This country has been heading in a dangerous direction for a while now. Since Ronnie Rayguns if you ask me. That direction is one of barreling headlong towards a stupendous level of national ignorance. But it has swiftly accelerated, and those who paid attention in physics class are aware that acceleration is a case of exponential growth. Which fact causes me to think that we are running out of time to fix things. America is suffering from the Tyranny of Stupidity and if we don’t act decisively we will be washed away by an irresistible tsunami of stupid.
There was a time not too long ago to remember that public schools provided a pretty good education. I remember because I attended one. My high school was rated second best public school in the country the year I graduated. Yet within four years the quality had plummeted and the school had taken on a semi-prison atmosphere. I used to walk through the woods behind our family church which would emerge onto the school athletic field. About 3 years later the whole field was fenced off and security guards were on full-time duty.
When I attended, the school offered vocational training classes, including electronics for the nascent geeks, soon to rule the digital world. The standard English Humanities curriculum divided the week into English, Art and Music classes that were equivalent to college humanities courses. I know because when I started college I was years ahead of the other students. After I graduated in 1971, the quality of public school education in general deteriorated pretty rapidly.
By the time my kids were in school, the situation was more of warehousing children to study government mandated tests instead of anything remotely approaching intelligent discourse between teachers and students. The goal had become training the kids to pass the test so the school’s funding wouldn’t be reduced. I took my son out of school and home schooled him for two years because he used a word (hegemon) in classroom discussion that the teacher didn’t understand. He was expelled from class until he was willing to apologize to the teacher for not admitting he was wrong. My son’s school was dealing with a parent who had boycotted gym class in mid-sixties middle school because the gym teacher roughed me up—he didn’t like me much—but he liked me much less after they forced him to apologize to me. So I wasn’t about to tell my son he should apologize for being more well-read than his teacher.
Now we live in a country where somewhere around 25-30% believe just about anything they are told by their favorite celebrites, or social media sites. Critical thinking, the structure or history of the country, Civics or government are for the most part ignored. So now a good proportion of citizens have little basis to make sound judgments or to study events or assertions with skepticism. I realize the majority of folks out there pay little attention to politics except close to election time. But it does no good to pay attention at all if you have no information or critical abilities to make informed judgments.
Thank Dog for psychologists Dunning and Kruger because if they hadn’t developed their eponymous Effect, someone would have had to do it. This country is suffering from a mass endemic outbreak of that Effect due to the epidemic of ignorance which has lead to the present Tyranny of Stupidity. The majority of people sincerely believe they are more intelligent than the average. The even distribution of intelligence among the population according to the Intelligence Bell Curve clearly refutes that idea.
Which all results in our current predicament. Nothing gets accomplished because a large enough portion of the population have received a purposefully poor education, enough to perform some repetitive task. Or even better, a morally bankrupt service for the kleptocracy. It was bad enough when most people believed that anything one saw on TV had to be true. Now the gift of unlimited communication and knowledge that is the Internet has been corrupted into the world’s most dangerous propaganda machine. The mostly ignorant people who uncritically believe everything they follow on line have made this gridlocked society possible. Too many are not equipped to make intelligent judgments about societal issues that have enormous impact on people’s lives and welfare.
Any rational, informed person cannot help but wonder what the hell is going on. Every day brings new facts about the amazing level of corruption in the past few years and the abandoning of all standards. Everyone is entitled to their opinion, but when your opinion has no basis in reality and is just frigging ludicrous by any normal standards of decency and sanity, that is an opinion that should carry no weight. Informed opinions are the only type that matter. We are in the midst of a fight over whether or not observable reality will prevail over fascist lies. This is dead serious and I don’t know how to effectively convey that to that 25-30% who seem oblivious and unsusceptible to factual reality. Ignorance may be mitigated but the Tyranny of Stupidity is nearly impossible to subdue.