Punchinello’s Chronicles

March 16, 2011

The New Dumb America

Filed under: Butterfly Wings — Punchinello @ 6:32 pm
Tags: , , , ,

If you’re older than around 50, you’ve likely grown up hearing about the dumbing down of America. The idea came to light back in the 1980’s, with a famous book about Why Johnny Can’t Read. Since then we’ve had numerous books and reports telling us that our children are getting less and less of an education. It’s not that we, as human beings are getting stupid, it’s that we’re not getting educated. We’re becoming more and more ignorant.

Think about it: This report on why kids can’t read came out in 1986. That’s 25 years ago, and by the time the book was published there already was a decade of information and data about the problem. We’re looking at close to four decades of diminishing education — forty years!

Let’s suppose a kid went through high-school in 1990, graduating at 18. Now, in 2011, that child is 39 years old. Who are the managers, directors, corporate C-level managers? Who are the politicians, scientists, authors and editors? Who runs the country, if not people in the prime of their adult lives? Those people are usually between 25-45 years old.

Now consider the people who go to the so-called elite colleges and universities. These are the graduates of Harvard and Yale, along with other ivy-league schools. Setting aside their lack of education and preparation, we find out that almost nobody ever fails out of these schools when they’ve been accepted as part of the wealthy class. And who runs our banks, institutions, universities and other upper-level organizations?

For years and years we’ve heard about the dumbing down of America. It’s been an odd bit of trivia, something that’s probably important but doesn’t really affect us directly. We think!

And so, here we are in a nation that’s the recipient of decades of outcome-based, multicultural education. We benefit from generations of people who’ve had almost no competition, whose self-esteem is more important than their ability to think. Do we notice?

Yes, I think we do. How many times have you walked out of a store or fast-food place, shaking your head in wonder as you review the interaction with sale clerks and cashiers? It’s astounding, watching healthy American teens or even adult managers and supervisors. They can’t think, can’t count, don’t know how to do much of anything, and have nothing to offer in the way of any kind of help.

Oh, but they listen to the news! They have conversations! They DO think and talk and express themselves! Really? Have you ever actually listened to what passes of conversation nowadays? Have you read forums, Tweets and Facebook posts? How many times have you heard a conversation sound like cable news, going around and around, filled with feelings and imaginary beliefs, but empty of facts and logic?

There’s a national debate about the massive federal deficit, the economy, bank abuses and political corruption. The Tea Party speaks to issues of Constitutional disregard, financial dereliction, political stupidity, and social disintegration. We have a major earthquake in Japan, and a significant population believes that Mother Nature is mad at those folks.

Conspiracy theories abound, some of them running counter to the most basic theorums of physics, biology, science and mathematics. Yet people all over the country believe these conspiracies are absolutely true. People can’t write, can’t spell, can’t read, can’t think and don’t know the basic principles underlying much of today’s technology. To many folks, a lot of what they see everyday is pretty much magic.

Following the Japanese nuclear emergency, we now have a possibility that the entire concept of nuclear power might be terminated, ending clean energy and proposing something like wind or solar energy as a replacement. That’s ridiculous, but in order to prove it we have to use what? Reading, numbers, logic, thought, analysis, and science.

I’ve encountered more and more people in the past few years who tell me they don’t “believe” in logic! Like this is the Tooth Fairy or something?

Want to know why we won’t get any action on fixing the budget deficits, or why unemployment continues to stay high? Would you like to know why the financial sector now makes up nearly 25% of the US GDP? Want to know why we’re losing our purchasing power through inflation, taxes, and collapsing trade?

It’s because we’ve had decade after decade of children pass through an educational system that doesn’t work. Yes, there are some kids who learn things. There are many kids being home schooled. A lot of kids educate themselves, knowing how important it is. But a tremendous number of kids exit the school system as dumb as a box of hammers!

Too many people have almost no attention span, with complex ideas having to be reduced to comic books and 3-minute sound bytes. Anything longer than 1 page of material is too hard to follow, too complex to understand, and too difficult to handle. Life becomes an ongoing series of mysteries, anxieties, and fog.

Add to the problem of a dumber population, we now drug our kids into oblivion whenever they show any signs of activity beyond a fence post. Do we know what all those pharmaceuticals are doing to their brains? Not really; we just accept whatever some “expert” tells us is going on. Then, a few year down the road we find out those experts were wrong!

Oh well, too bad…so sad, we say with a shrug. So we’ve wiped out the cognitive function of a generation of people; so what? There’s always more kids we can make.

I’m not saying we need an educational overhaul: everyone knows we do. Instead, I’m pointing out that we now have such a dumbed down country (and society) that anyone can come along and convince whole majorities of people of just about anything.

The money pouring into the economy is a good thing, we’re told. Debt is actually money, we’re told. Nuclear power is bad, we’re told. Drilling for oil is bad, we’re told. Doctors know what they’re doing, we’re told. Banks are bad, we’re told.

Without critical thinking, analysis, logic, and a rudimentary knowledge of science, what’s left? A population of primitive fools, governed by warlords and priests of magic. They look with suspicion on business merchants, considering anyone who makes, manufactures or owns something to be a problem. We have adults with the maturity level of 12-yearolds, politicians who throw temper tantrums, and a President who doesn’t know what to do about complicated world problems.

We have voters who don’t understand what’s the meaning of a ballot, an election, or how those things came into existence. We have people with no money who believe they have a right to a wealthy lifestyle. We have people who believe they can hope or wish or dream themselves into a successful life, but who can’t spell “success,” and can’t define what it means.

The tipping point is here. We don’t have enough people anymore who can put together the solutions being proposed every day. There aren’t enough voters, politicians, or authorities to put into action the many action-plans that will fix today’s problems. Bureaucrats don’t understand new ideas, so they toss them in the trash.

And we have a nation governed by bureaucrats. They’re people who grew up with the education system, graduated with no mental development, and are happy sitting in front of the television eating empty-calorie food. Do you wonder why nobody’s fixing anything? Do you wonder why those who are trying to fix things are called “idiots?”

Just think back to how the smarter kids in school have been treated over the decades. We call them nerds, geeks, retards, teacher’s pet, goofs, wimps, and wuss. Then we wonder why there’s nobody left who’s capable, competent, and smart enough to actually get the country working again.

Part 1 of the movie, “Atlas Shrugged” is due to be released into theaters on April 15, 2011. I wonder if movie-going audiences will be capable of understanding what’s the movie about, now. Hopefully, there’ll be just enough people left with a mind, that perhaps it’ll make an impact and change the national debate. We’ll see.

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