When historians look back at the beginning of the 20th century, when all of us now living have long been dead, they’ll, I think, describe it as the ‘Age of Dilettantism’. And they’ll do it because our age relies on half facts and internet assembled philosophies and the Dreck of that dreadful monstrosity and bastardization of knowledge called Wikipedia. Or, as NPR puts it more gently:
According to columnist Rex Huppke, there was a recent death that you might have missed. It wasn’t an actor, musician or famous politician, but facts. In a piece for the Chicago Tribune, Huppke says facts – things we know to be true – are now dead. Huppke says the final blow came on Wednesday, April 18, when Republican Rep. Allen West of Florida declared that about 80 members of the Democratic Party in Congress are members of the Communist Party. “That was the death-blow for facts,” Huppke tells weekends on All Things Considered host Guy Raz.
Politicians no longer care about facts. Professors seldom now rely on facts (driven most often by ideology instead). Students no longer care about facts- they’re happy to crop and paste from Wikipedia and call it research. And the ‘average Joe’ already knows (or thinks he does) what the facts are. His mind is made up and no mere fact will get in the way of that.
That is our age, the age of dilettantism.
“[Facts are] survived by rumor and innuendo, two brothers, and then a sister, emphatic assertion,” he says. “They’re all grieving right now, but we wish the best for them.”