Carl Sagan, noted astrophysicist, author, and celebrity scientist, wrote in his 1995 book, “The Demon-Haunted World,” what the near future would look like. Now in 2017, a passage from the book has gone viral as Sagan’s foretelling of society’s future has seemingly proven true.
Sagan’s “The Demon-Haunted World” was meant as a way to introduce the everyday person to the scientific method, and encourage skeptical and critical thinking. Sagan noted that as he wrote the book, the most rented videotape was the movie “Dumb and Dumber,” and young people’s favorite show was “Beavis and Butt-Head.” Sagan feared that the desire to learn anything would be “undesirable,” and people would celebrate ignorance.
As Sagan wrote his vision of the future, he noted that key manufacturing industries will have left America. He predicted that public represesntatives will hardly be able to grasp issues, and that people will lack the knowledge to question those in power. He also noted that the dumbing down of America will be evident in the media, who will reduce their news to quicker soundbites, and pseudoscience will be celebrated over real science.
The passage was first highlighted on Reddit by user “theDeft0nes,” and inspired thousands of comments. The post went viral on Twitter shortly after.
Parallels could be drawn between Sagan’s foretelling, and events happening today.
Celebrities and “scientists” hold the concept of “gender fluidity” as a scientifically sound concept, and promote it via song and dance numbers, despite no scientific evidence giving the concept weight.
In terms of the celebration of ignorance, Danielle Bregoli, popularly known as the unruly “cash me ousside” girl from Dr. Phil, is being given her own reality television show.
Additionally, Sagan’s words about condensed news has also come true. News outlets are moving to make news stories and videos shorter for easier consumption.
This opens up a can of worms in terms of the spread of false, or misunderstood information. A blog post on Steemit from a user named “kald” highlighted about how we consume news through social media, and how easily this quick news can fool people:
Media pages such as ‘Now This’ changed the game however, by posting hype videos they managed to get 4 BILLION interactions during the last US election. Undoubtedly, influencing the elections and pushing the younger generation to vote.
Now, you might ask why this is a bad thing. The problem here is with FAKE and FALSE information. It only takes basic video editing skills in order to create a short informative video, which carries the risk of changing ones opinion for good.
Kald noted that information from “Now This” videos have sometimes been proven to be biased to the left, or false. He also noted that the information in the “Now This” videos have been replicated by others, and millions have been introduced to these false news items.
“With an audience so young, it becomes less difficult to accept the fact that their political views can be severely obscured by these types of companies who push their own views to the masses, directly influencing the political environment,” Kald wrote.
According to the Media Insight Project, 60 percent of millennials get their news from social media. Sixty-one percent of those millennials say they get their news from Facebook, a relationship based social media site. News organizations like “Now This” primarily operate on Facebook, where friends share these videos with friends.
As Forbes noted last December, millennials prefer to get their news from friends and family, as they feel the news is coming from a “trusted friend.”
False news, combined with quick news bites makes for a very uneducated, and unequipped populace as Sagan feared.