Human beings aren’t computers. We calculate slowly. Our memories are fallible. Our brains struggle to work with anything over a few variables at the same time without having to use external aids (pieces of paper, calculator, spreadsheet etc).

More and more, as technology roots deeper into our societies, these shortcomings are creating new criteria for successfully coping with the day to day test of everyday life. For most, the technology-driven changes to the socioeconomic landscape have built so fast, their old-fashioned education is exposed as useless.

Everyone learned basic arithmetic but maths that’s actually useful is beyond the national curriculum. Everyone learned basic literacy but linguistics – the toolset we’d need to make sense of the vast information ocean.

What we’re left with, then, is the great majority of confused people who don’t know how anything works, in a recurring loop of info overload where it’s impossible to find the wood for the trees. What’s more, the info overload is cleverly woven with all manner of propaganda, craftily signposted to turn people’s confusion into confirmation bias.

Lacking any decent training in linguistics, psychology or deconstruction analysis, the public is intellectual cannon fodder. It doesn’t take a social scientist to perceive these problems are growing more extreme. Polarisation in politics, extremism, fundamentalism, all collateral inevitability in a population adrift.

What we’re also seeing of late is the appeal of populism – easy certainties, scapegoats, emphasis on ingroup versus outgroup thinking. It’s a shortcut through the bewildering chaos of a world gone ‘too far’ with promises of a return to simpler times, taking back control and building walls around particular group identities. If you want in on this firm, unconfused footing all you need do is join; and stay loyal. If alarm bells aren’t ringing by now, they should be.


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