The Untelligence Trilogy was published during the summer of 2018. It aims to better understand how social media has spawned a different kind of thinking: one which doesn’t rely on facts, resources or critical analysis. It introduces a new vocabulary to depict what we used to call “stupid behaviour”. It is becoming rare for people to read, ask open questions, critically assess their own positions or change their minds.
Why is this and what can we do about it?
Untelligence is the ability to acquire and express ideas based on limited associations without proper information or research. Individuals who confuse anecdotes with evidence, feel intuition provides good reason and can easily dismiss internal contradictions are untelligent.
Communications technology revolutions have transformed the art of storytelling from an expression of collective narratives to personal anecdotes. As stories are emotion-laden and can tolerate inherent contradictions, untelligence can easily spread from irrational narratives. As social media allows individuals to propagate personal stories among their tribes, we can begin to better understand how untelligence has so fruitfully proliferated.
Playing on a quote from John Stuart Mill, the untelligent show a lack of introspection. Social media has created an environment where people have lost the capacity to properly ask questions or critically analyse their ideas. We seek confirmation rather than information and our search engine algorithms are designed to channel individuals into tribes that can affirm their ignorant beliefs. This blog references the Muppets (I can die in peace now) and includes an apology to pig farmers.