As a measure of the degeneration of our public discourse, all you have to do is turn on your TV, and you’ll find a whole sequence of corrupted discussion. It’s not just Fox News; the people who credulously watch Fox may also find themselves primed by the so-called “educational” stations, the ones people watch because they’re supposed to make learning interesting by explaining stuff that people are already curious about. Somewhere along the line, though, the television programmers realized that you can just drop the difficult “education” part and skip right from “curiosity” to “spectacularly batshit looney-tunes stories from grossly unqualified (that is, cheap) sources”. Take The History Channel, please.
I don’t know if you knew, but the Hebrews didn’t spend forty years in the Sinai after the Exodus because they’d incurred the wrath of God. And they didn’t leave that desert because the offending generation had died off. The chosen people were forced into the Promised Land because the algae-based-protein-bar machine that dispensed the “manna from heaven” they’d been eating finally broke down.
“Of course, [the machine] needed energy, for cultivating the algae, and this was produced, we postulate, by a small nuclear reactor,” says Rodney Dale, a wild-eyed madman.
This is the History Channel, circa 2009. “But,” asks the narrator, “If the Israelites’ survival depended upon the manna machine, where did they get it? Some believe they had stolen it from the Egyptians prior to their exodus. Other suspect extraterrestrials gave it to them as a humanitarian gesture to prevent their starvation in the desert.” The show is “Ancient Aliens,” and it’s everything that’s wrong in America.
I haven’t watched it in years, since it gave up on History and decided that people driving trucks or others buying crap at auctions was more interesting, i.e. profitable. It seems to be oscillating between the mundane, like pawn shops, and absurd bullshit, like aliens building portals in the Southwest desert. The only thing worse than an occasional television show with unbelievable claims is to actually attend a conference by these true believers — I’ve gone to the Paradigm Symposium twice now (and never again), and you discover very quickly that sensational, exaggerated claims without plausible evidence are deeply boring. That’s happened to the History Channel, too — it’s boring, and they try to reinvigorate it by making more and more ridiculous claims. It doesn’t work.