Celebrating Stupidity in America: The Cold Hard Facts

Is the Moonlite Bunny Ranch a breeding ground for Satan's acolytes or just a rational solution to a very real social problem?

Prostitution should be legal.

In my opinion, what two consenting adults privately agree to is their own business.  I don’t see a whole lot of difference between prostitution and meeting some random person at a club, throwing a hundred bucks worth of food and alcohol into them,  and dragging them back to the crib for a hook-up.  And it’s no different at all from pornography–save for a camera and some contortion.

This is a point I made during a classroom discussion on the topic a while back.  It won no new adherents.

Of course, others in the discussion had moral objections, which I kind of understand.  The problem was, from a rational standpoint, the students opposed to legalizing prostitution seemed incapable of incorporating new information into their schema.

This isn't the only way to legalize prostitution.

They were stuck on the idea that this would legalize child prostitution and sex slavery.  Some argued, independent of facts, that it would create a viral epidemic.  No matter how many times we argued that we were only talking about consenting adults, or that statistics demonstrated comparatively lower STD rates, that it reduced the necessity for pimps, and that prostitution was already going on without legal protections or regulations, they persistently displayed no ability whatsoever to understand anything other than what they already believed.

Needless to say, it was not an intellectually stimulating debate.   One side was trying to make factually accurate points; the other side simply argued their feelings and disregarded anything contradictory.  (BTW,  fellow blogger Warm Southern Breeze has a great post on the topic of willful ignorance)

It was a little frustrating (but still kinda fun).

I’ve since come to the–seemingly–narcissistic realization that half the class was…well..stupid.  At the very least they were ignorant and bad at thinking critically.  (Actually, it may have been more than half the class because not everyone on our side of the issue was making their case factually and they certainly weren’t being challenged in that arena by the other side.)

So, roughly half of the students in an NCA accredited college class proved themselves incapable of knowledge integration.  America’s shameless celebration of stupidity, currently in the formative stages of  it’s 2nd generational run, was at work before my very eyes.

The powers that be have exalted ignorance to the point of a cultural virtue with the insidious aim of manipulating uninformed consumers and voting blocks against their own best interests.  And we’ve bought into it hook, line, and sinker.  Ask any Republican who makes less than $250,000 a year.  Ask any civil rights advocate who supports Barack Obama.

But this is not a political issue; it’s an American issue.  With almost unlimited information at our fingertips we’re less informed now than ever.  This is partly due to propaganda and misinformation campaigns by partisan groups (Hiya, Fox News!) but it’s also due to our inability to evaluate data.

This is the information age.  We need to start acting like it.  Information is as powerful a tool/weapon as there is.  Yet we seem unable to make proper use of it.  (Okay, saying “we” is over-generalizing.  Not all Americans are ignorant, but way, way, waaayy too many of us are.  It’s the atrophial majority.)

This is not to say that most people are incapable of analytical thought; but critical thinking is a skill that must be honed.  And this is not done by parroting political talking points or long stretches of “vegging out”.  It requires the continual development of skills in data-collection, evaluation, moral prioritizing, skepticism, and reasoning.  Pragmatism plays a part, but the key ingredient is humility, the ability to acknowledge that you may be wrong, understand when you are, and accept it–which ain’t easy.  The rest is just making sure your opinion doesn’t get in the way of the truth.

Politically, our number one priority is getting money out of politics.  Socially, it’s to get smarter–better informed and better at analysis and assimilation.

Until we do both, we will not be able to deal with the issues we face.  We’re just trying to climb to great heights with no limbs.

Oh, and here’s Bill Maher with a little more context:

And for the punishment gluttons, more American ignorance (remember, it’s not about what you don’t know, it’s about being unwilling to learn):

From http:  Alternet.org

  • Less than 50% of Americans know that Sandra Day O’Connor was the first woman appointed to the United States Supreme Court.
  • Going into the First Gulf War, just 15% could identify Colin Powell, then chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, or Dick Cheney, then secretary of defense.
  • In 2007, in the fifth year of the Iraq War, only 21% could name the secretary of defense, Robert Gates.
  • Most Americans cannot name their own member of Congress or their senators (You can find out here).
  • How many people know that the Social Security is running a surplus? And that this surplus — some $150 billion a year — is actually quite substantial, even by Washington standards? And how many know that the system has been in surplus since 1983?  During all the years the surpluses were building, the Democrats in Congress pretended the money was theirs to be spent, as if it were the same as all the other tax dollars collected by the government. And spend it they did, whenever they had the chance, with no hint that they were perhaps disbursing funds that actually should be held in reserve for later use.

From the Daily Beast:

  • A Jan. 25 CNN poll, meanwhile, discovered that even though 71 percent of voters want smaller government, vast majorities oppose cuts to Medicare (81 percent), Social Security (78 percent), and Medicaid (70 percent). Instead, they prefer to slash waste—a category that, in their fantasy world, seems to include 50 percent of spending, according to a 2009 Gallup poll.

From 2006 Roper Poll conducted for National Geographic:

  • One-third of respondents couldn’t pinpoint Louisiana on a map.
  •  48 percent were unable to locate Mississippi.
  • Less than 30% think it important to know the locations of countries in the news and just 14% believe speaking another language is a necessary skill.
  • 60% could not find Iraq on a map of the Middle east.
  • While the outsourcing of jobs to India has been a major U.S. business story, 47% could not find the Indian subcontinent on a map of Asia.
  • 75% were unable to locate Israel on a map of the Middle East.
  • Nearly 75% incorrectly named English as the most widely spoken native language (Spanish).
  • 30% thought the most heavily fortified border in the world was between the United States and Mexico (It’s actually the border between North and South Korea).

I was gonna keep going, but now I’m depressed.  The good news is that we can always get better at learning–and thinking.  We just have to put in the time and effort.

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Author: therealkenjones

writer, artist, wannabe photographer, recovering Southern Californian...

3 thoughts on “Celebrating Stupidity in America: The Cold Hard Facts”

    1. Actually I’d go a little further and say that the gullibility required to believe in a supernatural creator and author of reality–without ANY verifiable evidence–is a primary source of stupidity in human beings; it teaches us that it’s okay to believe in things without valid reasons and in some cases, in defiance of all evidence, that believing something profoundly somehow gives it merit, that psychological comfort is a type of evidence, that unfounded claims are equivalent to evidence-based claims provided enough people agree with it, and that questioning certain ideas or authorities is taboo.

      Though I would disagree about only you having the guts to say it online. Just go to YouTube and type atheist.

  1. Hello therealkenjones
    I don’t believe in a “A Supernatural Creator” or “Author of Reality”. BUT- our species -like all other species is born into an already existing world/planet/solar system ect . We are not it’s authors – and we don’t know who or what it’s authors are !. So humans are left with a heap of beliefs + what we learn from science and observation . We simply do not know very much . Does a spider in the corner of your ceiling know where Asia is or what it is ?.

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