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Sun Mar 25, 2012, 11:23 AM

We are truly in an "Age of Ignorance"

Widespread ignorance bordering on idiocy is our new national goal. It’s no use pretending otherwise and telling us, as Thomas Friedman did in the Times a few days ago, that educated people are the nation’s most valuable resources. Sure, they are, but do we still want them? It doesn’t look to me as if we do. The ideal citizen of a politically corrupt state, such as the one we now have, is a gullible dolt unable to tell truth from bullshit.

An educated, well-informed population, the kind that a functioning democracy requires, would be difficult to lie to, and could not be led by the nose by the various vested interests running amok in this country. Most of our politicians and their political advisers and lobbyists would find themselves unemployed, and so would the gasbags who pass themselves off as our opinion makers. Luckily for them, nothing so catastrophic, even though perfectly well-deserved and widely-welcome, has a remote chance of occurring any time soon. For starters, there’s more money to be made from the ignorant than the enlightened, and deceiving Americans is one of the few growing home industries we still have in this country. A truly educated populace would be bad, both for politicians and for business.

--snip--

In the past, if someone knew nothing and talked nonsense, no one paid any attention to him. No more. Now such people are courted and flattered by conservative politicians and ideologues as “Real Americans” defending their country against big government and educated liberal elites. The press interviews them and reports their opinions seriously without pointing out the imbecility of what they believe. The hucksters, who manipulate them for the powerful financial interests, know that they can be made to believe anything, because, to the ignorant and the bigoted, lies always sound better than truth:

Christians are persecuted in this country.
The government is coming to get your guns.
Obama is a Muslim.
Global Warming is a hoax.
The president is forcing open homosexuality on the military.
Schools push a left-wing agenda.
Social Security is an entitlement, no different from welfare.
Obama hates white people.
The life on earth is 10,000 years old and so is the universe.
The safety net contributes to poverty.
The government is taking money from you and giving it to sex-crazed college women to pay for their birth control.


One could easily list many more such commonplace delusions believed by Americans. They are kept in circulation by hundreds of right-wing political and religious media outlets whose function is to fabricate an alternate reality for their viewers and their listeners. “Stupidity is sometimes the greatest of historical forces,” Sidney Hook said once. No doubt. What we have in this country is the rebellion of dull minds against the intellect. That’s why they love politicians who rail against teachers indoctrinating children against their parents’ values and resent the ones who show ability to think seriously and independently. Despite their bravado, these fools can always be counted on to vote against their self-interest. And that, as far as I’m concerned, is why millions are being spent to keep my fellow citizens ignorant.

http://www.nybooks.com/blogs/nyrblog/2012/mar/20/age-of-ignorance/


74 replies, 10397 views

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Arrow 74 replies Author Time Post
Reply We are truly in an "Age of Ignorance" (Original post)
cleanhippie Mar 2012 OP
russspeakeasy Mar 2012 #1
cleanhippie Mar 2012 #2
jwirr Mar 2012 #3
Blue_Tires Mar 2012 #63
Carolina Mar 2012 #4
cleanhippie Mar 2012 #6
BiggJawn Mar 2012 #25
corkhead Mar 2012 #51
BiggJawn Mar 2012 #58
Whiskeytide Mar 2012 #68
tblue37 Mar 2012 #30
iemitsu Mar 2012 #34
Moostache Mar 2012 #5
cleanhippie Mar 2012 #8
left coaster Mar 2012 #12
BiggJawn Mar 2012 #26
Bainbridge Bear Mar 2012 #45
mazzarro Mar 2012 #59
SammyWinstonJack Mar 2012 #67
KG Mar 2012 #7
LibDemAlways Mar 2012 #9
hunter Mar 2012 #10
wavesofeuphoria Mar 2012 #11
hunter Mar 2012 #22
polichick Mar 2012 #54
bluedigger Mar 2012 #13
niyad Mar 2012 #14
xtraxritical Mar 2012 #15
Surya Gayatri Mar 2012 #49
xtraxritical Mar 2012 #66
TrogL Mar 2012 #70
lunatica Mar 2012 #16
krispos42 Mar 2012 #17
KG Mar 2012 #18
gulliver Mar 2012 #19
Katashi_itto Mar 2012 #20
TatonkaJames Mar 2012 #21
azul Mar 2012 #28
Arugula Latte Mar 2012 #23
cleanhippie Mar 2012 #27
hifiguy Mar 2012 #64
arely staircase Mar 2012 #24
Cobalt-60 Mar 2012 #72
Plucketeer Mar 2012 #29
got root Mar 2012 #31
socialindependocrat Mar 2012 #32
colsohlibgal Mar 2012 #33
meanit Mar 2012 #39
Major Hogwash Mar 2012 #35
EFerrari Mar 2012 #36
LibDemAlways Mar 2012 #40
RZM Mar 2012 #37
cleanhippie Mar 2012 #38
iemitsu Mar 2012 #46
chervilant Mar 2012 #50
cleanhippie Mar 2012 #61
livingonearth Mar 2012 #41
FredStembottom Mar 2012 #42
Skittles Mar 2012 #43
ProSense Mar 2012 #44
Initech Mar 2012 #47
just1voice Mar 2012 #48
Manifestor_of_Light Mar 2012 #69
chervilant Mar 2012 #52
hifiguy Mar 2012 #65
chervilant Mar 2012 #71
polichick Mar 2012 #53
mathematic Mar 2012 #55
es466 Mar 2012 #56
Javaman Mar 2012 #57
sinkingfeeling Mar 2012 #60
Junkdrawer Mar 2012 #62
awoke_in_2003 Mar 2012 #73
Domingo Tavella Mar 2012 #74

Response to cleanhippie (Original post)

Sun Mar 25, 2012, 11:26 AM

1. The best post I have read in a week...Thanks cleanhippie.

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Response to russspeakeasy (Reply #1)

Sun Mar 25, 2012, 11:33 AM

2. Your welcome.

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Response to cleanhippie (Original post)

Sun Mar 25, 2012, 12:05 PM

3. Worse than the Dark Ages because it does not have to be this way. We know better.

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Response to jwirr (Reply #3)

Mon Mar 26, 2012, 10:35 AM

63. yeah, I've remarked more than a few times the irony

of so much growing willful ignorance in our so-called "information age"

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Response to cleanhippie (Original post)

Sun Mar 25, 2012, 12:14 PM

4. excellent post

but we also have the educated, highly educated as in doctors, veterinarians, lawyers, teachers (!)) who buy the lies, too.

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Response to Carolina (Reply #4)

Sun Mar 25, 2012, 12:19 PM

6. One could argue that based on that, education does not always correlate to intelligence.

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Response to Carolina (Reply #4)

Sun Mar 25, 2012, 01:26 PM

25. My GF's doctor is RW.

He told her that his malpractice insurance was $25,000 a year and that Single-Payer and "Obamacare" (his words) would mean he wouldn't be making enough money to afford it. (And his nice house, Mercedes-Benz, Caribbean vacations, etc...)

Went to OpenSecrets a while ago. The numbers of the area's prominent medical people who donate to ReTHUGlicans was eye-opening. So was the number of Lawyers who gave to the DNC.

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Response to BiggJawn (Reply #25)

Mon Mar 26, 2012, 06:58 AM

51. A wouldn't be surprised if a significant percentage of doctors got into the business for the money

which would make them model republicons.

Also, it seems from my experience that many of them are in a state of arrested development as far as their personalities go. My theory is that they were too busy with their noses in books in college to develop social skills.

I am not saying they are all this way, I am just throwing a theory out there about why so many would support the party of the greedy.

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Response to corkhead (Reply #51)

Mon Mar 26, 2012, 08:44 AM

58. Yeah, that "Bedside Manner" is sorely lacking in a lot of them...

I've known some who were brilliant doctors, but social um, "misfits"? (don't say the ARRR word!)

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Response to BiggJawn (Reply #25)

Mon Mar 26, 2012, 12:57 PM

68. Most smart lawyers are democrats...

... or at least vote democrat. Republicans favor business interests which favor tort reform which favors keeping people out of court which results in less business for lawyers. Even most of my defense lawyer friends have seen the light.

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Response to Carolina (Reply #4)

Sun Mar 25, 2012, 03:04 PM

30. Being highly educated in a field of specialty is not the same as

having a good general education or an ability to reason well. Extreme specialization in any field requires a good memory, a lot of practice, and a cerrtain amount of self-discipline (to stick with the necessary study and practice for years), but it does not require wide-ranging knowledge or the ability to think clearly, logically, or independently.

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Response to Carolina (Reply #4)

Sun Mar 25, 2012, 03:25 PM

34. i agree with you carolina

and blame it on what professions call "specialization".
i call it compartmentalization.
i remember when, as a graduate student, i had the opportunity to spend some social time with professors i admired. i thought they were the best informed and smartest folk i had encountered until i brought up subjects that they had not specialized in. i was surprised at how much of what i considered to be common knowledge, they had not incorporated into their world views.

edited to add: yes tblue37. you said it much better than i.

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Response to cleanhippie (Original post)

Sun Mar 25, 2012, 12:16 PM

5. The owners of this country do not want educated citizens, period.

The more educated - or even just self-aware - you are, the less likely you are to believe their bullshit...

What is stunning to me are the fundamentalist fools who keep on being single-issue abortion voters even though when Bush held the White House AND the Congress, and had a real chance to do something about the issue for "the base", the only thing he did was cut taxes and hand out barrels of cash to his pals...

These people not only vote against their interests, they behave like battered wives and DEFEND the bastards who are brutalizing them on top of it all.

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Response to Moostache (Reply #5)

Sun Mar 25, 2012, 12:20 PM

8. "they behave like battered wives and DEFEND the bastards who are brutalizing them"

Exactly. And do you think that such behavior would indicate a sort of mental illness?

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Response to cleanhippie (Reply #8)

Sun Mar 25, 2012, 12:34 PM

12. Yep. a kind of Stockholm Syndrome en masse. nt

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Response to Moostache (Reply #5)

Sun Mar 25, 2012, 01:31 PM

26. And they're always hungry for an "Other" to hate.

Wasn't too noticeable when the Soviet Union was open for business, but now with no other "Others" than their fellow Murikans...

It's easy to get such Authoritarian sheep riled up and lining up at the recruitment office for your next Holy War someplace.

It's why we have such brainstorms as Arne Duncan, NCLB, and "Teaching the TEST", and the Cult of the Zygote. They're all so careful for you until you're born, then they don't want to know you until you're military age.

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Response to Moostache (Reply #5)

Sun Mar 25, 2012, 09:04 PM

45. Remember that Santorum exemplified this idiocy

 

when he chastised Obama for wanting Americans to pursue a college education by calling him a "snob". Stupid is the New Normal.

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Response to Moostache (Reply #5)

Mon Mar 26, 2012, 09:42 AM

59. You are forgetting that the leaders of these groups

are not part of the corporacracy that benefits from the right-wing politicians giveaway of the treasury every time the rePIGlicans gain control of the government.

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Response to Moostache (Reply #5)

Mon Mar 26, 2012, 12:49 PM

67. Exactly!

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Response to cleanhippie (Original post)

Sun Mar 25, 2012, 12:19 PM

7. rec.

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Response to cleanhippie (Original post)

Sun Mar 25, 2012, 12:25 PM

9. If people wised up in sufficient numbers, there would no longer be

a Republican Party - and the elite can't have that. Excellent post.

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Response to cleanhippie (Original post)

Sun Mar 25, 2012, 12:30 PM

10. Reading the comments on the article is depressing.

Professor Simac hit a nerve.

Many of the comments, both for and against, fully support his assertion.

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Response to cleanhippie (Original post)

Sun Mar 25, 2012, 12:33 PM

11. and its coupled with an "Age of Arrogance" ... nt

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Response to wavesofeuphoria (Reply #11)

Sun Mar 25, 2012, 01:18 PM

22. Arrogant Ignorance...

... ain't that the worst?

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Response to hunter (Reply #22)

Mon Mar 26, 2012, 08:07 AM

54. Didn't Pres. Obama once say, "They're proud of their ignorance."

As I recall, it was in a debate.

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Response to cleanhippie (Original post)

Sun Mar 25, 2012, 12:34 PM

13. A nation of grifters.

And sheep.

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Response to cleanhippie (Original post)

Sun Mar 25, 2012, 12:35 PM

14. k and r for a most excellent article

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Response to cleanhippie (Original post)

Sun Mar 25, 2012, 12:40 PM

15. Thanks cleanhippie very well written.

 

I am also well old enough to remember the sixties and I don't remember (politically) much being different back then either. I mean George Wallace, Jesse Helms, Strom Thurmond and many many more right wing, demagogue, nut case, gas bags were plying their trade then too. We also we're involved in a civil war that was none of our business same as now. Keep up the good work voicing what should be obvious and maybe some people will finally learn from history and stop repeating it. Thanks.

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Response to xtraxritical (Reply #15)

Mon Mar 26, 2012, 06:19 AM

49. I remember those sixties RW nuts, too, xtra...

But, the glaring difference between then and now, as I see it, is the 24/7 delivery system the RW crazies have at their disposal, i.e. RW hate radio and Faux Noise.
Back in the day, they didn't have an all-pervasive, national forum to spew their insane views.

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Response to Surya Gayatri (Reply #49)

Mon Mar 26, 2012, 12:39 PM

66. Too true, but we have MSNBC and on radio Stephanie Miller, we're catching on now! Current TV too.

 

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Response to Surya Gayatri (Reply #49)

Mon Mar 26, 2012, 06:42 PM

70. back in the day it was network TV and radio

After the Saturday morning cartoons, they ruled the airwaves for most of Saturday and all Sunday. They were also all over the radio. They'd gang-call the local call-in show no matter what the topic and start babbling about Jaysus.

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Response to cleanhippie (Original post)

Sun Mar 25, 2012, 12:47 PM

16. It's the Sarah Palin legacy

Which was primed by the vitriolic hate language from such luminaries as Hannity, Limbaugh, Malkin, Coulter and their imitators. Sarah was the person who opened the floodgates, flinging the doors open for racism, bigotry and stupidity to come forth as viable alternatives.

She's just the latest version of Pandora's Box, unleashing untold hatred and rage and fear. It was always there, of course, but it was kept where it belonged, behind closed doors and in the dark. With some luck it will go back under the rocks it belongs under.

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Response to cleanhippie (Original post)

Sun Mar 25, 2012, 12:53 PM

17. Game, set, match.

Boom!

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Response to cleanhippie (Original post)

Sun Mar 25, 2012, 01:00 PM

18. rec.

oops!

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Response to cleanhippie (Original post)

Sun Mar 25, 2012, 01:10 PM

19. A whole bunch of them know better

It's not like there are just a few in the Republican party who know that all of the above is bullshit and use it to pull the strings of the imbeciles. That isn't the only thing going on. As Dostoevsky noted in Underground Man, there are reasons for denying "two and two make four." In fact, everyone does it all the time. It's fun. The problem with the Republicans is that they don't have a good hold on their own reins.

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Response to cleanhippie (Original post)

Sun Mar 25, 2012, 01:16 PM

20. Remember just a few years ago these people were screaming that we were traitors we need to be die or

be in concentration camps. Nothing has changed in the slightest. While we wring our hands and try to be inclusive, these animals are trying to figure out how to eliminate us.

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Response to cleanhippie (Original post)

Sun Mar 25, 2012, 01:17 PM

21. They've been Dumbing us Down

Ever since Eisenhower gave his M.I.C. speech.

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Response to TatonkaJames (Reply #21)

Sun Mar 25, 2012, 01:41 PM

28. And have been wildly successful with statins.

The $20b/year statin business has finally had to fess up to memory loss problems in the recent FDA warnings. But is anybody telling the story or listening? The brain requires lots of cholesterol to function properly; low fat diet plus blocked cholesterol synthesis yields sub-optimal brain performance.

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Response to cleanhippie (Original post)

Sun Mar 25, 2012, 01:19 PM

23. Religion is pushed and atheists villified to keep the masses ignorant and gullible

It makes it easier to swallow their lot in life and to keep working against their own best interests and for the wealth enrichment of the .001 percent.

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Response to Arugula Latte (Reply #23)

Sun Mar 25, 2012, 01:35 PM

27. "religious media outlets whose function is to fabricate an alternate reality for their viewers..."

Best line of the article, IMO.

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Response to Arugula Latte (Reply #23)

Mon Mar 26, 2012, 10:46 AM

64. 100% correct. nt

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Response to cleanhippie (Original post)

Sun Mar 25, 2012, 01:24 PM

24. Joe was able to understand them

but when he spoke in an ordinary voice he sounded pompous and faggy to them.

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Response to arely staircase (Reply #24)

Mon Mar 26, 2012, 10:34 PM

72. We don't have to wait 500 years

Republicans are proud of their ignorance now.

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Response to cleanhippie (Original post)

Sun Mar 25, 2012, 02:21 PM

29. Spot on!

IT's truly amazing to watch this transformation to an Ignorocracy playing out all around us. We humans have a larger brain, but it's animals who believe thier instincts and act accordingly - reacting to what they can see and hear WITHOUT reading ulteriort motives into what they observe. It's amazing to me that our species can SEE and HEAR for themselves, but will willingly swallow perverted explanations from those with a self-serving agenda!

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Response to cleanhippie (Original post)

Sun Mar 25, 2012, 03:07 PM

31. what is really scary is that i know some educated folks who believe those same things

 

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Response to cleanhippie (Original post)

Sun Mar 25, 2012, 03:08 PM

32. It's scarey to see Sanatorium win anywhere!

We used to say abiut the company I worked for:
"They take the best of the best and make them mediocre."

Devide and conquer
Lower salaries over time
Reduce benefits over time
Tell employees they are lucky they have a job.
Excommunicate the ones who dare speak up.
(either lower ratings or find a way to fire them)

Now, after 35 years we find we were right
But still, nobody will speak up

And it's scarey to see the numbers of people who will vote for the Repubs
after it's been shown that they are working to make the rich richer!

They see the numbers. They see the difference in the salary increases.
They can't see that without middle class spending, businesses can't survive.

And they are talking about reducing the taxes on the wealthy.
And Ryan is still slinging the same crap he put out before.
And the numbers still don't match up!

Beautifully written cleanhippie! Thank you!

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Response to cleanhippie (Original post)

Sun Mar 25, 2012, 03:20 PM

33. Yep....Propoganda Slurpers

I go back and forth on who to blame more....the worthy successors to Goebbels as in Faux News/Rush etc. or the dupes/dopes who buy their corporate/fascist/racist drivel at face value. Never mind fact checking because as we know, facts have a progressive bias.

I tend to place most of the blame on the clueless masses who just accept what Fox/Rush/Hannity say. So dumb they continue to vote directly against their own self interest to fatten the coffers of millionaires and billionaires. The we'll eat cat food just so you can have another million crowd.

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Response to colsohlibgal (Reply #33)

Sun Mar 25, 2012, 05:31 PM

39. There will always be clueless suckers

That's why the right has spent billions to buy up radio and TV' while screeching "liberal media" 24/7 to cover their real intentions. In the 1950's, when television was starting en masse, many people realized quite quickly whay an awsomely powerful tool it could be for information and, of course, propaganda. Laws against consolodation and for ethics and fairness were enacted. (like the Fairness Doctrine) This is where the "if it's on TV, it has to be true" slogan came from.
Many people still do not understand that is no longer the case anymore.

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Response to cleanhippie (Original post)

Sun Mar 25, 2012, 03:26 PM

35. Kicked and highly recommended.

Education is the lantern that shines a light on knowledge.
Faux Snooze was the worst thing to ever happen to America.
The "dumbing down" of the American people.

"We should be careful to get out of an experience only the wisdom that is in it -- and stop there; lest we be like the cat that sits down on the hot stove-lid. She will never sit down on a hot stove-lid again -- and that is well; but also she will never sit down on a cold one any more." ~ Mark Twain

After the Vietnam War, after all that hell, we still didn't learn our lesson about the military industrial complex. Then Bush invaded Iraq and Afghanistan. And here we are, 10 years later in Afghanistan, no better off than we were in 1968 in Vietnam. If this continues for another year, there has to be a national response to the killing and maiming of innocent people living in other countries, or else this country can never, ever achieve "peace in our time".

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Response to cleanhippie (Original post)

Sun Mar 25, 2012, 03:29 PM

36. My latest favorite was a Washington Journal caller on Friday who said

Obama was using public schools to indoctrinate our children into community service.

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Response to EFerrari (Reply #36)

Sun Mar 25, 2012, 05:53 PM

40. God forbid anyone would ever want to do anything to serve their community. n/t

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Response to cleanhippie (Original post)

Sun Mar 25, 2012, 03:36 PM

37. In particular, what we need to do

 

Is educate our children about RW lies so that people stop believing that schools push a left-wing agenda.



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Response to RZM (Reply #37)

Sun Mar 25, 2012, 04:01 PM

38. Well, to be fair, educating our children to think for themselves IS a left-wing agenda.

That is the fundamental difference, that the left teaches children to think for themselves (generally) and the right teaches their children WHAT to think.

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Response to cleanhippie (Reply #38)

Sun Mar 25, 2012, 09:49 PM

46. all teachers, even liberal ones

perform a conservative function in society.
we want our students to think critically but we can only offer them what we have to think about. those ideas and systems/structures come from the past.

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Response to iemitsu (Reply #46)

Mon Mar 26, 2012, 06:38 AM

50. hmm...

I think you'd be surprised how many of us teachers are subversive activists in our classrooms...

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Response to chervilant (Reply #50)

Mon Mar 26, 2012, 10:09 AM

61. Very surprised.

My wife is a public school teacher, too, so I am picking up what you are putting down.

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Response to cleanhippie (Original post)

Sun Mar 25, 2012, 07:07 PM

41. You have nailed it.

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Response to cleanhippie (Original post)

Sun Mar 25, 2012, 08:21 PM

42. I think it has most to do with TV. And radio.

Decades of broadcasting a hole where the general populace's welfare once was addressed has put a matching hole inside millions of heads.

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Response to FredStembottom (Reply #42)

Sun Mar 25, 2012, 08:45 PM

43. there is something else

reasonably educated people should not be susceptible to the kind of propaganda peddled by rightwing fanatics

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Response to cleanhippie (Original post)

Sun Mar 25, 2012, 08:47 PM

44. Someone

"Widespread ignorance bordering on idiocy is our new national goal....ideal citizen of a politically corrupt state, such as the one we now have, is a gullible dolt unable to tell truth from bullshit."

...had to say it.

Good post on this here: http://www.dailykos.com/story/2012/03/24/1077381/-The-U-S-Is-Trapped-in-an-Age-of-Ignorance-N-Y-Rev-of-Books-


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Response to cleanhippie (Original post)

Mon Mar 26, 2012, 12:52 AM

47. What's that Frank Zappa quote about how we're a generation raised on cartoons?

I think that applies - electing Ronald Reagan was the biggest mistake we've ever made - his gutting of our nation's education system - it's coming back to bite us in the ass hard. The sad thing is - we're going to get what we deserve until we rise up and start fixing his bullshit.

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Response to cleanhippie (Original post)

Mon Mar 26, 2012, 12:58 AM

48. It's much worse than that, it's 100+ years of propaganda from everywhere

 

It's not just RW ideologues looking for suckers, it's way way worse than that. Corporate propaganda rules people's minds today, corporations constantly change their propaganda/sales pitches to target every market. Millions of people still believe entirely discredited "news" companies like CNN, MSNBC, Washington Post, NY Times, AP, etc..., despite those outlets being wrong daily about 1000s of "news stories" and refusing to even take a stand on issues like torture.

Until people in the U.S. realize that they are being exposed to pure propaganda from every mainstream media source they listen to then people will keep getting dumber. It takes a conscience effort to discard every learned and trusted "media source" and start over again with a new mindset of actual learning.

The old saying was "don't believe everything you read" and the new truth is "don't believe anything you read". Sounds harsh but that is the only way learning takes place.

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Response to just1voice (Reply #48)

Mon Mar 26, 2012, 04:15 PM

69. You mentioned MSNBC. Show me when Rachel Maddow has EVER lied. Please.

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Response to cleanhippie (Original post)

Mon Mar 26, 2012, 07:35 AM

52. Wow.

We humans are innately curious. We are creative creatures. Abraham Maslow's hierarchy of needs suggests that our drive to create is as important to our existence as food, water, and shelter. An essential component of our creative drive is the commensurate need to be recognized for our contributions. ALL of us have the capacity to create (save for a very few whose mental processes are hampered by disease or injury). ALL of us thrive on recognition (e.g., we don’t need to be told we’re stupid or slow).

If we look at contemporary research on timed IQ tests, we find that most of the participating research subjects score 'near genius' if the timed element of the test is removed. I contend that this research substantiates the fact that all human beings possess fully functioning, fully capable brains (again, save for a very few whose brains have been damaged or are hampered by disease or drug use). According to contemporary research, including research conducted to assess current educational methodologies, we humans all learn in different ways, and at different paces.

Now, consider this: our species has evolved a system of education that conflates hierarchy with intellect. The faster you can solve a complex problem, the 'smarter' you are perceived to be. If you are a child of privilege, your IQ may only be limited by your own intellectual laziness (Dubyah comes readily to mind...). However, if you are a child living in poverty, solving complex academic problems is likely subsumed by the daily rigors of simply surviving. If your primary language is not English, solving complex academic problems may be impossible until you learn to speak a new language. In all these instances, your IQ could be off the charts, but who would know?

Worse yet, our vaunted system of public education is structured to convince two-thirds to three-quarters of us that we have average or below average intellects. Can you say "self-fulfilling prophecy"? Might you be one of those unfortunates who grew up believing that an average intellect was your unenviable albatross? Must we blame those among us who bought into this stultifying, hierarchical definition of IQ?

In The Age of American Unreason, Susan Jacoby notes that

America is now ill with a powerful mutant strain of intertwined ignorance, anti-rationalism, and anti-intellectualism...the virulence of the current outbreak is inseparable from an unmindfulness that is, paradoxically, both aggressive and passive. This condition is aggressively promoted by everyone, from politicians to media executives, whose livelihood depends on a public that derives its opinions from sound bites and blogs, and it is passively accepted by a public in thrall to the serpent promising effortless enjoyment from the fruit of the tree of infotainment.


If our species is to evolve beyond this "Age of American Unreason," we must not buy into the specious argument that 'conservative' individuals are likely to possess 'low IQs' and/or have the tendency to be prejudiced, while ‘liberal’ individuals are likely to be ‘intellectual snobs.’ We must refuse to snarf these divisive red herrings. We must change the dialogue.

I have to confess that I have been teetering on the edge of bitter misanthropy these last six years--angrily and impotently watching a democratic administration continue the Bush administration's hedonistic obeisance to the vile Corporate Megalomaniacs who've usurped our media, our politics and our global economy. I’ve felt alienated from the countless bloggers online who revel in hate- and fear- mongering, who gleefully hurl invectives and indulge in name-calling, using the vilest vulgar epithets to vilify those with whom they disagree.

I admit that I almost made the same mistake these vile Corporate Megalomaniacs have made: I had concluded that the last sixty years of co-opted public education had strangled our citizens' critical thinking skills beyond redemption. I thought that the vast majority of us had become complacent little automatons, completely devoted to wanton consumerism. I thought our species had devolved into spiteful, narcissistic, hedonistic brats. #Occupy (and OPs like yours) changed my mind: I have hope we can change our dialogue and our likely future.


(In addition to Jacoby's The Age of American Unreason, I highly recommend Jerry Mander's Four Arguments for the Elimination of Television, Richard Hofstadter's The Paranoid Style in American Politics, and Marilyn French's Beyond Power.)

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Response to chervilant (Reply #52)

Mon Mar 26, 2012, 10:51 AM

65. Thanks for the book recs.

I've been meaning to read the Hofstadter for years and have added the Jacoby book to my reading list.

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Response to hifiguy (Reply #65)

Mon Mar 26, 2012, 09:25 PM

71. You're welcome!

Hofstadter really helped me.

If you have any resources you can recommend about effective communication with those pitiable few among us who are fearful, bigoted, and narrow-minded; I would be forever grateful.

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Response to cleanhippie (Original post)

Mon Mar 26, 2012, 08:05 AM

53. "Despite their bravado, these fools can always be counted on...

...to vote against their self-interest."


That's what just drives me crazy - they turn stupid on themselves and their children, and then our children pay the price too.

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Response to cleanhippie (Original post)

Mon Mar 26, 2012, 08:29 AM

55. Say what!

Maybe 20-30% of the people believe that junk listed. How can we be in an age of ignorance if only a minority of people are ignorant? I'd guess historically our 30% is about the best its ever been. Heck, there used to be majority support for burning witches!

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Response to cleanhippie (Original post)


Response to cleanhippie (Original post)

Mon Mar 26, 2012, 08:39 AM

57. When ignorance became profitable.

that should be the subtitle.

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Response to cleanhippie (Original post)

Mon Mar 26, 2012, 09:51 AM

60. Yes, all one has to do to understand the problem is open any newspaper

to the LTTE and start reading.

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Response to cleanhippie (Original post)

Mon Mar 26, 2012, 10:30 AM

62. Q: What are we becoming? A: In a word, Mordor

Some DUer said that years ago and I've never forgotten as it hit the nail on the head.

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Response to cleanhippie (Original post)

Mon Mar 26, 2012, 10:34 PM

73. Putting in generic reply

so I can read when I get home.

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Response to cleanhippie (Original post)

Tue Mar 27, 2012, 12:07 AM

74. Ignorance is in!

 

Ignorance in America today reaches much deeper than the list above. Among other pearls, 30% of Americans believe the Sun rotates around the Earth and about 40% don't know the name of the US Vice President. In the last 30 years, the ignorant have successfully claimed a place of prominence in American life and have managed to turn ignorance into a cool quality, something desirable and to be aspired to.

If you want to find a culprit, consider Ronald Reagan. With his charisma and charm, Reagan openly acknowledged that he didn't know Latin America consisted of nations (apparently he believed Latin America was a big country, just like Palin's Africa.) That marked the beginning of ignorance as cool. The tipping point beyond which ignorance became a matter of pride was the election of GW Bush, who was cheered when claiming that even B- students (namely himself) could become presidents - twelve years later this is echoed by Santorum mocking Obama for wishing everyone were one day college educated.

Ignorance feeds on itself as the march of technology hollows out the American working class - left to witness skilled jobs fleeing because higher levels of skills and more advanced technology are now available elsewhere at reasonable cost (the Bay Bridge made in China is one of many instances of this) the working class clings ever more tightly to church, guns, and ignorance. Viewed from some distance, cherishing and embracing ignorance has some charm, but is very bad news for America's future.

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