A cogent article, Pamela. The problem is that we’ve got brains that evolved under very different conditions from those we live under today. Our brains are hardwired for certain predispositions and rational thinking isn’t one of them, because there was little need for such a capability during 95% of our evolutionary history. As an extremely complex organ resulting from the interacting effects of thousands of different genes, evolution works very slowly when it comes to altering brain structure. Thus we’re prisoners of heuristics that have little or no value today.
As such, it’s only to be expected that (i) the vast majority of people will be incapable of complex thought and therefore seek simplistic solutions to life’s problems, (ii) will conform to whatever group norms are established, and therefore (iii) will seek to punish all those who don’t appear to be conforming sufficiently. This is because it was highly adaptive to ensure group continuity for most of our evolutionary history. Hence we get groupthink and low-quality outcomes.
Sadly the lesson we ought to learn from today’s media-induced mass hysteria will remain unlearned, and we will continue to sleepwalk through existence, blundering into one unnecessary quagmire after another. I wish I could be more optimistic but history is very clear on one thing: we never learn anything from our experiences.