View Full Version : The age of unreason

02-17-2008, 11:22 AM
Author Susan Jacoby argues that we are now struggling with ignorance as a political crisis. She argues that we are obsessessed with small personal facts at the expense of important issues. Most Americans don’t spend the necessary time to have a legitimate base of knowledge from which to make important decisions.

Yet politicians dare not address this crisis of ignorance. They won’t talk about the political significance of public ignorance, even though it is the widespread public ignorance of basic facts that “makes serious deception possible and plausible.”

Jacoby offers quite a few anecdotes. One of these anecdotes is about Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s radio addresses during World War II. Roosevelt urged his listeners to go get a map and to look at the map while he talked about the significant events of that war. It’s hard to imagine any political figure doing that today. Jacoby cites statistics indicating that only a small number of today’s high school graduates have any idea of where the various countries of the Middle East are located on a world map on which the country boundaries are drawn.

She takes it as a truism that our political culture is a reflection of our general culture. We don’t want to learn anymore. We go to websites and we attend lectures only when we want to hear information that reinforces what we are ready now. Only a small minority of people are any longer willing to learn from people with whom they disagree. Jacoby blames this on the reduced attention span of Americans.It also has to do with the number of Americans who exercise critical thinking. One-half of Americans believe in ghosts. One-third of Americans believe in astrology. One-half of Americans do not believe in evolution.

Jacoby party blames the media. The news media presents “truth as equidistant from two points.” For example, evolution and creationism are presented as two equally valid viewpoints by the news media. Jacoby calls this tactic “dumb objectivity.”She cites a shocking statistic (put forth by Stephen Prothero in a book called Religious Literacy): one-half of Americans cannot name Genesis as the first book of the Bible. This lack of information is shocking because huge numbers of Americans claim that the Bible is the most important book in the world. Here’s more shocking statistics: 15% of Americans do not understand that the sun revolves around the earth. Most Americans don’t know how many Justices are on the United States Supreme Court.

The ignorance goes on and on, and it is imperiling our democracy.

web page (http://dangerousintersection.org/2008/02/16/susan-jacoby-argues-that-america-has-entered-the-age-of-unreason/)

02-17-2008, 12:28 PM
I think the internet actually contributes to the problem....
I see so many articles, or information provided on the internet, that are very shallow with no depth. I'm afraid the "information highway" doesn't really lead anywhere. We are a society that knows a lot of useless informationand too many of us these days can't actually think for themselves.

02-17-2008, 01:15 PM
Neil Postman's Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business , taken to the next level.

02-17-2008, 02:17 PM
Filter out stupidity? Then everything I post will be filtered!! /ccboard/images/graemlins/blush.gif

02-17-2008, 04:18 PM
Well, I'm sure your post would have been very interesting if I had taken the time to read it, but have you heard the latest news?
Brittany might be getting out of rehab soon.
If she does she may get her children back!
I think children should be with their mama.
Well, I don't really know, but I read it or heard it somewhere and it sounds right.
BTW, did you see that dress Paris wore to the Grammys?
What WAS that child thinking?

02-17-2008, 05:29 PM
good article....
This could explain how Bush carried Fla, but Ohio voters being more sophisticated, they still would have had to rig the machines.

02-17-2008, 05:56 PM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote wolfdancer:</font><hr>B-B-B-BUT B-B-B-BOOOOSH! <hr /></blockquote>
You've got it bad bro.


02-17-2008, 06:30 PM
there you go stuttering again.
"Science has long established that many brain and nervous system disorders are a direct result of long-term nutrient deficiencies. (See my treatise on breast fed Vs Bottle fed)
Neurological disorders worsen gradually with time, resulting in malfunctioning neurotransmitters and a myriad of chronic degenerative conditions."
You been malfunctioning, and degenerating here for some time now...)

02-17-2008, 06:51 PM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote S0Noma:</font><hr> Here’s more shocking statistics: 15% of Americans do not understand that the sun revolves around the earth. <hr /></blockquote>

Wow! That's a new one on me! I was taught all my life that the planets revolved around the sun!

02-17-2008, 06:53 PM
Heretic!! Galileo was imprisoned for having such a belief.....

02-17-2008, 09:09 PM
Crap! Since when?

02-18-2008, 07:11 AM
Most Americans don’t spend the necessary time to have a legitimate base of knowledge from which to make important decisions. <hr /></blockquote>

You can't believe what you see on US TV channels like Fox etc and most working people don't have time to chase down the real story on the web.
IMO the biggest disaster since the war was Katrina but it never gets a mention these days.
The mainstream media news is selective, distorted or slanted.
Politicians are never asked the real questions and they are never forced to give a real answer any Q put to them.
The media failed in the run up to war in Iraq and nothing has changed.

One loyal Bush supporter. [ the Dems should use this! ]

/ccboard/images/graemlins/grin.gif web page (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=grvpyepkD2o)

Gayle in MD
02-18-2008, 11:35 AM
I saw this lady interviewed on Bill Moyers Journal. I completely agree with the premise of her book. I don't think Americans care enough, and the issues are more serious than ever, IMO. I know people are busy, but if they refuse to study the issues, we'd be far better off if they didn't vote at all, IMO.

I think the onslaught of the so called Think Tanks have also contributed to unrealistic policies, particularly Iraq. People in these organizations have personal agendas, financial and otherwise, and then sway public opinion to fit them. Americans don't bother to research on their own. They much prefer the rosey picture, to the brutal truth.

I'm looking forward to reading her book. There are several very good, new books which have just come out.

Gayle in Md.