Few things threaten the future of the human race as much as the decline of the widespread ability to read words and evaluate them rationally. This has become a culture dominated by images and emotions, which scares me because our freedom and our wealth were built on ideas and rational thinking. Not so long ago, it was considered vital for every person to be able to read coherent arguments and respond to them with intelligence and reason. Today, emotions trump reason and images trump words. When Neil Postman published “Amusing Ourselves to Death” in 1985, he made the argument that the age of television was slowly destroying Americans’ ability to reason. Postman is long dead, but it turns out that he and other academics such as Marshall McLuhan saw where things were going far before words started falling out of favor. I beg you to read Postman’s short and clear book, but if you won’t invest that much time, at least consider this article about news today. In “Could I have some news with my emotions, please?” a former NBC News executive bemoans the sad state of “emotion over information” in television news. I believe “television news” is an oxymoron, but I’ll leave that for another time.
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