Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Dumb and Dumberer

An interesting article in the Washington Post by the author of "The Age of American Unreason".


A lot of scary statistics, among them...

"Despite an aggressive marketing campaign aimed at encouraging babies as young as 6 months to watch videos, there is no evidence that focusing on a screen is anything but bad for infants and toddlers. In a study released last August, University of Washington researchers found that babies between 8 and 16 months recognized an average of six to eight fewer words for every hour spent watching videos."

Are Americans really dumber than the rest of the world? I don't think so. I've seen really scary population stratas in Russia, entire schools where students added 1/2 + 3/4 and got 4/6. I think a bell curve is a bell curve everywhere - any country has approximately equivalent percentages of dumb and smart people.

What I do see here is a more direct democracy, where dumb people get to participate a lot more than they do in other country. Sure there were really scary places in Russia, but most people never made a blimp on the political and intellectual landscape of the nation - it was as if they never existed.

Here the 20% of all Americans who believe that Sun revolves around the Sun - they must be the same who also believe that Saddam attacked us on 9/11 and that the Iraq war is going well - get to pick the president. So we get George W. Bush - there's no more direct way to influence not just the US, but the whole world.

As they say, smart people hire people smarter than themselves, dumb people hire people dumber than themselves. Hence our Congress and our "President". And the disproportional role of idiots in public life (compared to the rest of the world).

But the voter participation in Europe is so much higher, you would say. Surely the role that idiots play there must be even greater?

The thing is, Europe has a very strong institution of public press and, most importantly, public TV. So the government has a way to channel information back to the people. If not smarter, they are more educated about the issues they are voting on.

In the US, the idiots are left to themselves and the corporate media whose goal is to extract money, not to educate. And why would the media dig their own grave trying to make the populace more educated? At a minimum, this will cost them the McDonalds advertising revenue...

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