Oi..... Is it just me, or does the intelligence of the general population seem to be declining?
Actually, what we measure as intelligence has been increasing ever since we began measuring it. The relative score of a "100" on I.Q. tests has been moving upward steadily to keep it at the actual population mean. A person that rates a "100" now would have been scored much higher back when the test was first devised.
There will always be wackos, and the internet serves to make the educated public more aware of them, and gives them more of an ability to find each other and seem numerous, and there is a genuine need to respond in a rational and measured way when it seems like they are actually managing to subvert the truth, but don't mistake that for some kind of social doom. If there's anything that encourages otherwise median-intelligent people to give up rational thought and embrace ridiculous crap, it's the perception (and despair) that the world is too complicated and dangerous and doomed, or that the people with the reality-based ideas are hostile egg-heads. Crap-based thinking is appealing because it simplifies everything and gives creedence to emotional "reasoning".
That doesn't mean that, in the long run, reality-based thinking isn't winning out...reactionary, panicky crap-based thinkers by and large are only addressing about 1% of the ever-improving scientific knowledge that permeates our modern awareness so thoroughly that we don't even realize it. Generally, they attack very cutting-edge stuff that it's hard to demonstrate or explain simply because it's new, or absurd traditional conflicts that aren't convincing to anyone that wasn't already firmly in the wacko-camp. They really can't fight the engineering, physics, chemistry, electronics, biology, or genetics that are just accepted as fact. For example, I have a cousin who will talk himself blue about how creationism is "The Truth" and no one can make him think otherwise, but he still accepts as fact, completely unconsciously, that him and his wife both having blue eyes means that their children will never have brown eyes. Only the real hard-core evolution deniers bother to create models that refute the basic, easily understood underpinnings of evolution (like division of life into kingdoms, phyla, classes, orders, families, genuses, and species) and their models are often more convoluted and harder to understand than the reality-based model. Their camp will tout them because they agree with the conclusion, but ultimately they will fail to stick because 1. they will only ever need to get more complicated as more evidence to the contrary emerges, and 2. the people that find them convincing are there fundamentally to reject
This is probably way more than I should have word-hosed at you over what was largely rhetorical, but the only thing I really worry about in the argument between science and crap is people deciding there's no point in trying to make a difference.