Thursday, August 04, 2011

The Discussion in the Lunchroom

I work in an office with a large number of people. Several of those people often take their daily lunch break in our common lunch room.

Most times, I ignore the usual lunchroom chats like the plague. To me, my lunch hour is a sacred thing. It's the one hour a day I have during the work week when I can totally unplug my brain from my work environment. For our lunch period, we are completely free from the constrictions of work.

So my usual routine, once I have consumed my lunch (which usually takes less than 20 minutes), is to find a comfortable chair in the corner of the lunch room, plug in my headphones, find a good classical music channel, and bury my nose in a book. And when I say bury myself, I mean it. The entire building could fall down around me when I read and I doubt I would notice.

Occasionally, however--usually if I'm reading a boring book, or at least a boring section of a book--I take notice of the conversation around me. And I sometimes listen in, and contribute the occasional nugget of wisdom. I don't participate very often, since in order to dumb myself down to the usual level of discussion therein I'd have to hit myself on the head with a hammer 10-15 times.

(If at this point you haven't yet figured out that I'm a conceited SOB, you haven't read enough of this blog.)

This brings me, in my usual roundabout way, to my point: The discussion on the day in question veered into the topic of the Creation Museum.

This museum--which is located only a few hours drive from me, by the way--is dedicated to proving to all visitors the truth of the Creation story, as provided in the book of Genesis. This, despite reams upon reams upon reams of scientific data that has been collected to contradict it.

The fact that this museum exists, only a few hours' drive from my house, is not the scary part. No, the scary part is this: This museum has hosted over 1 million visitors since it opened. And this flow of visitors shows no signs of slowing.

This leads me to one inescapable conclusion:

We are getting dumber.

Over the course of history, each subsequent generation of humans has surpassed its predecessors in terms of intelligence. Until a few years ago. That's when this trend reversed itself.

I think it started when George W. Bush was elected President. This man was the poster child for how an unqualified underachiever could achieve position far beyond what he was qualified for. And it inspired everyone else in the country to believe that they could do the same.

I'm not saying this has never happened before. History is filled with examples of people achieving postitions they weren't possibly qualified to hold. The difference between then and now was that most of the time those people went no farther. They were shamed out of their positions.

This doesn't happen today. Today, people who are underqualified for the positions they hold are propped up by various means until they believe they ARE qualified. This happens in all walks of life, from celebrities, to politicians, to corporate executives, to religious leaders.

If you have any doubts about the dumbing down of humanity, I invite you to watch an Episode of Jersey Shore.

And watch how its audience continues to grow from year to year.

We used to publicly ridicule people who regularly demonstrated how stupid they were. Nowadays, they get their own TV reality shows.

Progress? I have serious doubts.

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