded fairly and systematically according to the bell curve of A, B, C, D and F. Fifty percent of the students got a C, 20% got a D, another 20% a B, 5% an F and another 5% an A. There were clear winners, losers and also-rans.

However, the angry Baby Boomers who thought Life was unfair and took over administration buildings with sit-ins, be-ins and what's happenings wanted to shorten the odds on becoming "winners." In many cases they got the Administration to change the grading system to one of "Pass-Fail." No more first, second, third, fourth and fifth places. You either won or lost. You were either on the bus or off the bus.

Now, clearly the onslaught of computer technology with its binary numbering system has some connection, but we no longer seem to care for anything more than winners and losers. Remember when Avis was proud of being Number 2? No more. We even extended competitions in order to prevent ties in sporting events.

Except for the Olympics, nobody remembers who came in second. It is no longer honorable to be anything other than a winner. "We're Number 1!" And if the team I support is Number 1, that makes me Number 1, too!

However, if everybody wins, then nobody loses. And if nobody loses, then nobody wins.

Why did we make jokes about not being able to program a VCR? Because the majority of us are actually losers.

Remember when we used to say "May the best man win" even in two-people competitions? Don't dare say that around feminists.

It doesn't take a Rhodes scholar or a college graduate to figure out that everybody would like to be a winner, but not everybody can. Once everybody is equal in terms of speed, strength and dexterity, all races end in ties.

Therefore, we need to compromise. In order to allow the human race to end in a tie with as many people as possible becoming winners, we need to cooperate with one another. When we help each other, we help ourselves and eventually everyone.

The only way we can all be winners is to revere the few Einsteins, rocket scientists, Rhodes scholars and college graduates for their victories.

I rest my case.

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