Ignorance in America

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.” The earth is 4004 years old and Neanderthals roamed with dinosaurs.”

“The wild winter in my state disproves global warming“

“The Constitution states that the official language of the United States is English”

Well………….no.

“When did ignorance become a point of view?” the cartoon character Dilbert once asked.  It’s a question that has become increasingly resonant these days—especially in our public life, and especially in our political campaigns in which elected officials and those who seek election seem to assume a startling level of public ignorance. Perhaps that’s smart.”

Now there is a distinct difference between ignorance and just plain stupid.  Ignorance is, in common usage, a lack of knowledge. Stupidity is a mental dullness that indicates an inability to learn or a lack of interest in learning. One can be ignorant without being stupid although stupidity contributes to ignorance and sometimes it is hard to tell the difference.

In America, ignorance is thriving despite public education,  great advances in knowledge and the breathtaking increase in our ability to store and access information. Ignorance is flourishing – public ignorance of matters that are significant to all of us living our lives together.

“Such ignorance is removable, but the irony is that much of it we ourselves construct and sustain. Much of it is motivated, willful, often bolstered by false knowledge, and anchored by prejudice, privilege and ideology.”

On climate change, Obama’s birthplace,  his religion, healthcare, the Iran anti-nuclear deal and a host of other topics our leading pols have made false or highly misleading comments which seem to play to the snarky comments trolled on the internet and social media.  Calling out the lies and half truths does virtually nothing to stop the infusion of ignorance and hysteria they feed.

“Public ignorance is broader than the political: It embraces the historical, geographical, cultural, linguistic, scientific, quantitative, economic, aesthetic and religious—indeed, the whole range of knowledge one needs to understand the world.  Public ignorance in the U.S. (and we are not alone) is now so severe that the democratic ideal of an informed citizenry seems quaint. Some argue that certain industries and many politicians prefer an ignorant public.”

“When the Ukraine conflict was at it’s height, a respected survey asked Americans to locate the country on a map. ON AVERAGE, the responses were off by more than 1,800 hundred miles, putting Ukraine in Africa, Latin America or even Canada!  Geez!!  To make matters worse, the further the indicated location from where Ukraine actually is, the more likely the respondent was to advocate military intervention.”

If one wants to shake his faith in democracy one needs only speak with a number of American voters.

When a legislator proposed that Vermont adopt a state motto in Latin, the blog responders displayed their ignorance: “No way! This is America, not Mexico or Latin America. And they need to learn our language!

Good god almighty.

“We have now developed a culture in which ignorance is celebrated, perversely flaunted as a badge of pride. This is not good ole American anti-intellectualism. It’s deeper than that.  It involves not only the distrust of expertise and mainstream sources of information, but also the rejection of rationally relevant factors for adopting beliefs. It seems to abandon hard-won standards of knowledge and institutions like science that have served us since the Enlightenment and brought us the standard of living we enjoy today. Evidence and conclusions are accepted selectively or resisted stubbornly. Some adopt ridiculous conspiracy theories, believing they have the “real truth”—but this is false knowledge, ignorance in elaborate disguise.”

It has been suggested that a number of factors contribute to this culture of willful ignorance: religious fundamentalism; the postmodern assault on ideals like truth and reason; corruption of pure science by “sponsored” research and profit motives; the conflation of news and entertainment; the media’s faulty vision of what “balanced” coverage requires.

Today, with the advance in technology, we have enabled those so inclined to live in  a cozy informational cocoon in which they only experience familiar things that reinforce their preconceptions.  It is the triumph of the will over reason and the erosion of the concept of objective truth.

Truth no longer matters.  We can believe anything we want.  We have the “right to believe,” secure in our own ideological commitments.

Thus the politics of fear – of what we might learn to despoil our beliefs.

“Finding the truth is difficult.  Accepting the truth is even more difficult.”

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About toritto

I was born during year four of the reign of Emperor Tiberius Claudius on the outskirts of the empire in Brooklyn. I married my high school sweetheart, the girl I took to the prom and we were together for forty years until her passing in 2004. We had four kids together and buried two together. I had a successful career in Corporate America (never got rich but made a living) and traveled the world. I am currently retired in the Tampa Bay metro area and live alone. One of my daughters is close by and one within a morning’s drive. They call their pops everyday. I try to write poetry (not very well), and about family. Occasionally I will try a historical piece relating to politics. :-)
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12 Responses to Ignorance in America

  1. beetleypete says:

    I had to watch that film twice, Frank, to make sure it wasn’t a spoof, or set-up. The level of ignorance (sadly from the older people too) was staggering. However, I don’t think it is just an American problem, and feel sure that a similar group interviewed in the UK would be unlikely to perform much better. (I confess I don’t know how many Prime Ministers we have had…)
    The lack of geographical knowledge was worrying, and that aspect of American education and culture is often highlighted over here. One famous report asked Americans in the street to show the location of their own state on a map of the USA. I think it was Illinois. Of all those shown on TV, only one got it right. (I don’t know how many others did, and were not shown, of course.)

    No recognising the distinctive outline of Florida, not knowing which countries border the USA, and not being able to name a single European country, I think that we would do better with those questions here. As for history, well what can I say? My own step daughter thought that I might have fought in the 1914-18 war, and she’s 26. (And she is aware that I am 63 too.)
    Best wishes, Pete.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. DesertAbba says:

    You have capacities for relevance, insight and clarity of expression seen/heard in but a very few bloggers. If you’d look into it, you could become a contributor to KOS. Thanks again for describing our predicament so well. I wonder if the level of ignorance has not been a substratum of our exceptionalism since the beginning but now information technology makes it impossible to hide or ignore?

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I think we have Karl Rove to thank for earning George W Bush blue collar votes by making him into a bumbling doofus who bragged about not reading books or understanding the nuances of foreign policy.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Great post, if a little depressing! As you know, I have blogged for several years about how one man, Daniel Cassidy, managed to convince large numbers of people that much American slang came from Irish. They believed him because he was a Professor (except he flunked his degree and had no qualifications). They believed him because he produced lots of Irish phrases which were good matches for the slang expressions – but none of them ever actually existed in Irish! And because he pretended that he was a radical and that WASP bigotry was responsible for suppressing this alternative Irish history for expressions like crony and baloney, so that anyone who objected could be conveniently dismissed as a reactionary.In other words, regardless of their avowed political stance, ignorant people use the same evidence-free, ideologically motivated flim-flam to defend their moronic beliefs from criticism. “Evidence and conclusions are accepted selectively or resisted stubbornly.” Ain’t that the truth!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. jfwknifton says:

    Reblogged this on John Knifton and commented:
    If you are short of time, watch the rather scary video. If you have more time available, then read this powerful article which is about American politics, but could well apply increasingly to England. All ex-teachers should certainly read it!
    This is a re-blog which means that I did not write it. It is the work of Frank Toritto. Leave a comment if you wish.

    Like

  6. jfwknifton says:

    Probably your best post so far of the ones I have read. Excellent work, thank you.

    Like

  7. wfdec says:

    The truth, here in Australia, is clearly what we see on commercial TV. And most comes from American movies. It is quite frightening, but many Americans who fought in the Pacific and in Europe did go home in 1945 with a lot more understanding than those who never left home.

    Like

  8. oldpoet56 says:

    This is a very good post, thank you for posting it up for us to read, good work.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. oldpoet56 says:

    Reblogged this on Truth Troubles: Why people hate the truths' of the real world and commented:
    Re-blogging this to try to help bring a smile to your face and some relief to your work day.

    Like

  10. Ron Celano says:

    Although Americans understand what most of the issues are that face the country, they don’t have a clear understanding of what the costs are. That is in terms of money out of their pockets and how it affects choices that they make on a daily basis. Obviously the candidates don’t do a good job of explaining the costs and don’t dare talk about choices. This concern prompted me to write a book on the subject. It is called “Choices.” It describes the issues, talks about the monetary costs and how they affect choices that Americans need to make on a daily basis. It also describes how many of those choices are either becoming limited or are being taken away. Being number 2 in the world in ignorance is a shameful commentary. Hopefully, my new book will alleviate some of it.

    https://www.amazon.com/Choices

    Liked by 1 person

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