What do you make of rising fundamentalism?

Walt Mossberg: But we have this bizarre, I think, counter-intuitive situation in which the following is happening. As I’ve already said twice, I think people now have access to more accurate, real information about the world than they have ever, ever had. You could be sitting in the middle of, you know, Siberia or, you know, Alberta or Patagonia; and if you have a computer connected to the Internet you can know a tremendous amount about what’s going on in the world. And yet at the very same time we have this rise in fundamentalism in all religions – not just Islam – in which people are rejecting science, becoming wedded to conspiracy theories instead of what’s really happening, and I think kind of retreating from the complexity all around them. You know there’s this fire hose of information out there and people . . . some people. Not everyone, but some people’s reaction is to say, “I can’t deal with it. I don’t trust it. It must not be true. I’m going back to believing these . . . whatever this guy who is my follower . . . or leader says.” It could be a religious leader, a political leader or whatever. This is what they’re believing. One aspect of that, Islamic terrorism, is especially dangerous because even though it doesn’t represent most of Islam, it is unlike most of the other fundamentalists. It’s armed. It runs some countries, and it has managed to kill a lot of people, both its own . . . both their own people and people here in our country, and elsewhere in the west. So it’s easy to conceive a situation where you get into chaotic, military, and conflict situations that could kind of put at least a temporary halt to progress in education, and technology and other things. And I worry about that.

 

Recorded on: 9/13/07

 

Fundamentalism arises from a rejection of information.

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