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Comment on Back to the 60s, back to the future, and onwards to the stars

giulio Tue, Jun 28, 2011
Interesting comment from a reader who prefers to be anonymous (or Anonymous?;-), posted with permission:

Hello Giulio;

I think that it's fresh time for a new countercultural wave much like what we had in the 60s, except this time, based in such things as rationality and scientific literacy - The trick is, how do we convince the others that it's something to be seen as better and funner than what they're up to now? On the other hand, how do we stop such positive changes from being derailed by agents who don't want it to happen, like what has happened in the past?

I think it's also important to consider the generational/cultural substrates of the mood of the nineteen sixties. I think that a lot of the antiauthoritarian/creative aspects of the 60s were made by people who weren't 'of' the 60s - I'd argue that they were people of the 40s and 50s. The 70s, you look back and see the 'Me generation' of baby boomers screwing themselves up pretty badly with sex drugs and rock and roll... Now they're the people in positions of policymaking, screwing absolutely everything else up with their lack of critical thinking skills, media literacy, and scientific literacy. I see a fair lot of that spew age junk as ridiculously unthought out, and 'established' as much as the 'establishment' was known to the hippies before they became a bunch of yuppies. I don't really think my generation of the past wasted decade of nostalgia-sucking hipstertrash is much better on the full of shit front, but I got hope for the kids of today growing up with a better culture. They're growing up in an age of choices!

I think it was the intellectuals of a generation before the boomers, that didn't grow up spending a lot of time in front of the TV, who pushed forward many positive things you're espousing here. Consider also that anti-intellectualism was also a pretty huge aspect of the culture in America of the late 60s and forwards on. It sorta seems that part wasn't a thing in Europe so much, but maybe I'm wrong? Anyways, the invention of the internet could be credited to the boomers (hahaha al gore comes to mind), but really, it was the people of that age who were separated culturally from the rest of the boomers, the (newly founded culture of, they weren't a thing before things started getting extra screwed up culturally, check an etymological history on the following words) nerds, geeks and freaks who pushed information democratization forward. Post-prohibition psychedelic culture (No longer widely socially accepted, the majority of boomers seemed to have moved on to put a lot of coke up their noses as yuppies in the wake of not being keen enough to handle acid without going nuts etc) had something to do with it, as I'm sure you know. Now, in an age of information flow democratization with the internet, the intelligent have finally gained their respect&credibility back in popular culture, and can be at the forefront of cultural change once again. Only after we get a clear picture of where we want to go with that will things start really bearing fruit. Again, I think the best course of action is one that makes salient the —fun— aspect. Nobody will want to follow it if it doesn't look like fun!

So, what can we do to make intelligence gain look more appealing? I think getting artists on board is the first step. Let things catch the eye and flow from there. I'm looking to work towards a cultural movement based on learning to love learning. Pro-autodidactic, pro-rational, pro-peer review, yet anti-academic. The public school system I went through taught everyone I know round my age to really fucking hate learning. I feel I only ended up loving learning because of being lucky enough to grow up poor enough not to be able to afford TV, but fortunate enough to live in an apartment building with internet access included in the rent & a computer too crappy to waste time playing video games. Now so many more people got internet accessibility, and on the other hand, the high school dropout rate continues to rise like mad! There's a really important gap to be filled if we don't want societies to collapse even further in a pool of dumb... I'm liking the work of things like khanacademy.org in that direction, but it's still not FUN enough. If we can make all this sort of business look as exciting as sex drugs and rock n roll did in the 60s, then I think we can go really far with it. Maybe a syncretic meld between sex, drugs, rocknroll, and the love of learning could work out, but I think the field of inspiration needs to be widened a bit if something like that is to succeed.

any thoughts?