James is CEO and founder of Open Source Motor Drivers and a core team member at the San Diego Makers Guild. He describes himself as "just some clueless guy who doesn't know when to keep his mouth shut. Luckily, very few people ever listen to what I ramble on about. That's the beauty of the internet; it's big enough that almost anyone can be ignored." As you can see in the piece below, he's also discovering there's a flip side too that.
Well, I did some research, and IQ tests are not showing a drop. If anything, it's the opposite. So I cast about for what it is that's causing so many foolish ideas to spring up, and eventually came back to the question: "What has changed?"
I think the answer is this:
Most people are easily manipulated and always have been.
In the past, however, people didn't subscribe to too many stupid ideas, because the only source of them was themselves and their friends. The news was more or less accurate. Libraries filtered out patently false books. (Yes, they did; I couldn't even get Jack Kerouac). Book publishers wouldn't take a chance on a book that the library system probably wouldn't buy. Fiction was well understood to be fiction, and suggesting otherwise would get you laughed at. I hadn't realized it before, but our society used to have a pretty serious "bullshit" filter.
All that changed when the internet gave Russian, Chinese or other trolls direct access to our least enlightened citizens. That, in turn, forges connections between those who support each others' inane beliefs. There's safety in numbers, it seems.
That last point is obvious. What I wasn't getting was that in reality, some among us have always been this gullible; they had been protected, however, by an invisible filter that I didn't realize existed.
Could it be that this idiocy has always been among us, but the problem was hidden by forces unseen?