Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Our Children are the (Clueless) Future

Aside from some outstanding UFO reports offered up in, particularly, the seventies, the "old" National Enquirer could be pretty novel and sometimes adept about forecasting things to come.

Across the nation public schools often fail to educate, and children fail to learn, either with or without "legally" prescribed or illegally acquired drugs intended to put their minds on temporary life support.  Meanwhile, Obama's fellow fascist wannabes at the Dept. of Education continue to push "Common Core," holding state funding for ransom as teachers are forced to submit or perish professionally, hating every minute of the federal usurpation strangling their classroom hours with some bizarre leftist agenda which is no friend to the educational system in the USA.

But, hey, at least we have the computer to inform, educate and allow every human kid to push buttons and administer mouse clicks on the road to success.  Unless -- could this digital miracle be our undoing? 
Yes, according to prognosticators of that ancient year, 1980.

The National Enquirer of April 29, 1980 enlisted the views of several professional educators regarding the burgeoning computer era, and what was their consensus of thought 34 years ago?  Beware.

The late Dr. Max Rafferty, whom we've quoted on previous occasions, put it bluntly:  "The human brain is endangered. Our powers of thought and creativity could shrivel up through sheer mental laziness if we allow our own machines to dominate us further."   Was Rafferty correct?  Just take a gander at high school students with zero ability for critical thinking.

Education professor Dr. Gerald Boardman at the University of Nebraska warned, "We may be producing a generation who views math as simply a process of pushing buttons on a little black box."

Dr. James Shields, Jr.,  professor of education at the City University of New York believed we would end up as a nation of "intellectual cripples" as we turn to machines to make decisions for us, giving up our own human intuition as computers tell us what to do. Even back in 1980, Shields realized and warned that people in executive positions were becoming fearful of making decisions on their own, preferring instead to put their faith in the electronic digital judge.  "We must guard against this," he continues, "or we'll end up as a bunch of simpleminded zombies."

We suspect, Dr. Shields, that many of us have become simpleminded zombies -- even TV shows honor the zombie now.  Why not?  Zombies don't need math classes, they invent nothing and they get all the brainpower they desire merely by eating the brains -- or make that intellectual property -- of others.  We've gone from bite to byte and back to bite in just a few years.  Which came first, the chicken or the egg?  Which came first, the computer or the digital zombie?

Then, four years later, this from a Chicago Tribune article in late July, 1984:  "Mankind Evolving Backward, Theorist Says."  Biochemist Allan Wilson, of the University of California at Berkeley, speaking at a symposium in Maine, asserts, "I'm afraid we've reached a plateau and that Homo Sapiens is in a nose dive."  Wilson believed that our abilities to invent and adapt using our own ingenuity instead of awaiting the agonizingly slow process of natural selection and genetic evolution has put us on the fast track to waving goodbye as a species. 

Having taken about 400 million years for brains to become their largest -- in humans -- Wilson concedes ". . .the size of the human brain stopped increasing about 30,000 years ago, primarily because of 'cultural' behavior. . ."  He, along with other scientists, accepts that brain growth occurs because of a need to gather information about coping with the environment, and the pure need for innovation caused an expansion of the human brain.  Alas, according to the article, humans eventually learned to imitate the behavior of others rather than innovate -- thus providing no reason for the brain to grow larger.

If you bet all your money on Pac-Man, Pac-Man is all you're going to get.  Education in days of old at least taught subjects one could use as a backup plan in case of something unanticipated.  Pixels, on the other hand, are one-trick ponies of momentary pleasure.

Taken together, the warnings in these two old articles don't bode well for Our Wonderful Age of Computers, and we won't even bother to comment further on the status of human brains currently.  But just look around, from the White House to Congress, to the Supreme Court, to TV, to hand-held devices, down to a measured flow in the fetid undercurrents of national, state and local political sewers.