Education, the Genetic Fallacy, and the Spectrum {social media}

We’ve been saying this all along as social media has been around. The “reduced” formats for communicating has a profound negative effect on humanity and general discourse. The reaction speed is way too fast, as it leaves contemplation and sane logical reasoning in the dust…

education genetic fallacy spectrum social media - Education, the Genetic Fallacy, and the Spectrum {social media}

Education, the Genetic Fallacy, and the Spectrum {and social media}

via Rotten Chestnuts

If Adolf Hitler wrote a book about effective public speaking, wouldn’t it be wise to read it?  Teach it in class, even, since the guy obviously knew a thing or two?  If for no other reason than to help avoid being suckered in by potential Hitlers?

Or let’s say Charles Manson wrote a book about being a cult leader.  You’d think that one would be on the reading list for every Psych and Soash 101 class in America, right?  If only so those college students — probably the key cult recruiting demographics — aren’t such easy prey?

Something similar actually did happen back in the days.  History professors were mostly conservative up until about 30 years ago. They used to assign Mao’s little red book fairly regularly. The theory was that the guerrilla experience back in Mao’s salad days likely had a wide-ranging influence on his later worldview and behavior.  Of course, Hitler didn’t write that public speaking book. But selections from Mein Kampf often showed up in humanities seminars. So did selections from Lenin, Kwame Nkrumah, and the like. These guys understood something profound about the human condition, that made them effective leaders.

What reading comprehension?

Nothing like that happens today, as far as I can tell, and I spent a lot of time in a wide variety of ivy-covered halls.  Part of it, of course, is the general, catastrophic decline in reading comprehension among today’s student body. Lenin was a wonderfully effective polemicist in his day, but for the modern kid it might as well still be in Russian — but a lot of it isn’t.  A much bigger part of it is that modern kids can’t overcome the genetic fallacy. And a large part of that, I argue, is the autism spectrum-like effect of social media.

The genetic fallacy, you’ll recall, is the inability to separate the idea from the speaker. 

Or, if you’re under age 40, it’s simply “communication,” as our public discourse nowadays proceeds in very little other than genetic fallacies.  Try it for yourself.  You know what kind of reaction you’ll get in respectable circles if you say “You know, Donald Trump has a point about…” But you can do it on “our side” of the fence, too.  Watch: Obama was right about Race to the Top.  No, really: Compared to W’s No Child Left Behind bullshit, pretty much anything short of letting kids be raised by wolves would’ve been better (and hey, even being raised by wolves worked out ok for Romulus and Remus).  Even with the qualifier attached, almost everyone on “our side” instinctively bristles. Everyone has been so conditioned by the words “Obama” and “race,” especially in close proximity, that we can’t help ourselves.  Even I do it.

Zero Context

It’s especially bad for the younger generations who, as I keep arguing, have been effectively autismized (it’s a word) by social media.  Twitter, especially, is so constructed that “replies” can come in hours, days, months, years later.  Blogs too for that matter — one of the reasons we close the comments here after a few weeks is to prevent drive-by commenters clogging things up trying to re-litigate something from years ago.  Modern “communication” must take place in discrete, contextless utterances.  That being the case, understanding a statement in context is impossible — I repeat, impossible.

So Lenin (or Hitler, or Mao, or William F. Buckley, or the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man) didn’t have a point about ___; because that requires understanding how his point fit into the larger context of his thought, his times, his culture, his world.  None of that shit fits into a tweet, so we’re trained to respond to the name  — Lenin (etc.) is either a good guy or a bad guy, full stop, so anything he says about anything must be good or bad, automatically.

I hardly need to elaborate on the effect this has on our public culture.  If Our Thing really wants to get serious, the first thing any “organization,” no matter how loose, must do is: Ban social media.

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