It’s all the Baby Boomer’s fault…

Prometheus has an entry up on his blog A Photon in the Darkness that talks a little about the Age of Unreason that we appear to be living in these days in America in which he lays the blame for the rise in magical thinking at the feet of the Baby Boomers:

So, the Baby Boomers spent their twenties trying various magical means to bring about world peace and brotherly love (or just getting stoned out of their minds) and then got distracted by making a fortune in the stock market, buying loft condos and finding a way to keep from getting old.

However, the magical thinking never left them – and they’ve passed it on to succeeding generations.

I hadn’t really thought about it before, but in stopping to reflect on the above I have to admit that I agree with his assessment. Quite a few of the Baby Boomers I know tend to be afflicted with a tendency toward magical thinking. Prometheus then goes on to offer a few things he feels provides evidence of this problem from the promotion of Intelligent Design to all the Quantum Connectedness woo-woo that’s going around these days.

The whole entry is worth a read, but I particularly liked his closing statement and wanted to share it here:

Our society is growing more and more dependent on rationality, science and technology to keep it from collapsing. It’s too late to turn back, now – giving up on reason and returning to magical thinking will cause a human (and probably environmental) catastrophe that would beggar the imagination. And, at the same time, the forces of Unreason encourage us to turn our back on reality in favor of “The Secret” or other such nonsense.

The technology that most people take for granted is far beyond the knowledge of the “average” citizen – not because they can’t understand it, but because they don’t. We run a very real risk of having an increasingly smaller proportion of our population that understands how critical technologies work or – even worse – the principles behind them.

Now is the time to take a stand – to come out on the side of Reason over Unreason, of Science over Magic, of Reality over Fantasy.

Or, we can all sit and meditate on a happier future.

I hadn’t come across his blog previously, but I’ll be adding it to my blogroll soon.

9 thoughts on “It’s all the Baby Boomer’s fault…

  1. I’m not big on this type of take, because its always been done.  If you go back and read old newspapers, the base conclusion is that the preceding generation screwed the pooch and with what the next generation is doing, the world is going to hell in a handbasket.  This is simply the repeat of an old take by almost every generation. 

    More to the point though, Boomers aren’t responsible for “magical thinking.”  That too has been around for quite some time.

  2. I’m not sure I buy his assessment. His reasoning seems sound enough, but his conclusion is just too overblown. Admittedly I’m biased, as the Baby Boomers are generally my favorite generation, but I can’t bring myself to lay the blame for our current trend in unreason at their feet. Yes, the Boomers had a lot of ideas that haven’t stood the test of time, but one could say the exact same thing about the previous generation. As technology becomes more sophisticated and we learn more about the natural world, there will always be a segment of the population that resists, usually out of fear of some sort.

    More to the point though, Boomers aren’t responsible for “magical thinking.” That too has been around for quite some time.

    Spot on.

  3. Me neither, these magical issues were going to enter the ring at some point, it just happened to become a fad amongst an unusually large population group. It could have been an oppertunistic strategic move because good cult-spreaders know how the young think.

    Some of it was nonsense, but some may have done some good if it got people to think. Some certainly did abandon their ways and become hypocrites with loft condos and the stock market, but these were probably more the fad-chasers who didn’t really think on it on a deep enough level, as with most hypocrites.

    Our society is growing more and more dependent on rationality, science and technology to keep it from collapsing. It’s too late to turn back, now – giving up on reason and returning to magical thinking will cause a human (and probably environmental) catastrophe that would beggar the imagination

    There is a limit as to how bad things can get through holy wars, etc. Mankind is doomed to eventual extinction anyway so speeding it up a little will only cost a finite number of finite lives. Some things (pollution) will get better as humans die out and maybe equilibrium will be reached.

    The technology that most people take for granted is far beyond the knowledge of the “average” citizen – not because they can’t understand it, but because they don’t. We run a very real risk of having an increasingly smaller proportion of our population that understands how critical technologies work or – even worse – the principles behind them

    Being able to do something (ie drive) is more important than knowing how it works – sure it’s helpful to know but at least it’s a start to simply be able to use it. If there is really a need to use something, economics will find a way of encouragement, alternatively evolution will find a way, but really if you know how to forage for berries in the jungle, good enough, you stand a chance at surviving.

    Reason vs Unreason will never reach a conclusion because both will exist. Magic will always have a home in non-physical dimensions where science will never be able to touch it.

  4. Although I won’t weigh in on the cause of “magical thinking”, I definitely believe he has a point as far as our lack of understanding when it comes to technology. I wouldn’t argue that everyone needs to know how their car works, but when its becomes a matter of public policy and funding for new research such as stem cells, cold fusion, ad nauseum, the public’s misconceptions about the nature of the issue often prevent progress. That’s where the true danger is. A large mass of people who are unwilling to pay for the very research that might save their own ass.

  5. A large mass of people who are unwilling to pay for the very research that might save their own ass.

    I think America has more to fear from this than the rest of the Western world and that’s good for world economics.
    It’s as if the rest of the world helped finance the greed of the American tele-evangelist scammer which in turn helped dumb down America.
    All the research and therefore patents can be owned by the least delusional of earth dwellers.
    Cool.

    Every generation knows at least two things; all are smarter than their parents and wiser than their child.

  6. I agree that we’ve got big problems with irrationality, but I too doubt that the Baby Boomers (I’m one myself) are any more to blame for it than anyone else.  As far as I can tell, Prometheus’ reason for placing blame on us is that Hair was popular in the sixties.  Not compelling evidence, in my humble opinion.

  7. The Baby Boomers had all the fun in the 60’s Free love etc. When it’s our turn (those of us born during this period) they go all Neo-Con and put in Reagan and Thatcher.

    Bastards.

  8. Hey, LH- While I had a certain amount of fun in the sixties, I had even more fun in the seventies and eighties, and I’m actually still having fun.

    And I did not vote for either Reagan or Thatcher (I saw Ronnie from about ten feet away once, and his orange pancake makeup was not a pretty sight).  So there.

  9. As far as I can tell, Prometheus’ reason for placing blame on us is that Hair was popular in the sixties.  Not compelling evidence, in my humble opinion.

    Agreed. And as far as my humble opinion goes, anyone who can’t get at least some enjoyment out of Hair simply doesn’t have a pulse.

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