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Stupidity: A Real Problem or Not?

 
 
Khethil
 
Reply Tue 11 Aug, 2009 08:33 am
To what extent is this a problem in the US?
If it is, indeed, a problem - what might be the solution?

From time to time I see reports, surveys and/or articles detailing some of the most outlandish responses people give to - what I perceive to be - some very basic 'truths' about current events, the country we live in, history and so on. Here are some examples from Bill Maher's article New Rule: Smart President ≠ Smart Country - except where set off by brackets, all are direct quotes:

  • On the eve of the Iraq War, 69% of Americans thought Saddam Hussein was personally involved in 9/11. Four years later, 34% still did.


  • At a recent town-hall meeting [regarding Healthcare] in South Carolina, a man stood up and told his Congressman to "keep your government hands off my Medicare," which is kind of like driving cross country to protest highways.


  • ...polls show that a majority of Americans cannot name a single branch of government, or explain what the Bill of Rights is


  • ... 24% could not name the country America fought in the Revolutionary War.


  • More than two-thirds of Americans don't know what's in Roe v. Wade.


  • Two-thirds don't know what the Food and Drug Administration does.


  • Nearly half of Americans don't know that states have two senators and more than half can't name their congressman.


  • And among Republican governors, only 30% got their wife's name right on the first try [unable to discern if he's just being sarcastic here or using vocalized pauses to inject a point]


  • Sarah Palin says she would never apologize for America. Even though a Gallup poll says 18% of Americans think the sun revolves around the earth.


  • A third of Republicans believe Obama is not a citizen, and a third of Democrats believe that George Bush had prior knowledge of the 9/11 attacks


  • The average voter thinks foreign aid consumes 24% of our federal budget. It's actually less than 1%.


  • But here's one fun fact you can take away: did you know only about half of Americans are aware that Judaism is an older religion than Christianity? That's right, half of America looks at books called the Old Testament and the New Testament and cannot figure out which one came first.


Maher's text may be in dispute - I wouldn't swallow it all. But there are quite a few other sources which often speak of the same theme: We're not too smart. Is this political slandering or a real problem? I tend to think there's at least something to this issue since its come up so many times from many different sources.

Please discuss - and I'd ask that we try and stay centered on the theme "Is this a problem? Why? How?, etc".

Thanks
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Type: Discussion • Score: 1 • Views: 5,356 • Replies: 106
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kennethamy
 
  1  
Reply Tue 11 Aug, 2009 08:49 am
@Khethil,
But you are talking about ignorance, not about stupidity.
Justin
 
  1  
Reply Tue 11 Aug, 2009 09:24 am
@kennethamy,
kennethamy;82524 wrote:
But you are talking about ignorance, not about stupidity.

Technically speaking, if one is ignorant then they could also be considered somewhat stupid as well. As we are ignorant we tend to stupefy ourselves, don't we? I call it blind and stupid, Americas middle name.
kennethamy
 
  1  
Reply Tue 11 Aug, 2009 09:31 am
@Justin,
Justin;82531 wrote:
Technically speaking, if one is ignorant then they could also be considered somewhat stupid as well. As we are ignorant we tend to stupefy ourselves, don't we? I call it blind and stupid, Americas middle name.



I am ignorant of quantum mechanics. But would that make me stupid? If so, it would make a lot of people we consider pretty smart, stupid. How up are you on QM, by the way?
richrf
 
  1  
Reply Tue 11 Aug, 2009 09:36 am
@Justin,
Heck, if someone asked me who won last year's SuperBowl, I couldn't tell them. I also couldn't say who is #1 on the pop chart. However, I do know how to help people naturally relieve their arthritis or lower their blood pressure. Apparently, less people care about the things that I do know and apparently care more about things that I know nothing about.

It's always rough for me when people don't see it my way, but I give them slack. Smile

Rich
0 Replies
 
Justin
 
  1  
Reply Tue 11 Aug, 2009 09:40 am
@kennethamy,
kennethamy;82533 wrote:
I am ignorant of quantum mechanics. But would that make me stupid? If so, it would make a lot of people we consider pretty smart, stupid. How up are you on QM, by the way?

I agree, there's a lot to know. But there are basic things and common things as an America that Americans should know that most don't. Quantum Mechanics is a field of study, American is what we. So there are some fundamental differences here.

I'm sure ignorance is not limited to Americans but as a whole, I think Americans tend to place the burden upon our leaders and just sort of ride the wave hoping for a better tomorrow. That's what I call stupid. Instead of educating oneself or digging deeper into things or questioning things that need question, isn't a question of ignorance it's more stupidity than anything. America is sort of dumbed down on many fronts... Just take a look at our last president... now he was the ultimate poster boy for stupid Americans.
chad3006
 
  1  
Reply Tue 11 Aug, 2009 09:56 am
@Khethil,
I have wondered about this very question many times, but I know of no solution.

As to the why, I think of it in terms of an evolutionary process. A society promotes what it values, and apparently unending capital growth is what US society values, or at least for those who "guide" US society. Capitalist growth depends on the exploitation of new frontiers (check out "Turner's Frontier Thesis.") If you can't find one, you create one by "bombing them back to the stone-age," or letting them devolve into a third world state, where labor and other resources are cheap and easily exploited. Those who guide society simply promote the things that benefit them and starve the things that don't. There's no money for education or social services, but plenty-o-money for war or corporate bailouts.

I think US society feels threatened, but seems unaware of the threat. Like many threatened societies religious fundamentalism grows, and jingoist tendencies crop up too.

But, I take solace in knowing that people of third world countries are resourceful, and that all the wisdom on earth came from simple people somewhere. So, guess I don't really think it's a problem.
0 Replies
 
Caroline
 
  1  
Reply Tue 11 Aug, 2009 09:59 am
@Khethil,
Thank goodness not all Americans are the same as their leaders, same as any country really, UK too. As people we've all got alot to offer, alot of great things have come out of America, it is because it is so big that we see American business and corporates spread out through out the globe, such as McDonalds, but we have to remember that these things do not represent the people. Personally I believe that Bush was made president to serve a small group of people, (puppet on a string), and we must not forget that the average American are nice people and not stupid, I for one have gained alot from America.
0 Replies
 
EverlastingZen
 
  1  
Reply Tue 11 Aug, 2009 10:09 am
@kennethamy,
Stupidity: Marked by a lack of intelligence or care; foolish or careless: a stupid mistake.
kennethamy
 
  1  
Reply Tue 11 Aug, 2009 10:33 am
@Justin,
Justin;82537 wrote:
I agree, there's a lot to know. But there are basic things and common things as an America that Americans should know that most don't. Quantum Mechanics is a field of study, American is what we. So there are some fundamental differences here.

I'm sure ignorance is not limited to Americans but as a whole, I think Americans tend to place the burden upon our leaders and just sort of ride the wave hoping for a better tomorrow. That's what I call stupid. Instead of educating oneself or digging deeper into things or questioning things that need question, isn't a question of ignorance it's more stupidity than anything. America is sort of dumbed down on many fronts... Just take a look at our last president... now he was the ultimate poster boy for stupid Americans.


Aside from your political preferences, which are irrelevant, there is still an important distinction between stupidity and ignorance, although it may be true that sometimes stupidity causes ignorance. So, let's not confuse them. There is enough confusion as it is.
0 Replies
 
William
 
  1  
Reply Tue 11 Aug, 2009 10:39 am
@Justin,
Justin;82531 wrote:
Technically speaking, if one is ignorant then they could also be considered somewhat stupid as well. As we are ignorant we tend to stupefy ourselves, don't we? I call it blind and stupid, Americas middle name.


If I might offer there is a big difference in stupidity and ignorance though anyone is welcome to offer what they think. IMO ignorance is truly "not knowing any better"; where stupidity is knowing better but doing stupid sh*t anyway. Why? Hmm? Maybe that's why they call it stupid? It has no rhyme or reason. It's just stupid and maybe it is just to GET attention. Hmmm?:perplexed:

William
Catchabula
 
  1  
Reply Tue 11 Aug, 2009 10:43 am
@Khethil,
The opening post struck me as weird. A problem with potentially universal aspects is connected with the american people, there are no examples of human stupidity given beyond the borders of the States. I often noticed a strange kind of humility with the americans, they are often too critical towards themselves, while I can assure you that here in Belgium, Europe stupidity and ignorance are clearly present too. But there's another side to this, we do have good schools etc., and this equilibrium wouldn't make me see stupidity as a problem. But why are americans seeing / experiencing it as such? There must be some kind of psychological profile behind his...
Justin
 
  1  
Reply Tue 11 Aug, 2009 10:45 am
@William,
William;82552 wrote:
If I might offer there is a big difference in stupidity and ignorance though anyone is welcome to offer what they think. IMO ignorance is truly "not knowing any better"; where stupidity is knowing better but doing stupid sh*t anyway. Why? Hmm? Maybe that's why they call it stupid? It has no rhyme or reason. It's just stupid and maybe it is just to GET attention. Hmmm?:perplexed:

Ignorance is not wanting to know any better, not desiring to know any better which IMO is stupid. Ignorance is a stupid choice. It would seem that one has to be somewhat stupid to claim ignorance. Ignorance with today's resources and transparency is no excuse for stupidity. So it can be seen both ways.
kennethamy
 
  1  
Reply Tue 11 Aug, 2009 10:52 am
@Justin,
Justin;82555 wrote:
Ignorance is not wanting to know any better, not desiring to know any better


I think you had better look up the word, "ignorance". That is not what it means. (I thought that might be the problem. You are ignorant of what the word "ignorance" means).
Justin
 
  1  
Reply Tue 11 Aug, 2009 10:58 am
@kennethamy,
kennethamy;82557 wrote:
I think you had better look up the word, "ignorance". That is not what it means. (I thought that might be the problem. You are ignorant of what the word "ignorance" means).

Ignorance is open to interpretation, just like anything else.

Quote:
Ignorance is the state in which one lacks knowledge, is unaware of something or, chooses to subjectively ignore information. This should not be confused with being unintelligent, as one's level of intelligence and level of education or general awareness are not the same. The word "Ignorant" is an adjective describing a person in the state of being unaware. The term may be used specifically (e.g. "One can be an expert in math, and totally ignorant of history.") or generally (e.g. "an ignorant person.") -- although the second use is used less as a descriptive and more as an imprecise personal insult.
chooses to subjectively ignore information - This a choice which IMO is stupid.
Quote:

Stupidity is distinct from irrationality because stupidity denotes an incapability or unwillingness to properly consider the relevant information. It is frequently used as a pejorative and consequently has a negative connotation. The term has fallen out of favor in medical journals as it is seen as a generic term used to describe a wide variety of conditions.
Stupid - unwillingness to properly consider the relevant information
Ignorant - chooses to subjectively ignore information.

Wow, apples don't fall far from the tree do they. Birds of a feather flock together. The ignorant and stupid seem to have quite a relationship in context.

They are different words with different dictionary meanings but they are also very similar. Besides, they are only words to describe a state of mind and the state of mind is much the same.
0 Replies
 
William
 
  1  
Reply Tue 11 Aug, 2009 11:05 am
@William,
William;82552 wrote:
If I might offer there is a big difference in stupidity and ignorance though anyone is welcome to offer what they think. IMO ignorance is truly "not knowing any better"; where stupidity is knowing better but doing stupid sh*t anyway. Why? Hmm? Maybe that's why they call it stupid? It has no rhyme or reason. It's just stupid and maybe it is just to GET attention. Hmmm?:perplexed:

William


Let me offer an example of the above statement. Ignorance is engaging in sexual intercourse when no knowledge is known about "fertility cycles" in women; Stupidity is engaging in sexual intercourse with a rubber in your pocket.

William
chad3006
 
  1  
Reply Tue 11 Aug, 2009 11:12 am
@Catchabula,
Catchabula;82554 wrote:
The opening post struck me as weird. A problem with potentially universal aspects is connected with the american people, there are no examples of human stupidity given beyond the borders of the States. I often noticed a strange kind of humility with the americans, they are often too critical towards themselves, while I can assure you that here in Belgium, Europe stupidity and ignorance are clearly present too. But there's another side to this, we do have good schools etc., and this equilibrium wouldn't make me see stupidity as a problem. But why are americans seeing / experiencing it as such? There must be some kind of psychological profile behind his...


I think there is a perception that the "stupid" people are becoming more powerful. Some in the US feel that we are on the verge of something like the Nazi rise to power in Germany.

Or perhaps it is just narcissism.
0 Replies
 
Justin
 
  1  
Reply Tue 11 Aug, 2009 11:15 am
@William,
William;82559 wrote:
Ignorance is engaging in sexual intercourse when no knowledge is known about "fertility cycles" in women; Stupidity is engaging in sexual intercourse with a rubber in your pocket.

LOL, sure, I agree. But with the Internet and dictionaries and the resources available today I'd have to say ignorance is in no way an excuse for stupidity. They are very closely related in a lot of ways. They can both be used as excuses for the other which is also very common of humans. One word to describe another.

I do understand what you all mean though and do admit to being stupid and ignorant at times myself. I think that's human nature and not limited to Americans but we do have quite the reputation of flaunting our stupidity in the world. LOL.

Ok, so back to the original post and the thread start, how do we change it? Is it a problem? Why? How?

It is a problem IMHO and I think it starts with Religious beliefs. Ignorant religious beliefs that lead to stupidity in action. God telling Bush to go to war could be an example. Same goes for God telling the Christians to slaughter the Muslims. These are examples of ignorance which make people stupid. There's plenty of examples and I'm sure it's not limited to Americans or American politics.

The only reason I drag religion and politics into this is because they are the two most ingnorantly stupid examples that I can think of... both of which cause fear and yes, America fears.

-> This thread certainly took off quickly. Way to go Khethil! Laughing
0 Replies
 
Catchabula
 
  1  
Reply Tue 11 Aug, 2009 11:24 am
@Khethil,
0 Replies
 
chad3006
 
  1  
Reply Tue 11 Aug, 2009 11:31 am
@Khethil,
It makes no difference to me what word we use (stupid or ignorant). If we choose to use the word ignorance, I think we must realize that some of this is a forced ignorance. That takes some energy on the part of the ignoramus. Constant distractions, like action movies, beer, (not that I don't like the occasional brew), and "multi-media" devices help reinforce the ignorance. Of course, I live in Texas, and that's is my perspective. :bigsmile:
 

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