Finally got off my butt and set up a Google Group to function as an announce-only mailing list for my upcoming book "The Pop Psychology of Programming". You can go sign up here (to my amusement, cutting and pasting a Google Groups signup box here in Blogger just produces glitchy non-functionality). I've been working with renewed vigor since viewing the movie "2012" since, obviously, I want to get this thing done before the world ends. Who even knew that neutrinos could mutate? The ancient Mayans, apparently.
This belief that someone else knows/knew a whole lot more than us is, I think, sometimes a way of relieving cognitive dissonance that arises when we ponder miraculous-looking accomplishments we can't understand. (Hmmm, either those folks know a lot more than me, or else -- maybe aliens did it!) The latter, of course, is exactly what some people believe firmly: there's no way humans could have come up with transistors and computers, it is more plausible that we simply gleaned that technology from downed alien spacecraft that now reside in Area 51.
Having grimly ground out my EE degree in college, I could tell these folks that there is extremely detailed and well-dated documentation on how all those technologies have evolved. There are no remarkably enormous leaps of intellect in this history, just determined grinding away at one problem at a time, with innumerable contributions from the serendipity that occurs in all our lives with some frequency.
Sadly, folks who believe we aren't smart enough to have invented computers have no interest in looking at this history. We live in a time where the very accessibility of information makes information more ignored than ever. All manner of detailed technological information is online, but most people would rather debate talking points hatched by political operatives than go spend hours studying, say, the chemistry of climate change or the mechanics of cancer that ensure earlier detection increases the harm done via increased unnecessary treatments.
On gloomy days, I suspect this is the limiting factor that keeps the human race from surviving en masse too much longer: genetic evolution can't move fast enough to help us survive the problems we are creating for ourselves. Darwin was emphatic in his belief that our hope lie in a moral evolution, that would operate via education, religion, culture, etc. Too be charitable, that viewpoint continues to look a bit iffy. Despite my natural pessimism, however, the book will argue that programmers may have a role in tipping the balance in favor of human survival.