Writing

American Ignorance

  • March 3, 2016

American-Ignorance

During an interview in the 1908s, science fiction writer Isaac Asimov said, “There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there has always been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.”

Asimov was right; in recent years I have noticed a disturbing trend in todays society of anti-intellectualism in which the daily lives of celebrities is mentioned in the news, and consumer culture has become a priority over intelligence.  Science is generally dismissed as wrong whenever discoveries and progress is made which conflicts with religious beliefs, the arts are dismissed as a waste of time, and educational television programs have all but been replaced with mindless programming.

It is clear to me that there is an intentional dumbing-down of America.  My theory was confirmed when rapper B.o.B. went public with his firm belief that planet Earth was flat, and despite being false and ridiculous in every way, because B.o.B. is a celebrity, many people supported his claim.  It seems that if anyone famous makes an outrageous claim will have their claim supported without question.

It all starts and ends with the modern educational system here in The United States, which I personally believe is an epic failure designed to generate a profit for those who own such institutions.  Public schools are funded through the revenue of taxpayer dollars, and those who are seemingly fortunate enough to go to private schools seeking an elitist edge over those who attend public school fail to realize that the system is rigged in ways unseen.

Modern education focuses upon the mere memorization of facts; anyone who is able to memorize these facts can pass the tests with ease, pass, and graduate.  There is little or no instruction on theory, or the basic understanding of causes or affects.  I clearly remember being a student in third grade, and after my teacher was provided with a report of my IQ testing, more was expected of me than many of my classmates.  One morning, when asked what the answer to math question number 3 was, I replied, “I don’t know, it’s not written here in my book.”

To most, this might be construed as a sarcastic answer, but in reality it showed a large capacity for intellect, as I was able to recognize patterns from a very early age and notice that the first two math questions in each lesson had answers in red print.  I was never asked for the answer for the first two questions.  A few years ago, I had a chance encounter with my third grade teacher who said that although she has now retired from teaching, she still has yet to forget my insightful response.

The modern educational system teaches students what to think, what to believe, and if faced with a specific problem, the steps to take to solve that problem.  Ideally, instead of turning students into zombies by teaching them what to think, believe, and react, they should be taught to think and problem solve for themselves.  One of the greatest things my father ever told me was to think for myself, and never rely on or expect anyone else to do my thinking for me.

When I was a child, most of my time was spent reading, writing, visiting museums, taking notes, and learning everything I could.  My parents would often take me to participate in the arts, such as going to the opera, to see see shows on Broadway, etc.  In many regards I had the ideal intellectually-focused childhood, and this foundation of intellectualism is what was ultimately responsible for helping me to become the person that I am today.

Many of my friends spent their time at amusement parks, and while I can understand that these might be fun places to visit, they are, in my opinion, overly commercialized, over-priced tourist traps designed to generate wealth for the corporations that own them, nothing more.  When I was a child, if I had the choice between going to a theme park or an educational venue, I chose the latter.  Which would benefit me more in life?  Spending an excessive and unnecessary amount of money on short rides with long lines, overpriced junk food, and standing in line for hours, or being stimulated intellectually, and gaining perspective and knowledge that will last a lifetime.

Leading a life of intellectualism was quite unpopular with the culture that existed when I was a child, and in recent years, the media has portrayed a very dim view of intelligence, replacing the pursuit of knowledge and intellect with unnecessary material possessions.  When I first became interested in publishing my writing on the Internet, I did so in hopes of sharing knowledge, insight, observations, and ideas in hopes that it might benefit society in some way.  I had been using computers since age 6, even writing simple computer programs by age 10, so when HTML was developed, it became second nature to me.

It seems to me that most people are publishing crap on the Internet in hopes of becoming famous, getting a lot of attention, or some sort of following, thus the shunning and occasional complaints of how what I’m contributing is incongruent with todays status quo, which is a constant stream of stupidity, arrogance, and ignorance, making it increasingly difficult to find the intellectually-focused content I desire.

Colophon
This piece was inspired by Anti-Intellectualism and the “Dumbing Down” of America.

Asides
Ray Bradbury Never Went To College | Of Human Bondage And Addiction | The All or Nothing Pursuit of Wealth Destroys the Ground of Wealth: Society | I’m Not Lost.

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5 Comments on American Ignorance

  • Amy says:
    March 5, 2016 at 1:32 PM

    Hi Tom,
    While I can respect your point of view- we certainly have had different educational experiences. I was blessed to attend a truly fantastic public school staffed by some if the most enlightened, intelligent, and giving educators I have ever met. I keep in close touch with as many as a dozen of them to this day. In addition, even with the introduction of Common Core in our schools, my children are also richly blessed with a superior school distict, public as well as rural and by no means rich.
    I, too, sought knowledge from the shelves of my local library, researched genealogy with my father at the age of 9, and visited museums to numerous to count. I do not feel I did these things to satisfy an unfilled yearning, but instead, because my father and my early teachers had already lit a fire for learning that has never gone out.
    As far as amusement parks go– I feel those are experiences all children DESERVE to have. We take our children to our favorite park at least twice a summer. I believe there is a balance that needs to exist between fun and firm with regards to parenting. The memories and laughs as you play with your children are irreplaceable. This is my perspective.
    Thought provoking post. I, however, spend my days with the next generation, and am constantly amazed by how great and bright our young people are. We should not judge all on the observation of a few.
    Xoxo
    Amy

    Reply

  • Tracey Tobin says:
    March 3, 2016 at 12:11 PM

    Canada isn’t all that much better, at least as far as the education system goes. Little cookie-cutter factories, no two ways about it, and I can remember multiple instances during which I was being taught a subject by a teacher who knew little to nothing about it. I remember in the fourth grade I’d written a short story and my teacher argued with me about the proper way to use the punctuation. I don’t remember the exact sentence, but for sake of example we’ll say that I wrote:
    “You’re crazy!” she shouted.
    And my teacher insisted that it should be:
    “You’re crazy,” she shouted!
    Being a pretty-damn-well-red little frigger, I knew damn well that she was full of crap, but I was more or less told to “fix” it or I’d fail the assignment. *twitch twitch*

    It all depends on the teacher, of course. Yesterday my daughter (in grade primary/the “first” grade) and her class were asked to make boats out of aluminum foil to see if they would float or not. My daughter decided that she wanted to go against the grain and try to purposely make a boat that would sink (i.e. she crumpled her foil into a dense ball). A lot of teacher’s I’ve met would have forced her to start over and then spoken to me about how she was refusing to follow instructions, but luckily she has a GOOD teacher, who helped her attach a “mast” and encouraged her drop it in the water to see what would happen. I only hope she continues to get teachers like this one!

    Reply

    • Thomas says:
      March 3, 2016 at 7:16 PM

      You and your daughter sounds a lot like me when I was in school. I have always been well beyond my years as far as the American educational system was concerned. Teachers hated me.

      With all the standardization that has occurred in recent years here in the US, it has become a bureaucratic nightmare of rubber-stamping, one-size-fits all type of institution. In some regards, as far as higher education is concerned, there are a few colleges and universities which will grant a diploma to a student whose family has donated a substantial amount of money to the school. Trust me on this.

      Reply

  • Emilio Pasquale says:
    March 3, 2016 at 10:41 AM

    Well, I doubt you’ll get very many comments on here as I agree with you, there is a definite dumbing down of America. It is especially evident during this current political season where the populace are shown as simple lemmings, following each other in a rush off a cliff, without thought! And yes, I am a product of the public school system in the U.S.

    Reply

    • Thomas says:
      March 3, 2016 at 10:49 AM

      I admit, I am a product of a blatantly overpriced private school education here in the United States. I spent the majority of my time being autodidactic, seeking my own education reading at the local public library because my high school curriculum simply wasn’t enough. I compare todays presidential candidates to a group of children fighting over toys in a sandbox. It’s pathetic how America has lost its way and continued on a downward spiral of stupidity and lowering standards of what is considered acceptable behavior and intelligence.

      Reply

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