The New Dark Ages

When I was growing up in a slum in Israel, I devoutly believed that knowledge and education will set me free and catapult me from my miserable circumstances into a glamorous world of happy learning. But now, as an adult, I find myself in an alien universe where functional literacy is non-existent even in developed countries, where "culture" means merely sports and music, where science is decried as evil and feared by increasingly hostile and aggressive masses, and where irrationality in all its forms (religiosity, the occult, conspiracy theories) flourishes.

The few real scholars and intellectuals left are on the retreat, back into the ivory towers of a century ago. Increasingly, their place is taken by self-taught "experts", narcissistic bloggers, wannabe "authors" and "auteurs", and partisan promoters of (often self-beneficial) "causes".

Dismal results ensue: the Wikipedia "encyclopedia" is "edited" by anonymous users with unlimited access to its contents and no credentials; fads like environmentalism and alternative "medicine" spread malignantly and seek to silence dissidents, sometimes by violent means; the fare served by the media now consists exclusively of soap operas and reality TV shows; Reading is on terminal decline; with few exceptions, the "new media" are a hodgepodge of sectarian view and fabricated "news"; the few credible sources of reliable information have long been drowned in a cacophony of fakes and phonies.

It is a sad mockery of the idea of progress. The more texts we make available online, the more research is published, the more books are written - the less educated people are, the more they rely on visuals and sounds rather than the written word, the more they seek to escape and be anesthetized rather than be challenged and provoked.

Even the ever-sliming minority who do wish to be enlightened are inundated by a suffocating and unmanageable avalanche of indiscriminate data, comprised of both real and pseudo-science. There is no way to tell the two apart, so a "democracy of knowledge" reins where everyone is equally qualified and everything goes and is equally merited. This relativism is dooming the twenty-first century to become the beginning of a new "Dark Age", hopefully a mere interregnum between two periods of genuine enlightenment.

The New Dark Ages 9.1 of 10 on the basis of 1074 Review.