Ask A Genius 471 – Corroding Unifying Institutions (1)

In-Sight Publishing

Ask A Genius 471 – Corroding Unifying Institutions (1)

December 12, 2018

[Beginning of recorded material]

Scott Douglas Jacobsen: What will happen the short-term with these hammer blows to standard institutions like the church? How will society adapt to this?

Rick Rosner: I haven’t thought about this much before but the entire 20th century, the second half at least, functions to erode unifying institutions. Patriotism, religion, fricking Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts; from the ’60s on, there was increasing cynicism about big institutions that people had believed in or at least a century before.

That’s continued as you indicated with more and more revelations about the Catholic Church and perhaps churches in general that they may facilitate sexual abuse and other abuses. And so, the question becomes if these institutions continue to erode what replaces them and what provides an alternate glue for the social fabric.

I would suggest that the new glue is pop culture/current events literacy; that just keeping up with what’s going on occupies more and more of people’s…well; it is what was formerly occupied with institutional knowledge and in deference and attachment.

People, in general now, are attached to just keeping abreast of what’s happening, what interests other people, what’s highly ranked among other people, and what political views are held by people they respect.

Joe Haldeman, a science fiction writer; one of his novels probably written in the ’70s or the ’80s had moment-to-moment rankings of the most popular celebrities in the world and this ranking would be constantly available and it was constantly shifting.

It is not too far off from what we have with social media right now where people are particularly concerned with where Ariana Grande ranks in say the number of Twitter followers or Instagram followers versus Kylie Jenner at any given moment.

But you can look up that stuff if you want, but people are cognizant of what Kylie and Kendall are up to and what Ariane is up to and what their thoughts on stuff are or what videos, for instance, Ariana’s released, which express her thoughts about her own celebrity and other stuff.

People are occupied with keeping up with this stuff and are rewarded for keeping up with the best entertainment that society has to offer. There’s too much entertainment now. There’s too much consumable stuff.

There are too many takes on things and by being able to keep up with who has the best takes and the best entertainment, you’re able to sort through the avalanche of pop culture and pick out what you like. I guess that’s all I have on that for now.

[End of recorded material]


Rick Rosner

American Television Writer


Rick Rosner

Scott Douglas Jacobsen

Editor-in-Chief, In-Sight Publishing


In-Sight Publishing


[1] Four format points for the session article:

  1. Bold text following “Scott Douglas Jacobsen:” or “Jacobsen:” is Scott Douglas Jacobsen & non-bold text following “Rick Rosner:” or “Rosner:” is Rick Rosner.
  2. Session article conducted, transcribed, edited, formatted, and published by Scott.
  3. Footnotes & in-text citations in the interview & references after the interview.
  4. This session article has been edited for clarity and readability.

For further information on the formatting guidelines incorporated into this document, please see the following documents:

  1. American Psychological Association. (2010). Citation Guide: APA. Retrieved from
  2. Humble, A. (n.d.). Guide to Transcribing. Retrieved from

License and Copyright

In-Sight Publishing by Scott Douglas Jacobsen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
Based on a work at and


© Scott Douglas Jacobsen, Rick Rosner, and In-Sight Publishing 2012-2018. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Scott Douglas Jacobsen, Rick Rosner, and In-Sight Publishing with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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