Recently, Maclean’s ran an article ruminating on the dumbing down of the United States. According to multiple studies, deftly shoved together by writer Jonathon Gatehouse in the piece, one of the most powerful nations is dropping in intelligence, and not just in the cut and dry ways most folks would have you believe. Not only are the conservative people concretely aligned with the word of god considered a threat, but so too are a number of intellectual types navigating the twisted webs of information in an all too selective manner. The dumb surrounds us from all angles, it seems.
Some fine examples of this, evident not only in the article, are gun laws being flushed in favor of a so called freedom that in turn will get more people shot accidentally (dumb), and schools trying to teach religious subjects pitting blind faith against science (fundamentally dumb). The United States has always been a bit guilty of smooshing every bit of symbolism into one or two patriotic grunts and screeches, but it’s getting worse with information technology and sound-bite politics. That, and scientific inquiry is easily skewed as over-intellectual by grinning politicians, not something the common American human should have to be troubled over.
My favorite concept brought up, actually, is the idea that politicians use the word “folks” a lot. You’d never bother thinking about it, but it’s sort of an insult to any possible academic or intellectual identity. We’re all supposed to be everyday schlums, folks unable to comprehend the vast mechanics of politics, philosophy, and the sciences. Religion runs parallel to this political behavior, breeding a kind of dumb that on the surface looks like community, patriotism, and being a good sport. Sheer idiocy is being engineered with a big, fat smile.
There are ways to reverse ignorance and stupidity, but they aren’t easy, and most methods stand against a monolithic system. Bill Nye’s effort to debate Ken Hamm should have been a beacon of hope, but creationists were able to spin the whole thing as an elite science type trying to make regular ol’ Hamm look lower class (this gleaned from comments sections everywhere, as well as some of Gatehouse’s excellent ideas regarding elitism). Packs of self proclaimed ordinary citizens would rather remain ‘folks’ than have some scientist try to stomp all over their blind faith and seemingly unquestionable morals. Intellectual pursuits are riddled with doubt, and don’t make for impressive politics, so their usage in the broader media can become a target.
It’s not only the United States that is celebrating a newfound level of dumb. Sure, the States land in the news more than most countries with a myriad of dumb decisions and events fueled by ignorance, but tweets, Whatsapp messages and Facebook addictions are international. Anyone who chooses to spend their time looking at cat gifs is guilty of spreading the gospel of dumb.
To really have a chance at stopping this, it will take a lot of convincing on a mass scale. Good, difficult news will have to be the breakfast reading choice, and technology will have to be quarantined in favor of books and media sources now demonized as elitist. It shouldn’t be some kind of crime to be intelligent, but intelligent people should step down off the high horse afforded to them now by the political machine and join the world. Education is not just a networking step, and money makes zero people happy. Dumb is a powerful force, and a powerful tool, and if writers like Gatehouse are correct, then the fight has to be a complex one, forcing us to rethink even the smallest decisions made daily that fuel a growing global ignorance and dangerous dumbness.