Bad news humanity, we’re turning into dingbats
A recent report from Stanford University claims that human beings are less smart and emotionally stable than their cave-dwelling forebears. This is clearly nonsense. There were only three bears.
I read the report on a news website. The date was 11/13/2012. For a second this made me think the content was accurate and I was so thick I had missed the memo adding a thirteenth month to the year. Then I realised it was a US website, with their back-to-front calendar, and breathed a sigh of relief.
Given the content of the report, its author Geraldine Crabtree probably should have published it as a children’s book with illustrations rather than an academic document. Instead, she confounded us numbskulls with complicated sentences such as: “I would be willing to wager that if an average citizen of Athens of 1000 BC were to appear suddenly among us, he or she would be among the brightest and most intellectually alive of our colleagues and companions.”
Phew, not me then, just the people I work and hang out with. (I’d put a winky emoticon thingy after that joke but I wouldn’t want to prove Crabtree incorrect by showing her how we clever-clog humans have evolved punctuation into sign language. OK, perhaps it’s coming at the slow expense of words, but let’s not quibble. I’m not smart enough to quibble. Dribble, on the other hand . . . not a problem.)
The reason for our alleged dumbing down, Crabtree explains and The Huffington Post reports, is because “in our comfortable world, evolutionary pressures are far less intense, leading to a higher preponderance of dumber people”.
Bloody Woolworths. If I had to catch my dinner with a spear I’d be a Rhodes Scholar.
I had to look up the word “preponderance” in the dictionary. I know, I know, that wise old bastard from Athens wouldn’t have had to. He wouldn’t have time. He’d be too busy pulling out his hair and yelling “What the fetta have you done with the economy?! It was working perfectly when we were swapping goats!”
Why Crabtree would use a word like “preponderance” in a report she believed she was handing to human half-bricks is beyond me. But lots of things are beyond me according to the report.
Here’s what’s beyond me when it comes to 21st-century humanity:
1) We design computers that make human beings redundant. I would understand this if computers got married, needed to raise families or go to the dentist. But the last time I checked, apart from an episode of The Goodies in which Graeme Garden married his PC, computers don’t actually feel anything. Even when you belt them because they’re not working properly, they won’t be in the least bit inclined to take out a restraining order against you. Sure, we can use them to our advantage, but to factor ourselves out of the equation at every opportunity seems like a Crabtree idea to me.
2) We measure the worth of things in financial terms. Culturally, this could be costly. The National Library is as “valuable” a building as the Royal Australian Mint.
3) We have made the cost of putting a roof over our heads extortionate. It wasn’t enough to have one home. We needed two, three, four . . . Housing became a way to make money rather than to keep the rain off. Property investment portfolios became the chit-chat at barbecues and before we could say “Is that an organic sausage?” we were looking up terms like “negative equity” in the dictionary. After “preponderance”, of course.
4) We know literacy levels are suffering yet we don’t read between the lines of the effect this will have on future generations.
5) We aren’t prioritising the quality of our children’s education.
6) We know our children are becoming more idle and less healthy because they’re living in cyberspace rather than real space. We solve this by equipping them with iPads to lighten their school bags. Surely we should be weighing them down. Making them carry more. Giving them a bit of a workout.
7) We have blind faith in technology. (See point 1).
8) We didn’t put the bankers who caused the GFC in prison.
9) We know that gambling compromises the integrity of sport yet it’s a sure bet we won’t do anything about it. (See point 2).
10) We didn’t put the person who invented automated phone-menus in a windowless room and deny him/her of oxygen.
That is all beyond my comprehension. So Crabtree’s right - I must be stupid.
See you in the cave. It’s beautifully refurbished. And I’ve just bought the cave next door. Want to rent it out?
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