The United States of Stupid. I mean, really, REALLY stupid ...

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6079_Smith_W

Mmm... no.Sorry. Creationists don't have special brains.

It is actually a function common to all our minds.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Compartmentalization_%28psychology%29

Intelligent people are capable of doing it, just as non-intelligent people. It isn't something specific to any group.

Anyone can do it, for example intelligent people who think Americans (or Russians, or whatever) are particularly evil or stupid, and go looking for things to buttress their confirmation bias.

Michael Moriarity Michael Moriarity's picture

6079_Smith_W wrote:

Mmm... no.Sorry. Creationists don't have special brains.

It is actually a function common to all our minds.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Compartmentalization_%28psychology%29

Intelligent people are capable of doing it, just as non-intelligent people. It isn't something specific to any group.

Anyone can do it, for example intelligent people who think Americans (or Russians, or whatever) are particularly evil or stupid, and go looking for things to buttress their confirmation bias.

I didn't mean to say that their brains are different. What I did mean to say is that their cognitive function is, to me, frighteningly detached from the real world as it is revealed by science, which has been my primary guide to reality from about 8 years of age. And that certainly applies to the examples you gave, as well as creationists, scientologists, and lots of other groups. Still, I consider it a negative to have to live in the same society with people so immune to the evidence of their own senses and reason. To me, it is a clear good to reduce the size and influence of such groups. Of course, this must be done by persuasion, not force.

6079_Smith_W

Again, EVERYONE is capable of doing this in some way or another.

Trying to sell it as something particular to one group, or implying that by getting rid of certain people (by force or persuasion, if you will)  we can erase it is itself an example of that kind of compartmentalization.

 

Michael Moriarity Michael Moriarity's picture

6079_Smith_W wrote:

Again, EVERYONE is capable of doing this in some way or another.

Trying to sell it as something particular to one group, or implying that by getting rid of certain people (by force or persuasion, if you will)  we can erase it is itself an example of that kind of compartmentalization.

Not funny, Smith, and not accurate.

6079_Smith_W

It wasn't intended to  be funny. Nor was it intended to be a slur. But implying that this is something specific to a certain group isn't accurate, even though we all project that kind of stuff.

Cody87

Michael Moriarity wrote:

6079_Smith_W wrote:

Again, EVERYONE is capable of doing this in some way or another.

Trying to sell it as something particular to one group, or implying that by getting rid of certain people (by force or persuasion, if you will)  we can erase it is itself an example of that kind of compartmentalization.

Not funny, Smith, and not accurate.

Smith is correct.

Religion is only one manifestation of the well-documented phenomenon where humans ignore or rationalize away facts they don't like while simultaneously subjecting "facts" they do like to almost no scutiny.

http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2011/03/denial-science-chris-mooney

We're not driven only by emotions, of course—we also reason, deliberate. But reasoning comes later, works slower—and even then, it doesn't take place in an emotional vacuum. Rather, our quick-fire emotions can set us on a course of thinking that's highly biased, especially on topics we care a great deal about.

https://youarenotsosmart.com/2011/06/10/the-backfire-effect/

”When examining evidence relevant to a given belief, people are inclined to see what they expect to see, and conclude what they expect to conclude…for desired conclusions, we ask ourselves, ‘Can I believe this?,’ but for unpalatable conclusions we ask, ‘Must I believe this?’”

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Confirmation_bias

https://www.brainpickings.org/2014/08/27/willful-blindness-margaret-heff...

Literally everyone is subconsciously inclined to ignore facts that don't support their worldview. Very few notice it happening or attempt to fight this urge, and even when you're aware of it it's still hard to overcome. I certainly know athiests who suffer from more cognitive dissonance and poor evaluation of "evidence" than any of the many Christians I've ever met.

Some people are literally convinced that Hillary Clinton is behind the murder/assassination of Seth Rich and dozens of other people. And some people are literally convinced that Donald Trump would be the second coming of Hilter. There is no point trying to argue in favour of Clinton to the former group nor any point in trying to argue in favour of Trump to the latter. Likewise, there's no point bringing up Clinton's war crimes to someone who genuinely believe Clinton represents their interests, nor is there any point bringing up Trump's foibles to someone who genuinely believe Trump wants to "Make America Great Again."

Anyway, the bottom line is, a creationist's belief in God is just one manifestation of an extremely common (read: shared by all humans) human tendency to instinctively reject/rationalize away difficult truths even in the face of significant evidence that supports that truth.

Michael Moriarity Michael Moriarity's picture

I'm really not interested in carrying this on much further, but Cody seems to think that my concern is with religion as such, which it is not. There are plenty of members of almost all religions who accept the basic facts that science has revealed. I was raised as a Catholic, and not one of the priests and nuns who taught me denied evolution, or claimed that the earth is only 6,000 years old. It is the denial of very well proven facts that I am concerned about, not the holding of religious beliefs.

Cody87

As I was not clear, my central point was supposed to be that it is not only the religious that deny very well proven facts. All humans do it in some way or other, at least unless they are consciously aware of the bias and fight to minimize it.

Michael Moriarity Michael Moriarity's picture

And my point is that those who deny very well proven facts ought to be opposed, whether they are religious or not. It just seems that a lot of the most visible deniers of such facts are religious.

quizzical

Michael Moriarity wrote:

6079_Smith_W wrote:

Are you kidding?

Belief in creationism as some assumed marker for stupidity.

Well, I wouldn't call it a marker for stupidity, but it certainly does indicate something drastically different about the mental functioning of creationists. They have abandoned all empirical evidence in favour of an ancient system of myths. That's not stupidity, but it is something pretty terrifying to me.

watched a docu show the other night on studies by UVIC and another university, forget which one. they went to the Himalayas and studied Buddhist monk's brainwaves. they got them  playing video games and studied brain waves while they learned. then they had them meditate and then learn how to play other video games. they all were way better at learning after meditating than without meditation.

Michael Moriarity Michael Moriarity's picture

quizzical wrote:

watched a docu show the other night on studies by UVIC and another university, forget which one. they went to the Himalayas and studied Buddhist monk's brainwaves. they got them  playing video games and studied brain waves while they learned. then they had them meditate and then learn how to play other video games. they all were way better at learning after meditating than without meditation.

I admire Buddhism for a number of reasons.

First, it has exactly zero dogma. There is nothing you need to believe in order to be a Buddhist.

Second, it is practice based rather than faith based. You aren't asked to accept anything on faith, you are simply offered a variety of meditative practices, and told that some of them may improve the functioning of your mind if you do them regularly.

The Four Noble Truths, which are the equivalent of the dogmas in many other religions, are merely explanations of what the practice is intended to do, and how it works, and are much more psychological than religious in nature.

Rev Pesky

6079_Smith_W wrote:

Are you kidding?

Belief in creationism as some assumed marker for stupidity.

What I said:

Quote:
However, I will admit this is not your garden variety stupidity. It is something far worse, that is, wilful ignorance.

So I did not say that belief in creationism was a marker for stupidity.

And as far as religion and belief in creationism, the evidence from the Gallop poll I posted.

Quote:

  • Religiousness relates most strongly to these views, which is not surprising, given that this question deals directly with God's role in human origins. The percentage of Americans who accept the creationist viewpoint ranges from 69% among those who attend religious services weekly to 23% among those who seldom or never attend.
  • Educational attainment is also related to these attitudes, with belief in the creationist perspective dropping from 57% among Americans with no more than a high school education to less than half that (27%) among those with a college degree. Those with college degrees are, accordingly, much more likely to choose one of the two evolutionary explanations.
  • Younger Americans -- who are typically less religious than their elders -- are less likely to choose the creationist perspective than are older Americans. Americans aged 65 and older -- the most religious of any age group -- are most likely to choose the creationist perspective.

So the level of religious belief and lack of education are at least a part of the denial of evolution.

As far as Russia and it's official atheism, if you look up Lysenko you'll find that his pseudo-science had little to do with atheism, but a lot do to with ideology, which you have already noted as a factor. In that respect then, Staliin and Phillip Johnson are on the same page.

As to confirmation bias, it certainly exists, but...

Quote:
This tendency to give more attention and weight to data that support our beliefs than we do to contrary data is especially pernicious when our beliefs are little more than prejudices. If our beliefs are firmly established on solid evidence and valid confirmatory experiments, the tendency to give more attention and weight to data that fit with our beliefs should not lead us astray as a rule. Of course, if we become blinded to evidence truly refuting a favored hypothesis, we have crossed the line from reasonableness to closed-mindedness.

In other words, just because confirmation bias exists, it doesn't mean that what you believe is wrong. If you believe in gravity, and use the evidence of things dropped from a height to confirm your belief, that may be confirmation bias, but it also may just be correct.

Mr. Magoo

Quote:
Now I am curious.

Did anyone ever say that? the 1897 bill doesn't seem to be based on religion at all.

Fair enough.  Everyone put a big mental asterisk beside my post about this until such time as I perhaps stumble upon what I read originally.

Maybe it was this?

Except that makes no mention of what I recall (specifically, the assertion that God wouldn't make an imperfect number).

6079_Smith_W

Rev Pesky wrote:

In other words, just because confirmation bias exists, it doesn't mean that what you believe is wrong. If you believe in gravity, and use the evidence of things dropped from a height to confirm your belief, that may be confirmation bias, but it also may just be correct.

I don't think any opponent of vaccination could have said it better.

So if you have the dumb luck to get it right that makes it okay to be closed-minded and ignore evidence, or fail to check to see if it is causation rather than correlation?

If Hubble had settled the nature of the universe using a coin flip rather than observation of cephied variables, and happened to get it right, would that have been okay too?

Might be okay for folk remedies, but I don't think that would pass peer review. And since you are raising willfully ignoring the scientific method and evidence as a big deal, If you call people on it when it suits your purpose, and excuse it in others, What is that but compartmentalization?

 

Rev Pesky

6079_Smith_W wrote:

Rev Pesky wrote:

In other words, just because confirmation bias exists, it doesn't mean that what you believe is wrong. If you believe in gravity, and use the evidence of things dropped from a height to confirm your belief, that may be confirmation bias, but it also may just be correct.

I don't think any opponent of vaccination could have said it better.

So if you have the dumb luck to get it right that makes it okay to be closed-minded and ignore evidence, or fail to check to see if it is causation rather than correlation? ...

You do seem to have a problem either reading or understanding. Please quote where I said one should ignore evidence.

In fact the article I posted specifically said (and this portion of it was highlighted by me):

Quote:
If our beliefs are firmly established on solid evidence and valid confirmatory experiments, the tendency to give more attention and weight to data that fit with our beliefs should not lead us astray as a rule.

What part of 'firmly established on solid evidence and valid confirmatory experiments' did you not understand?

Given that context, what I said further about confirmation bias makes complete sense. What I was trying to get at, and perhaps this was a bit deep for you, was that throwing around 'confirmation bias' as an argument seems to deny that there is, in fact, some things that are true.

Of course one should keep an open mind, but, as the old saying goes, not so open our brains fall out.

6079_Smith_W

Confirmation bias IS ignoring evidence.

You just said it might be present, but you might also get it right. Which means.... what? That you aren't displaying the same mental sleight of hand our religious friends are?

Fact is, I agree with you about the "not so open" part. Which is why I question being so black and white about it when it comes to people who happen to be creationist. Not all of them are brainwashed zombies, or even all that dogmatic about it, just as not all Americans are idiots because they don't know a factiod you think is important.

Quote:

What I was trying to get at, and perhaps this was a bit deep for you, was that throwing around 'confirmation bias' as an argument seems to deny that there is, in fact, some things that are true.

If I brought up compartmentalization in order to question the foundation of reality you might be right. But if you scan back I raised it in response to a claim that certain people think differently than the rest of us. In fact, compartrmentalization is something accepted as true by psychologists, something common to all of us, and more ubiquitous than some might think. The premise of this thread - forming a theory and looking for stuff to back it up, and questioning anything that doesn't fit - is a classic example.

 

 

ikosmos ikosmos's picture

"Learning to Be Stupid in the Culture of Cash" by Luciana Bohne (August 2003!!)

... is a good, short little essay on the links between the United States of Stupid and the United States of Atrocity.

Quote:

As the more people read, the less they know and the more indoctrinated they become, you get this national enabling stupidity to attain which they go into bottomless pools of debt. If it weren't tragic, it would be funny.

Meanwhile, this expensive stupidity facilitates US funding of the bloody work of death squads, juntas, and terror regimes abroad. It permits the war we are waging - an unfair, illegal, unjust, illogical, and expensive war, which announces to the world the failure of our intelligence and, by the way, the creeping weakness of our economic system. Every man, woman, and child killed by a bomb, bullet, famine, or polluted water is a murder - and a war crime. And it signals the impotence of American education to produce brains equipped with the bare necessities for democratic survival: analyzing and asking questions.

Let me put it succinctly: I don't think serious education is possible in America. Anything you touch in the annals of knowledge is a foe of this system of commerce and profit, run amok. The only education that can be permitted is if it acculturates to the status quo, as happens in the expensive schools, or if it produces people to police and enforce the status quo, as in the state school where I teach. Significantly, at my school, which is a third-tier university, servicing working-class, first-generation college graduates who enter lower-echelon jobs in the civil service, education, or middle management, the favored academic concentrations are communications, criminal justice, and social work--basically how to mystify, cage, and control the masses.


6079_Smith_W

You could look at a meta list (I first went to The Times Higher Education list)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/College_and_university_rankings

But I'd say a telling one is also the oldest and most respected, which happens to be published by the Chinese government in order to measure the gap between their institutions and "world class" ones.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Academic_Ranking_of_World_Universities

Feel free to check out their results. Western bias, maybe?

 

 

 

ikosmos ikosmos's picture

lol. What's the point in ranking universities if the student population - in the USA for example - includes a large minority of "brain drain" intellects from outside the country? The Empire sucks all wealth - including intellectual wealth - from the rest of the Planet. This proves, what, exactly?

Good luck with that, Smith.

Rev Pesky

6079_Smith_W wrote:
...Fact is, I agree with you about the "not so open" part. Which is why I question being so black and white about it when it comes to people who happen to be creationist.

Happen to be creationist? How, pray tell, did they 'happen' to become creationists?

6079_Smith_W wrote:
...Not all of them are brainwashed zombies, or even all that dogmatic about it, just as not all Americans are idiots because they don't know a factiod you think is important.

As I've said numerous times, and as you've constantly ignored, I attrbute the belief in divine creation to wilful ignorance. That is not brainwashing, although I suppose one could call it self-brainwashing.

Not dogmatic about it? You mean when they take school districts to court to prevent the teaching of evolution, when they take school districts to court to force them to teach 'intelligent design', when they take school districts to court to force them to call evolution 'just another theory', when they take school districts to court to force them to provide a 'balanced' perspective between evolution and divine creation, that's not dogmatic?

That's the strangest kind of non-dogmatism I've every heard of.

6079_Smith_W wrote:
... In fact, compartrmentalization is something accepted as true by psychologists, something common to all of us, and more ubiquitous than some might think. The premise of this thread - forming a theory and looking for stuff to back it up, and questioning anything that doesn't fit - is a classic example.

As is the other side of that coin, ignoring the evidence that exists, constantly refuting arguments that weren't made rather than addressing those that were, indicate a problematic psychology.

6079_Smith_W

Why do you think the Chinese government funds that list? So they can export their best to America? You do realize there is a long game being played here, eh?

But really, my point is that you are getting progressively more loose and inaccurate with your term, to the point of absurdity.

Your author doesn't think serious education is possible? I get the point she is making, but framed in such absolute terms I can't see how it can be taken seriously. The question I have is why she is teaching, if that is how she sees that system.

 

 

6079_Smith_W

Rev Pesky wrote:

As is the other side of that coin, ignoring the evidence that exists, constantly refuting arguments that weren't made rather than addressing those that were, indicate a problematic psychology.

Nice that we can agree on something.

Of course I am aware we have different perspectives, but I'm glad you agree with me that compartmentalization is something that we all are capable of. This isn't actually about "stupid Americans" and religious people.

Nor is it in most cases about "problematic psychology", if you go back to the wikipedia listing. It does talk about some people who may have a borderline personality disorder, particularly those who divide the world into good and bad, but for most of us compartmentalization is just be a defense mechanism for dealing with things which naturally conflict.

 

 

Rev Pesky

6079_Smith_W wrote:

Rev Pesky wrote:

As is the other side of that coin, ignoring the evidence that exists, constantly refuting arguments that weren't made rather than addressing those that were, indicate a problematic psychology.

Nice that we can agree on something.

Of course I am aware we have different perspectives, but I'm glad you agree with me that compartmentalization is something that we all are capable of...

That's it? You've narrowed your whole argument down to whether humans are capable of compartmentalization?

6079_Smith_W

Narrowed? Why do you think that?

And I'm not the one making the argument - specifically that certain groups of people are stupid or willfully ignorant.

I just pointed out that the argument doesn't have much of a foundation, and that oddly enough, the argument itself is an example of the selective thinking that others are being accused of.

 

 

ikosmos ikosmos's picture

6079_Smith_W wrote:
Your author doesn't think serious education is possible? I get the point she is making, but framed in such absolute terms I can't see how it can be taken seriously. The question I have is why she is teaching, if that is how she sees that system.

I liked her quote first of all because she linked the stupid with the violent. And I hadn't done that myself, so I found it insightful. The most American thing in the world, quoting myself, is an act of senseless violence. Military people even treat it as a sick joke, i.e., "Kill 'em all and let God sort 'em out."  She writes about a "national enabling stupidity" and how educated Americans - not simply those poorly educated - don't ask the most basic questions about their regime and society. It IS a national enabling stupidity. What else?

This "not asking questions" enables the violence of the regime. And we all know how appalling that violence is.

Secondly, her claims are what we might call structural, or aggregate, or something like that. I thought you'd understand this sort of thing. There's the rule, and there's the exception. Brecht has a great piece about this.

Of course some critical thinkers get through. There are American babblers just as there are Canadian babblers. But they're vastly outnumbered, are unable to to change the direction of this brutal juggernaut, their left candidates are sabotaged by the status quo (Sanders screwed by the DNC a very good case in point), and so on.

Serious education means the masses. That's who changes the world. And they're not getting it.

Your last question I think you know the answer to already. She has to pay the bills like everyone else.

Supplemental: other means have to be found. For example, the left needs to create its own institutions. The long game, to use your expression.

Rev Pesky

6079_Smith_W wrote:

Narrowed? Why do you think that?

And I'm not the one making the argument - specifically that certain groups of people are stupid or willfully ignorant.

I just pointed out that the argument doesn't have much of a foundation, and that oddly enough, the argument itself is an example of the selective thinking that others are being accused of.

In fact I posted the evidence that suports the wilful ignorance claim. You chose to ignore it, perhaps a a result of 'confirmation bias'.

I mean, if you found people that didn't believe the world was round, how would you charactize their world view? They would have to be either stupid or wilfully ignorant. I don't know what other options there are.

When it comes to evolution, the central theory of life on earth, how would you characterize those who refuse to believe that evolution happens? In this case we are talking about a nation where scientific knowledge is widespread, so just plain old ignorance doesn't do it.

As far as compartmentalization, it doesn't really apply to those who favour 'scientific' creationism. In fact it's quite the opposite. After all, why does 'scientific' creationism exist? It exists because of people who can't bring themselvs to believe evolution happens, yet at the same time, realize they don't really have the courage of their convictions. They invent 'scientific' creationism to provide a scientific basis for their religious belief.

Believe me on this. I know whereof I speak. My father was a very intelligent person, who couldn't bring himself to believe that evolution happens. At the same time, his faith couldn't convince his brain to compartmentalize. So he sought after a scientific basis for his believe system. The church that he attended (Alliance Tabernacle - Stephen Harper's choice of denomination as well) would often put on evening programs where some 'scientifically' trained person would present creationism as science.

Now, if he had been able to compartmentalize, none of that would have been necessary. It also shows why I believe religion has something to do with this subject (other than the evidence I've already presented).

But how do you characterize a country in which nearly 4 out of 5 people do not believe that humans evolved without the hand of God (a majority of whom believe that humans were created as we find them today)? Perhaps you could suggest an adjective that isn't either stupidity or wilful ignorance.

6079_Smith_W

In what way do I ignore it? I am simply saying that we all do it to a greater or lesser degree.

And I am saying that doing so in any one thing - even lack of acceptance of evolution -  does not make one stupid. You said yourself that your father was an intelligent person.

If you really think that such a narrow thing can make the difference between intelligence and stupidity who is the real fool here?

(and no, I don't actually think you are one, but these things you are using as supposed markers for it are absurd)

Mr. Magoo

What if we used the term "otherwise intelligent"?

Quote:
"I know that God wrote the Bible, because it says so right in the Bible", claimed the otherwise intelligent adult while successfully navigating a car through city streets on his way to gainful employment.

 

Rev Pesky

6079_Smith_W wrote:

In what way do I ignore it? I am simply saying that we all do it to a greater or lesser degree.

And I am saying that doing so in any one thing - even lack of acceptance of evolution -  does not make one stupid. You said yourself that your father was an intelligent person.

If you really think that such a narrow thing can make the difference between intelligence and stupidity who is the real fool here?

(and no, I don't actually think you are one, but these things you are using as supposed markers for it are absurd)

Again you dodge. How about 'willful ignorance'. That is what I call it, and that is what it is. Willful ignorance has nothing to do with intelligence. It is the closing of the mind so that it doesn't have to accept that which it doesn't want to know.

You know, the old covering of the ears and the calling out of 'la-la-la-la-la I can't hear you'. That is what we're talking about here.

One can be very intelligent, and still very willfully ignorant. At least the very stupid have an excuse. The intelligent don't.

Timebandit Timebandit's picture

I don't know that that's true across the board, Rev P. There can be a variety of pressures that can make someone unwilling to face facts. The sheer stress of the unknown or the idea of no longer being part of the comminity of deluded people that you've been part of your whole life can make some people unwilling to upend their own existential apple cart. Sometimes the choice to acknowledge reality is harder than it looks.

I don't think anyone's mind has ever been changed by being called stupid, whether it's true or not. I find the whole line of argument unproductive.

6079_Smith_W

But Rev, the question in this thread is whether a specific group of people - Americans -  are stupid.

Never mind that you aren't touching on anything that isn't common in a number of other nations, when it comes to questions of truly stupid willful blindness I wouldn't class lack of belief in evolution as high as a number of things where you can connect the dots to a lack of self-preservation - like refusing to accept climate change, or refusing to see that a political party you support is actually working against you.

Nor even a real common one - refusal to see that something you like - be it a person or alcohol or sugary food - is really bad for you.

I know evolution is a big red flag, and rightly so. But I think some make it a much bigger deal than it actually is. It actually has very little connection to how you treat other people, or whether you have the good sense to look after yourself. It isn't even a hard indicator for politics. As I mentioned already, there are countries in the world where belief in creationism is even more common than in the states. Surely you aren't saying they are all stupid people.

And if you are saying the intelligent have no excuse, well I guess we have moved off the topic of alleged stupidity, but... no excuse for what? And how does this tie back to this thesis about Americans?

ikosmos ikosmos's picture

I'm not the least surprised that some here are missing the forest for the trees. Maybe it's willful stupidity. lol. Whatever it is, just because the USA is the land of the stupid (and of Forget and of Atrocity and of ...) , in no way do I use a brush and paint all Americans as stupid. It's their system, their regime, their social arrangements, their economic system, their Empire, ffs, that I aim at. Their intellectual life creates "stupid".[I've even added some information - from American intellectual Robert Proctor  - in this thread on how stupid is cultivated in American social life. Agnotology. And others, like American Noam Chomsky, has elaborated on this for decades. ]

My USA is the USA of Tom Paine, Isaac Asimov, Gore Vidal, Mark Twain, Alice Walker, Malcolm X, and many, many others. These are not stupid people. Hell, Henry Kissinger, the War Criminal, isn't stupid. But he still presided over the Land of the Stupid.

Stupidity is cultivated for political reasons. It's how this Empire works.

Carry on.

6079_Smith_W

That isn't the way you were spinning it upthread, ikosmos, but even so that isn't anything particular to the states either.

Rev Pesky

6079_Smith_W wrote:

But Rev, the question in this thread is whether a specific group of people - Americans -  are stupid.

Never mind that you aren't touching on anything that isn't common in a number of other nations, when it comes to questions of truly stupid willful blindness I wouldn't class lack of belief in evolution as high as a number of things where you can connect the dots to a lack of self-preservation - like refusing to accept climate change, or refusing to see that a political party you support is actually working against you.

Nor even a real common one - refusal to see that something you like - be it a person or alcohol or sugary food - is really bad for you.

I know evolution is a big red flag, and rightly so. But I think some make it a much bigger deal than it actually is. It actually has very little connection to how you treat other people, or whether you have the good sense to look after yourself. It isn't even a hard indicator for politics. As I mentioned already, there are countries in the world where belief in creationism is even more common than in the states. Surely you aren't saying they are all stupid people.

And if you are saying the intelligent have no excuse, well I guess we have moved off the topic of alleged stupidity, but... no excuse for what? And how does this tie back to this thesis about Americans?

Do you ever wonder why there are superbugs?

Rev Pesky

6079_Smith_W wrote:

But Rev, the question in this thread is whether a specific group of people - Americans -  are stupid.

Never mind that you aren't touching on anything that isn't common in a number of other nations, when it comes to questions of truly stupid willful blindness I wouldn't class lack of belief in evolution as high as a number of things where you can connect the dots to a lack of self-preservation - like refusing to accept climate change, or refusing to see that a political party you support is actually working against you...

You won't be surprised to find out that the USA is one of the major centres of climate denial, and in fact...

Poll: U.S. Leads The World… In Climate Denial

Quote:
A poll of 20 countries and over 16,000 people has found that the United States leads the world when it comes to climate denial. That result is based on two questions asked by the British survey company Ipsos Mori in its first ever Global Trends Survey. The poll, conducted between September and October last year (2013 - Rev), analyzed views from around the world on a variety of issues, including science and technology, privacy, the environment, health, and government.

...The poll found that 52 percent of Americans agreed with the statement “The climate change we are currently seeing is a natural phenomenon that happens from time to time.” India was tied with the U.S. in this belief, and China came in a close second, with 51 percent of respondents agreeing.

...The United States also came in first for disagreement with the statement “The climate change we are currently seeing is largely the result of human activity.”

...When asked if we are headed for environmental disaster unless we change our habits quickly, just 57 percent of Americans said yes, while 91 percent of Chinese said yes.

...Earlier this month, the U.S.-based Heartland Institute held its 9th International Conference on Climate Change, proudly advertising it as the “biggest gathering of global warming skeptics in the world.” The conference took place in Las Vegas as the thirsty region suffers through the driest 14-year period on record, and Lake Mead, which supplies the city with 90 percent of its water, hit its lowest level yet. Some sessions at the conference included “How Reliable Are Temperature Records” and “Combating Climate Myths With Science and Facts.”

As it turns out, the USA is not only the center of the 'scientific creationism' universe, they are also the heartland of climate change denial.

And by the way, climate change denial and evolution denial are not that unrelated. Of course it's willful ignorance in both cases, but there is also the idea pushed by the climate chnage deniers that we can 'adapt' to a changed climate via evolution. This betrays a fundamental misunderstanding of evolution, which works well in a country where denial of evolution is the norm.

bagkitty bagkitty's picture

Rev Pesky wrote:

Do you ever wonder why there are superbugs?

I thought that was already settled, they hitched a ride along with Kal-El when Krypton was destroyed.

6079_Smith_W

Rev Pesky wrote:

And by the way, climate change denial and evolution denial are not that unrelated. Of course it's willful ignorance in both cases, but there is also the idea pushed by the climate chnage deniers that we can 'adapt' to a changed climate via evolution. This betrays a fundamental misunderstanding of evolution, which works well in a country where denial of evolution is the norm.

So they both deny evolution and at the same time claim they can adapt to climate change via evolution? Never mind that you have shown no connection at all (nor any evidence) that makes no sense.

And if they are stupid, how much more stupid are the rest of us who accept climate science, but continue to drive cars and eat peaches that are flown halfway around the world?

Again, my point is that these things you are pulling out of the air as supposed markers for stupidity arent indicators at all, nor are they things that particularly set Americans apart. And in the case of not being familiar with history, it is actually kind of elitist. Aside from the whole false idea that not having formal education makes one stupid, why should many Americans be more familiar with Tom Paine than Santa Anna, or Crazy Horse, or Frederick Douglass?

ikosmos seems to be offering examples that that system is what makes people stupid, so you are actually arguing counter to one another.

Though I suppose that contradiction doesn't matter, because the goal here isn't any kind of cohesive argument, but rather, pulling out whatever we can to make other people look dumb, and ourselves, by contrast, very very smart.

As has been pointed out already, does getting your jollies in this kind of an exercise seem like a good demonstration and a progressive use of our superior intelligence to you?

(edit)

And ikosmos, who is ignoring the political cultivation of ignorance? Though as I said in my first comment, the Americans aren't the only ones who do it. They aren't even its most masterful practitioners.

 

 

 

ikosmos ikosmos's picture

6079_Smith_W wrote:
And ikosmos, who is ignoring the political cultivation of ignorance? Though as I said in my first comment, the Americans aren't the only ones who do it. They aren't even its most masterful practitioners.

I started this thread by quoting one of the most brilliant American SF writers in history. Asimov noted the thread of stupid running through public life in the USA. Plenty of others have followed his lead. One of the best American social critics these days - Henry Giroux, who has wisely fled to Canada, btw - writes about the stupid all the time. Ditto with Chris Hedges.  One of my absolute favourite quotes on this is from Gore Vidal. "We live in the United States of Forget. Nobody remembers anything." The list goes on and on and on.

You just don't get it. When the most brilliant American minds write about the stupid, endlessly, what more evidence do you want? Do you think these people hate their own country?

Give your head a shake. The United States of Stupid is a real phenomena, and sometimes it's funny as hell, but it's mostly awful, tragic, and ...

stupid.

6079_Smith_W

Yet all those people are just as much a part of that society. And all those comments need to be tempered by the context, and by the writers' own perspectives and biases.

More importantly, I think their motives are not quite the same as yours. Specifically, none of them was of the opinion that this was something specific to the U.S.

Here's something interesting: Azimov's review of 1984.The whole thing is worth reading, but here is a relevant passage:

Quote:

In addition to the immortality of Big Brother, Orwell presents two other ways of maintaining an eternal tyranny.

First -,present someone or something to hate. In the Orwellian world it was Emmanuel Goldstein for whom hate was built up and orchestrated in a robotized mass function. This is nothing new, of course. Every nation in the world has used various neighbours for the purpose of hate.

   Second - rewrite history. Almost every one of the few individuals we meet in 1984 has, as his job, the rapid rewriting of the past, the readjustment of statistics, the overhauling of newspapers - as though anyone is going to take the trouble to pay attention to the past anyway.

http://www.newworker.org/ncptrory/1984.htm

See what I mean? Azimov was smart, and a visionary, but he had a cynical streak. Not that you'd know it from the hopeful ending of Fahrenheit 451. And he didn't see America as any different than other societies.

 

 

 

6079_Smith_W

Though I suppose the real question here is how stupid do you think we are?

 

Pondering

I do believe that the powers that be have designed education to suit themselves. To train the masses as workers not thinkers and  memorizing useless history that agrandizes political leadership is part of that. But there are people above the political level pulling the strings that are perfectly content to have everyone demonizing the politicians and corporations without looking any farther.

 

Mr. Magoo

Funny, though, that pretty much everything from multiplication of fractions to comparative literature to how to write an essay seemed like brain stuff.

The closest I think I ever came to learning how to "work" in school was playing dodgeball in gym class.

Michael Moriarity Michael Moriarity's picture

6079_Smith_W wrote:

See what I mean? Azimov was smart, and a visionary, but he had a cynical streak. Not that you'd know it from the hopeful ending of Fahrenheit 451. And he didn't see America as any different than other societies.

Umm, Ray Bradbury wrote F 451, not Asimov. The 3 laws of robotics, the Foundation series, and many others were by Asimov, but not that one.

6079_Smith_W

Ah, you're right Michael. Thanks. Silly me.

Actually, my favourite of his,speaking of the end of the world, and creation:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R3U30wSAV4Q

Rev Pesky

6079_Smith_W wrote:
...Again, my point is that these things you are pulling out of the air as supposed markers for stupidity arent indicators at all, nor are they things that particularly set Americans apart.

Actually it was you who climate change out of the air, not me.

6079_Smith_W wrote:
...And in the case of not being familiar with history, it is actually kind of elitist. Aside from the whole false idea that not having formal education makes one stupid, why should many Americans be more familiar with Tom Paine than Santa Anna, or Crazy Horse, or Frederick Douglass?

 Because Tom Paine was every bit as important to the US as George Washington (whom everybody knows), Benjamin Franklin (whom everybody knows), Thomas Jefferson (whom everybody know), and Paul Revere (whom everybody knows).

Learning history is elitist? Really? How about learning science, is that elitist too?

6079_Smith_W wrote:
...but rather, pulling out whatever we can to make other people look dumb, and ourselves, by contrast, very very smart.

Sorry, but you've failed. And I'm not even including the laugher about Isaac Asimov writing Fahrenheit 451. But apparently a familiarity with science ficiton is elitist as well.

I'll ask this question. Is there some area of knowledge that, reading about it and searching out answers, you don't consider elitist? 

6079_Smith_W wrote:
...As has been pointed out already, does getting your jollies in this kind of an exercise seem like a good demonstration and a progressive use of our superior intelligence to you?

This is the funniest part of it. My intelligence is not superior. It is a completely garden variety intelligence which would be equal to about half of the world's population.

If there is a difference, it is in the fact that my mother, bless her heart, who had very little formal education, was a life-long believer in improving the mind. When I was a young she would take all four of her children to the local library, and let us go with the admonition to 'make sure you get enough books because we're not coming back until next week'

You can learn things from reading, you know. You don't have to be a rocket scientist, or the class nerd.

Which is why I am so dead set against willful ignorance. In this country, with a library in every small town, with free public education, with all the advantages that so many places don't have, we have no excuse for ignorance. None.

And if you think that's 'elitist', then there's not much I can do but feel very sorry for you.

RevolutionPlease RevolutionPlease's picture

Mr. Magoo wrote:

Funny, though, that pretty much everything from multiplication of fractions to comparative literature to how to write an essay seemed like brain stuff.

The closest I think I ever came to learning how to "work" in school was playing dodgeball in gym class.

 

Brain stuff? -Multiplication of fractions is simple rote memorization. (rather mindless, requiring no thought or questioning at all)

Comparative literature? -Who chooses these trash books? (mindless if you conform, trouble/failure if you don't adhere)

Whoever wrote "How to write an essay" deserves the death penalty. Why isn't there a "How to write to society?"

I can see why you found dodgeball "work".

It doesn't teach us to "think". It does everything it can to normalize pacificity.

You can be rich and you don't have to think, we'll teach you how.

 

I'm afraid you're mistaken on what thinking is. It's wise and easy not to think.

 

Thinking produces a lot of unpleasant truths.

 

6079_Smith_W

I didn't pull climate change out of the air. I raised it as something that something that would be more of an indicator for lack of self preservation than believing in creationism, if you were looking for things that might indicate stupidity. I didn't say I thought it made someone stupid. Like I said, I think those of us who do accept it, but continue doing the same things would by that measure be even more stupid. 

And having an education is not elitist. I said no such thing, and in fact I remember saying upthread a knowledge of history is a very good thing.

What is elitist is dismissing others as stupid because they don't fit your model of what a smart person should be.

Ditto for laughing (and far from ignoring it, you are the only one doing so) at a simple mistake. As with this thread, it says far more about the one pointing the finger, than the intended object.

 

Michael Moriarity Michael Moriarity's picture

6079_Smith_W wrote:

Ah, you're right Michael. Thanks. Silly me.

Actually, my favourite of his,speaking of the end of the world, and creation:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R3U30wSAV4Q

I remember reading this story over 50 years ago. How time flies.

6079_Smith_W

I first saw it as a planetarium show.

There is also a youtube version of it read by Leonard Nimoy, which as you might expect flows a bit better than Azimov's version.

Fabulous story, which is as relevant today as it was when it was written.

Mr. Magoo

Quote:
Brain stuff? -Multiplication of fractions is simple rote memorization. (rather mindless, requiring no thought or questioning at all)

What kind of "questioning" should be encouraged here?

*hand up*

"I don't believe that 3/7 x 1/4 really equals 3/28!"

Also, were you thinking of multiplication tables that we memorized?  Because I can multiply 7/104 x 7/10 no problem, and I surely didn't memorize that.

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