CONGRATULATIONS ARE in order. We survived to the end of the decade! And if the people detailed in the story you're about to read have their way, it'll be one of the last decades anyone survives at all.
Look: It feels like the last ten years has been an endless onslaught by people who are so willfully-ignorant of science, so regressive and backwards, and so unimpeded by the ethics of discovery and innovation, it's a miracle we haven't ripped every last follicle out of our heads.
And yet, because we here at Futurism Dot Com are gluttons for punishment, and because we love you, our readers, we sacrificed some brain cells to round up the absolute worst of the people who did the most damage to the Earth, society, and cogent thinking, as well as those who happily trotted alongside them. Please, enjoy, and more than that: Whatever you do, don't be these people.
Seemingly more than ever in the last century, this decade saw the proliferation of people who — when faced with centuries of conclusive and decisive evidence that doesn’t quite match their worldview — still maintain that they know best. Even to dangerous ends. Spoiler: They definitely don't. Whether they're denying children medicine or writing off the horrors of gas-guzzling SUVs, this brand of moron makes the entire world worse for the rest of us.
Who: People who, per their name, believe that the Earth is flat. And will cling onto any number of associated conspiracies to deny the reality that it isn't.
Typical Talking Point: "Just look at it!"
Why They're Stupid: Because the Earth is round. Even dignifying flat-earthers has the unsurprising effect of making anyone doing so slightly dumber, and we need to be precious with all depleting resources, and our remaining brain cells are chief among them. This was the decade where, somehow, a theory that's been known as abject lunacy since the Middle Ages was main-streamed again to the point where its zealots merited a documentary and threw themselves a yearly convention/idiot party attended by people from all over the (round) world. How'd this nonsense survive to (and through) the 2010s? We can all say thanks to the modern marvel that is the internet for refusing to let it die.
Climate Change Deniers
Who: Most Republicans and conservative movements. Comically villainous fossil-fuel execs. Nihilists. People who truly hate anyone to come after them — like their children. Overcompensating men still driving F-350s as a fashion statement.
Typical Talking Point: Extremely granular, cherry-picked arguments about how the Earth has always been changing that minimize humanity's role as a driving force in that change. Also: "Well, it's December, and it's colder than ever — so global warming can't be real!"
Why They're Stupid: Annoyingly, there's a climate denier subset well-versed in science, who's capable of making arguments that sound more convincing than, say, a typical flat-earther's (remember: there's always someone dumber than you, unless you're a flat-earther). But after decades of inaction, we're constantly slapped in the face (or drowned, burned to death, starved — you get it) with undeniable evidence that humans have absolutely borked the environment. And when staying the course means the end of human civilization, the most powerful of this stripe of idiot responds by building a bunker.
Who: Parents who think Jenny McCarthy has some 'good ideas worth hearing out;' parents who got their medical degrees by looking at Facebook memes. Parents who truly do not give a shit about other people's children or the herd immunity. Basically, any parent who'd rather see their own flesh and blood die of preventable disease than see it live with an autism spectrum disorder (also see: gamblers); childless parents.
Typical Talking Points: Fear-mongering. The word "mercury." The Gospel of Jenny McCarthy.
Why They're Stupid: Maybe they're not turning the planet into an unlivable husk, but this unholy legion of Karens has still been declared one of the greatest public health threats on Earth and poised to cause an epidemic. Scientists have compared them to drunk drivers. The most frustrating thing about anti-vaxxers persisting against all odds (and especially infectious diseases) into the 2020s? The original alleged link between vaccination and autism has not only been repeatedly and thoroughly debunked, but was fraudulent from the get-go. It's not clear what, short of Darwinian evolution, will finally put this bullshit to rest.
Who: People who believe that, out of all the billions and billions of planets orbiting billions and billions of stars, a celestial being decided specifically to breathe life into ours.
Typical Talking Point: Bananas were created to fit the human hand. Monkeys in zoos don't turn into humans. Anything that gives equally annoying Reddit atheists reason to post the 😭 emoji.
Why They're Stupid: If your worldview aligns with a religion's creation story and adds meaning to your life? Great. Really. But arguments like "we can't observe evolution" have long since been proven false, and covering your ears and screaming otherwise is holding society back. And just like at Damien Thorn's birthday party, people who believe that the whole world was created for them tend to play fast and loose with it, consequences be damned.
Who: An increasingly-younger, inexplicable group of (often well-educated, upwardly-mobile) people who think creationists are ridiculous, but like creationists, also believe the cosmos aligned just to make them (and everyone else born that month) their most special selves, or that the alignment of the cosmos means their friends will finally add them to the secret group-chat-within-a-group-chat this week.
Typical Talking Point: "Come on, let's do your birth chart. You'll see."
Why They're Stupid: Maybe it's just this skeptical Virgo's brain? But it's baffling that people still believe the arrangements of miscellaneous space rocks determine whether they make dependable partners or aren't fit to be roommates, now or ever. Look, we all scroll to our sign when a "the signs as x" meme pops up on Instagram, but putting any more weight into it than that is just as wise as letting a series of coin tosses determine your life.
These folks aren't just denying scientific reality, they're actively making it up as they go and keep trying to drag the rest of us along for the ride. Unfortunately, that means that scientists and other evidence-adherents are left playing an endless game of whack-a-mole trying to stay on top of whatever half-ideas bubble out of these galaxy brains.
Who: Men who need a scapegoat for their inability to (take your pick) get laid, get a job, keep a job, go to the gym, groom themselves properly, have healthy relationships, etc. Basically: Misogynists with a persecution complex. And they wonder why they can't (take your pick) get laid, get a job, keep a job...
Typical Talking Point: Citing deceptively-framed statistics (or just straight-up bullshit) pointing to the various ways society takes it easier on women than it does men.
Why They're Stupid: We live in a world where men continue to generally be hired, promoted, and paid more than women. Where at every twist and turn, men are granted advantages again and again. But because their crush went to prom with someone else, these nerds are convinced that they're the ones being persecuted and attempt to use manipulated social science to explain it. Which puts them in concert with anyone else in a position of power, claiming to be a persecuted class when they're not. That always turns out well.
Who: A vast web of beautiful people (and Jordan Peterson) who insist that true health comes from sucking all the joy out of food.
Typical Talking Point: "[Scientifically-benign food X] is slowly draining the life from your body."
Why They're Stupid: As medical science advances, so too does our understanding of nutrition and the importance of a robust microbiome in your gut. But there's a whole lot of crap out there convoluting this understanding, created by charlatans who barely passed Biology 1 (if that). Remember, if anyone miraculously cracked the code to a perfect, rejuvenating, healthy diet, we'd already be on it. Unfortunately, "just use common sense" isn't as sexy as professionally-hot people selling us $20 bottles of juice. Look, you can't market a lifestyle around it, but if you have a functioning liver and kidneys, your body is already detoxing itself just fine.
Phrenologists and Eugenicists
Who: Gone are the days of measuring people's skulls with craniometers. Now they have face-scanning AI and DNA tests for that.
Typical Talking Point: "My facial recognition algorithm decided that your skin color means you'll be 12.37 percent less productive at work, so no, you didn't get the job."
Why They're Stupid: Phrenology first rose to prominence when dusty-ass 18th-century European scientists wanted bragging rights for having the biggest brains. That pissing contest gave rise to an insidious mechanism for enforcing racist caste systems, reassuring white ruling classes that their power was deserved. It was bullshit pseudoscience then, and it's bullshit now. Except now instead of skull shapes, modern-day startups are breathing new life into phrenology and eugenics through DNA tests that make all the same claims dressed up in futuristic lingo.
Who: Comedians stuck in the 90s. Really, anyone stuck in the 90s. J.K. Rowling.
Typical Talking Point: "Bisexual/trans/gender-fluid people are just confused!" That one "attack helicopter" joke.
Why They're Stupid: These ass-backwards bigots will deny to the grave what's become increasingly clear: the socially-constructed borders that used to define sexuality, gender, and relationship or family structures don't reflect how any of those things actually work. Gender and sexuality exist on spectrums, and it's undeniably good that these concepts are becoming mainstreamed. For those who stick their heads in the sand, clinging to outdated traditions and insisting people are making a choice in how they live out these modes, it's growing increasingly clear that the nostalgic "good ol' days" they cling to still had just as many LGBTQ+ people, who just couldn't safely live their lives.
Scream it from the rooftops: Corporations see you as a commodity, and billionaire tech titans won't love you back, no matter how many times you fawn over your new Tesla or Ring camera on Twitter. This brand of die-hard will never get the message, until they die, hard, of laughter-induced asphyxiation reading their favorite brand's Twitter clapback against a journalist exposing its shitty labor practices.
Who: Hordes of bros angrily insisting a whimsically-unhinged billionaire is humanity's best bet for survival.
Typical Talking Point: "Witness me!"
Why They're Stupid: These people mob and harass Musk's critics online. They swear that Tesla and SpaceX products are the only way to survive environmental devastation, when not otherwise breathlessly adhering to every half-assed utterance of their god. Even Elon "pedo guy" Musk doesn't take all the shit he says so seriously! It all seems to be a desperate attempt to win a ticket to Daddy Musk's Martian colony, which they see as some sort of wacky "Rick And Morty" adventure instead of a lifetime of indentured servitude working in the space mines, which is the closest they'll ever get to winning Daddy Elon's love. Pro-tip: Elon is nothing if not smart enough to have contempt for you dumbshit sheeple.
Who: People who believe bloodthirsty robots are the single, inevitable endpoint of technological progress.
Typical Talking Point: Like Zeus and the Titans, our creations will rise up and destroy us.
Why They're Stupid: Artificial intelligence is often used as a tool for evil. (See: eugenicists). But in terms of existential crises, we have bigger fish to fry. Based on current projections, climate change will bring about societal collapse way sooner than robots or AI ever could. What this cohort overlooks is that dangerous technology only exists if people keep dragging it into existence.
Transhumanists and Biohackers
Who: Impressionable megalomaniacs with disposable income.
Typical Talking Point: "Darwin only got us so far, time to take the next leap!"
Why They're Stupid: This writer sat in on a NYC biohacker meetup earlier this year. They spent much of the time vaguely talking about Bitcoin. Their favorite nootropic? Coffee. Once the world got bored of RFID chip implants, these Matrix cosplayers had nothing else to offer that wasn't also incredibly self-destructive. Problem solved?
Over the run of human civilization, we run into the same problem again and again: Those amassing obscene amounts of power are so often the last ones we wanted wielding it. From climate inaction to the vast, all-encompassing failure to keep emerging technologies and the people behind them in check, those with any amount of power to actually do any damn thing at all are sitting at the bottom of a mountain, getting steamrolled by giants they're laid prostrate in front of.
Who: The boomers from that meme. You know the one.
Typical Talking Point: What a lobbyist sock-puppets them with. Or whatever gets them re-elected.
Why They're Stupid: As our planet becomes an uninhabitable hellscape ruled by blundering fascists, our leaders are still trying to decide whether climate change is actually good. Meanwhile, the only new technology they're able to keep their finger on the pulse of is their heart rate monitors. Never forget: They gave Zuckerberg the easiest win in history, letting him get away with bombs like "Senator, we run ads."
Who: The venture capital firm responsible for making sure bad ideas never die.
Typical Talking Point: 'If at first you don't succeed, keep lighting cash on fire.'
Why They're Stupid: SoftBank stands out on this list that's otherwise focused on groups of people. But the multinational corporate conglomerate that's kept money-hemorrhaging companies afloat by waving its arms and making cash appear out of nothing deserves special mention. Uber, WeWork, companies that build pizza-delivering robots, and pretty much everything else that sounds vaguely futuristic and would send a typical person's bullshit detector into overdrive all make the cut, as far as SoftBank is concerned. And if it doesn't work out? It moves on and lives to waste money another day.
Readers Like You =]
Who: Elon Stans, Science Enthusiasts, Science Haters, our parent company, and our actual parents.
Typical Talking Point: "Wow, more Elon-hating clickbait! This is why I unsubscribed."
Why They're Stupid: Because if you opened this article at all, you probably closed out and wrote an angry Facebook comment/Slacked our publisher/texted us the 💩 emoji [Ed. Ahem DAD!] as soon as you got to the part where we gave Elon Musk the business. Get this: For centuries, society's been held back because stubbornly-held worldviews trump new discoveries and hard science. And, to be fair, if we bring children into this world, we're sure they'll be mortified by the generation currently attempting to fix things, and how absolutely regressive we are to them.
After all, Futurism's founders may have been morons who named their media company after an Italian fascist movement (good work, morons) but their guiding principle was to tell stories that help direct humanity toward a brighter future.
Truth be told: We're trying as hard as we can, and all we ask is that everyone else does their part. We didn't put our readers in the "powerful" group by mistake. Together, this decade, let's do our best, be our smartest, and direct our frustrations at the people actually making things fundamentally worse. Maybe we can even be a little kind. Doing anything less would be just straight-up dumb.