Saturday, February 16, 2008

Dopey America: The Age of American Unreason

Dumbed-down is all around. Author and guest of Bill Moyer's Journal, Susan Jacoby says that the mess we are in politically can be traced to rampant ignorance floating around this nation. Of course you and I are the victims of 'them' because they vote.

In one part of interview with Moyers she talked about the need for presidents to be good teachers. She said, "Bill Clinton and George W. Bush are two of the biggest failures as teachers in chief of any presidents we've ever had. Bush at foreign policy obviously. It's great to bring people along with you when everybody's in favor of the war as they were in 2003 'cause there was this desire to strike back at somebody, anyone, for 9/11. So Bush just said, "Oh, yeah. Saddam Hussein had something to do with 9/11." And people believed it."

On Clinton she said, "The reason that health care reform was dead on arrival was that the American people hadn't been educated and prepared for any kind of change. Bill Clinton just announced his plan which had been developed kind of secretly, without much public participation. The health insurance industry jumped in with its Harry and Louise commercials."

On education in general in America, Jacoby states flatly, "I think our schools are doing a bad job of teaching history and science." No kidding. I have held this opinion for many, many years. Look at how many people look back at their history classes and say, 'it was so boring!' The same can be said of science, too, especially if it was taught only through a text book, void of labs or experimentation.

Moyers asked, "What does it say to you, Susan, that half of American adults believe in ghosts? Now I take these from your book. One-third believe in astrology. Three quarters believe in angels. And four-fifths believe in miracles."

Jacoby answered, "I think even more important than the fact that large numbers of Americans believe in ghosts or angels, that is part of some religious beliefs. Is the flip side is of this is that over half of Americans don't believe in evolution. And these things go together. Because what they do is they place science on a par almost with folk beliefs."

Science as 'folk beliefs.' That says something about our level of intelligence in America. Perhaps that is why the Bush Administration was recently condemned by 15,000 scientists who said that this administration had 'censored, suppressed and falsified important environmental and health research.' And the majority of Americans didn't know the difference.

Here's an important statement Jacoby said right after this that piqued my interest: "And I think-- if I may inveigh against myself, ourselves, I think the American media in particular has a lot to do with it. Because one of the things that really has gotten dumber about our culture the media constantly talks about truth as if it-- if it were always equidistant from two points. In other words, sometimes the truth is one-sided."

The media as co-conspirators in ignorance and subsequently the ruse. She chides Time magazine for perpetrating this 'truth as equidistant' in this: "...there was a huge cover story in TIME Magazine in 2002 about the rapture and end of the world scenarios. There wasn't a singular secular person quoted in it. They discussed the rapture scenario from the book of Revelation as though it was a perfectly reasonable thing for people to believe. On the one hand, these people don't believe it. On the other it's exactly like saying-- you know, "Two plus two, so-and-so says, 'two plus two equals five.' But, of course, mathematicians say that it really equals four." The mathematicians are right. The people who say that two plus two equals five are wrong. The media blurs that constantly.

The author goes on, "One out of every five Americans still believes that the sun revolves around the earth. But you shouldn't have to be an intellectual or a college graduate to know that the sun doesn't revolve around the earth. There's been a huge failure of education."

Yes there has, and it is not getting better, which is a perfect opportunity for scoundrels to offer ideas to the American public that they cannot refute. Our society has been easily duped and is an easy target for propaganda due to our cultural illiteracy. No doubt that is why it was so easy back in 2002 to convince millions of Americans and hundreds of Congressmen that Saddam Hussein was guilty of 9-11.

Who knows the answer to our dilema? How do we educate thye masses? How can we warn them that there are many scoundrels out there who wish to kidnap our nation for their own ends, for their own skewed political agenda?

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