Adam Smith was wrong. Perhaps the thought was born of a long day experimenting with substances of questionable legality. The thought which single handedly gave raise to modern economics as we know it. Perhaps dear Mr. Smith was overcome by a sudden and overpowering idealistic fervour when he said, "Humans are rational beings". That was quite a grand statement. Though deep down every one of his peers knew that reality was to the contrary, accepting that humans were rational was quite flattering. We were after all at the pinnacle of evolution able to mould the environment to suit our needs. It was only rational to state that humans, as a species, were rational beings. As it spread, word became common sense, common sense became fact and fact became collective wisdom. And thus began the downward spiral.
One could attribute that stumble to the timing. During the days of Mr. Smith, the world was a much smaller place. The people moved in their own circles and perhaps Mr. Smith moved in circles in which a strict rigour of language was imposed on any discussion. Perhaps the wisdom of the day was that if you didn't have anything smart to say, you said nothing at all. This could have contributed to the delusion of rationality among humans. Had dear Mr. Smith lived to see the day when the world of people exploded to include the whole globe, the day on which dawned the Great Leveler, the day foreshadowed by the arrival of the Eternal September, would things have been different? Would the great thinker have received a shot of sobering reality to quell his idealistic fervour? We might never know. But we all were present on that day. The day the internet arrived.
The internet has had a strange effect on all of humanity. It and it alone has the uncanny ability to bring the idiots of this world out of the woodwork. Perhaps this is due to the inherent anonymity of the internet. Perhaps this is due to the enormous ego kick received by having your thoughts read by potentially millions. Even though all these are important factors, I believe the main cause for the sheer concentration of idiots on the net is because of a lack of a facility to name and shame stupidity. In the real world, if a person exhibits acute stupidity and thick-headedness, the word spreads and fast. Their name is instantly associated with stupidity and hence, their words ignored. But what is a name on the internet? Names can be changed to anything we choose in an instant and hence completely hide our stupidity under a new name.
Though in the real world the idiots are relegated to the margins, on the internet, theirs' is the loudest voice. The voice that drowns out all semblance of intellect. As in the case of religious nut-jobs. I'm sure every religion out there has their fair share of nut-jobs, but on the internet, it is their voices that are the most frequent and prominent giving all religions a bad name. Visit any forum, any comment thread, any chat room and it is stupidity that prevails. If you don't believe me, visit YouTube, that ever-growing font of human stupidity. They are drawn to it like demented moths to a flame. After all this, I must admit. I have been guilty of gross stupidity on the internet. But I, like perhaps you too, can rest assured. We are not alone. There are bigger and louder idiots out there.