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Anti-Intellectualism and the "Dumbing Down" of America

Discussion in 'Off Topic' started by Curt Renz, May 8, 2015.

  1. Curt Renz

    Curt Renz Active Member

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  2. jdbob

    jdbob Member

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    Handy infographic

    asimov.jpg
     
  3. mknox

    mknox Well-Known Member

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    Oh, cool... flashy picture. Now I get it :biggrin:
     
  4. ChadS

    ChadS Petroleum is for sissies

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    #4 ChadS, May 8, 2015
    Last edited: May 8, 2015
    I agree that anti-intellectualism is something I'm concerned with - and that we've always had.

    I think part of the problem is that it's too easy for the average person reading the links in their Facebook feed to think that those intellectuals can't make up their minds. It doesn't matter what the topic is, you can find a "study" for it as easily as one against it. I think many people without the time to investigate simply assume nobody really knows the answer, so you might as well have an opinion. And back it up with a "study".

    Of course, if you follow the links to the study, you may find it doesn't really say what the journalist's summary says it does. Indeed I've found some that say pretty much the opposite; even if the journalist/blogger is trying to be honest (most are; but it doesn't take many to cause problems), some of them - not all! I have seen some very good reporting - are a journalist/blogger because they didn't want to take science classes in college and they may easily misinterpret the results, or at least their certainty and significance. Or they may simply be pressured by their editors to write something "interesting" (and the headline, an even shorter summary written by yet another person, makes the problem even worse). Or you may find it's not an honest peer-reviewed study at all, but rather a paper by a company with a profit motive or an individual with an agenda that has some mistaken assumptions or is missing pieces of the puzzle. The problem is that almost nobody follows the links to check all that out. Who has the time?

    Any article that talks about a study but doesn't have a link or at least enough information for me to find the study, I assume is incorrect. If it's something significant that doesn't match what I've heard before, I follow the link to the study to check it out. But as important as I think it is to do this, I don't have time to investigate everything I might be concerned with. So while much of my information may be as imperfect as others', I don't blame the problem on science or smart people. I think the far bigger problem is with bad science reporting, and dishonest or naive people that are more concerned with making it sound like their assertions are backed by fact than in checking to see that they are, really, backed by fact.
     
  5. MikeC

    MikeC Active Member

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    Curt, I would point out that the dumbing down of the current generation hypothesis is not consistent with your post yesterday about how younger investors are more likely to invest in TSLA than older investors. :wink:
     
  6. ggr

    ggr Roadster R80 537, SigS P85 29

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    :wink: That does not logically follow, for at least two reasons. First, the investment goals of the generations are probably quite different. Second, it isn't necessarily dumbing down that causes the younger set to make the right investment decision; they might just like the glitz of Tesla and Musk.
     
  7. 1208

    1208 Active Member

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    Some peoples goal is not truth or science but what they want to be real, whether that be climate change denial, moon hoaxers, men thinking they are women, 911 truthers, the list goes on.

    As long as their goal is what they want and not what is, ignorance and anti-science will remain in society.

    ChadS makes some good points about journalism. The press can exploit bad science to change peoples opinions whose goal is truth and science.
     
  8. Curt Renz

    Curt Renz Active Member

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    Indeed, as written over 2000 years ago by Julius Caesar: "Most people believe what they 'want' to believe."
     
  9. strider

    strider Active Member

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    I would contend that not much has changed, we are just measuring it more. I bet if you could run those same surveys 50-60 years ago you'd get similar results. Also, the internet has given "common people" a platform to be heard like never before. 50 years ago one could only read the words of professional writers in books and newspapers. You never read the words of the "common person." Now with the Internet the common people have an equal platform as the professionals and this makes the professionals mad. This writer is a prime example. He is trying to desperately cling to his intellectual superiority in a world where his views are no longer automatically "better" than others simply because he writes for a certain publication.

    Every generation despairs about how "dumb" the next generation is. Yet the world keeps turning. The rise of the tech companies in the last 20 years has made huge strides in reversing the whole geek/nerd jock dynamic. I recently went back for my 20-year high school reunion. They were giving out those kind of silly awards for who traveled the furthest to get there, who had the most kids, who'd been married the longest, etc. But then they asked, who here has made their first million. The ONLY hands that went up belonged to the people who were considered geeks/nerds in high school. None of the jocks' hands went up. Now will that make high school any easier for my kids? I have no idea. But as adults the geeks/nerds are winning. Yes, pop culture will always idolize athletes but that is not unique to America.

    I think the main angle here is our consumer culture. Corporations control all of the media that's out there and they want to sell products. What products can you sell that celebrates intellectualism? Leather wing-backed chairs? Globes? No, they sell athletic shoes and clothes and make-up and use pop culture to drive demand for these products.

    My biggest fear is that while Asian countries are trying to make their education system more like ours (based on thinking and problem solving vs memorizing facts and computation) we are trying to make our system more like theirs with NCLB and other focus on standardized testing. My other major concern is that the financialization of our society is having a highly deleterious effect on our future. Today our best and brightest are not pursuing science or medicine, they're going to Wall Street. So instead of contributing to society they are taking (Wall Street is a rentier, they are net consumers of society). Eventually we will run out of things for them to take.
     

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