There's a positively vicious little piece getting a surprising amount of social media circulation right now -- surprising because it's actually two years old. Titled "Age of Ignorance," the piece is a scathing polemic written by Charles Simic for the New York Review of Books, one that takes on the ascendency of ignorance and stupidity within our culture and the role that mass and democratized media and a feckless press have played in it.
You should definitely read the whole thing, but here's the salient quote:
In the past, if someone knew nothing and talked nonsense, no one paid any attention to him. No more. Now such people are courted and flattered by conservative politicians and ideologues as “Real Americans” defending their country against big government and educated liberal elites. The press interviews them and reports their opinions seriously without pointing out the imbecility of what they believe. The hucksters, who manipulate them for the powerful financial interests, know that they can be made to believe anything, because, to the ignorant and the bigoted, lies always sound better than truth.
I have no idea what specific event might have led to the resurrection of this strongly worded indictment of Our Stupid Nation, but I like to think it had something to do with the release of the first trailer for a new documentary which asserts that the Earth, having been created and deemed special by God, is the actual center of the solar system -- that the sun and all the other planets revolve around us. Before you even say it, yes, the idea of a geocentric universe was put to rest by Copernicus, Kepler and Galileo around the late 16th century. In other words, we've known our system revolves around the sun for more than 400 years. But I suppose when there are still people who take the pronouncements of a 2,000-year-old book word-for-word seriously and who think the Earth and the universe are 6,000 years old, a belief in any kind of nonsense is possible.
The Principle is narrated by Star Trek: Voyager's Kate Mulgrew and features well-respected theoretical physicists like Michio Kaku, Lawrence Krauss and Max Tegmark, all of whom seem to be alluding to the idea that it's an exciting time in cosmology because something big is afoot. What none of them say, however, is that everything we know about the universe is flat wrong. That statement is left to the man who helped bankroll this intellectual abortion, ultra-fundamentalist Catholic Robert Sungenis, who among other delightful qualities is a Holocaust-denier and an overall anti-Semite who says the Jews have made a pact with Satan to control the world. His blog is called "Galileo Was Wrong" and in the trailer for The Principle he makes it clear that he believes geocentrism is still a legitimate school of thought -- again, because God made us special.
Now, as the Charles Simic piece says, years ago a guy like Sungenis would've been laughed off the planet he believes is the center of the cosmos. No one would've paid a whit of attention to him because even among Christians he'd be considered a raving lunatic. But make no mistake: Simply because he had the money and resources to make a legitimate-sounding documentary full of real scientists -- and one actor from Star Trek -- and he has the social media influence to promote it, there are gonna be people who at worst buy into this horseshit or at best simply consider it a "theory that's out there" and a potentially viable one. And merely by virtue of the debate, it'll be given legitimacy in some circles. No matter how completely fucking crazy it is.
Because this is the new world. This is God's special planet. Of course we're the center of the universe -- everything can't help but be drawn to us by the giant vacuum between our culture's collective ears.
(via Raw Story)