Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Too Stupid for Democracy

Okay it is now official, Americans are actually getting dumber. My heart sank when I encountered the following article recently:
A substantial and growing number of Americans say that Barack Obama is a Muslim, while the proportion saying he is a Christian has declined.

A new national survey by the Pew Research Center finds that nearly one-in-five Americans (18%) now say Obama is a Muslim, up from 11% in March 2009. Only about one-third of adults (34%) say Obama is a Christian, down sharply from 48% in 2009.
To these fellow citizens I say: you are too f_ing stupid to be allowed to vote.

It is usually the Conservatives who are quick to invoke the Founding Fathers in their bid to take the country back to its supposed roots. Not surprisingly, more Conservatives than Liberals believe our president is a follower of Islam.

Of course, the Founding Fathers would likely turn over in their graves if they knew how the franchise was being practiced today. Never in their wildest dreams did those guys back in 1776 expect anyone other than their fellow wealthy, educated, white land owners to be in charge of the newly emerging republic - certainly not ale-swilling, sweaty every-day laboring rabble, women or imported human farm equipment.

I would be a strong proponent of requiring a “literacy test” as a condition for apply for voter registration. After all, we administer tests to people applying for driver’s licenses. Although I admit there are compelling practical implications of testing someone’s intellect prior to allowing them to hurl two tons of metal down public highways. Which of these two activities produces the most death and destruction?

Anosognosia is defined as a condition in which a person who suffers from a disability seems unaware of or denies the existence of his or her disability. It has more recently been used as well to describe people who are too stupid to recognize how stupid they are (1 Dunning-Kruger Effect). The malady appears to be spreading in epidemic proportions in this country.
1 The Dunning–Kruger Effect is a cognitive bias in which an unskilled person makes poor decisions and reaches erroneous conclusions, but their incompetence denies them the metacognitive ability to realize their mistakes.


Mary Witzl said...

I saw that article yesterday and I had to get up and walk away from my computer before I punched something. Part of me is in denial over it: surely anti-Americans must be spreading malicious gossip about us? But deep inside, I suspect this is true. Part of me also can't believe that anything as corny as that McCain/Palin ad could ever have seen the light of day in America -- it's almost self parody, isn't it?

Many of my Turkish students were half convinced that Obama was Muslim. Does that make this any easier to bear? Not really. My Turkish students were sadly not the cream of the cream.

Gorilla Bananas said...

I think it's a conspiracy theory mindset rather than stupidity. A lot of people believe the moon landings were faked. And Oliver Stoned made a movie about the Kennedy assassination that was utter hogwash, so it's not just conservatives who are to blame.

DJan said...

I too have wondered why we here in America are so dumb. Your blog's title reminds me yet again that this once-great nation is on its way down. Here's another reason why: a nation of sheep who cannot think, who believe whatever Glenn Beck spouts is truth, will be led to the slaughter when they could have instead walked to freedom. I am sad to see this decline and wonder if it's so bad after all to be 68 and only here for another decade or two...

The Mother said...

"And these people VOTE!"

Commonly heard around my house, virtually daily, as the stupidity and ignorance (not the same thing) of our population manifests itself.

What was wrong with oligarchy, anyway?

Robert the Skeptic said...

Mary Actually the McCain-Palin ad is a parody... but frightening as well.

The few graduate students I have met from Muslum countries have revealed to me that they were warned before coming here that Christians would try to convert them.

Bananas Conspiracy theorists ARE stupid in my book. And no, it is clearly not an affliction limited to Conservatives, there is plenty of idiocy to go around.

DJan Not only Glenn Beck but Corporate-speak, religious blather, entertainment news (which I now include mainstream network news in). I think the ultimate goal is to ensure there is an abundant supply of cheap, illiterate, drones to skim what little of their disposable income they manage to keep.

Dr. Mom I think the most recent Supreme Court decision sealed our national oligarchy to our fate. Already the news is rife with big corporations funneling millions into Conservative coffers. Their big push is to make permanent the Bush tax cuts.

Marylinn Kelly said...

Watching DREAMS WITH SHARP TEETH, a documentary about Harlan Ellison, gave us a sense of not having lost our minds...he is so outspokenly militant about stupidity..."Yes, you have the right to your opinion, your INFORMED opinion..." And I will be more mindful of furthering non-science and other witless pursuits, i.e. the full moon posting. We are on thin ice. (Did they include the number of people who believe about the President that (a) he was born in Africa or (b) that his Hawaiian birth certificate proves he is not American?)

Robert the Skeptic said...

Marylinn I have taken on that tack in recent years as well; you have the right to an informed opinion and the responsibility to know what you are talking about. So few do the latter.

What surprises me is how blatantly people are willing to publicly present their ignorance to the world. I find that astounding... they are actually proud of their ignorance, it seems.

secret agent woman said...

A literacy test wouldn't begin to address the problem and would unfairly penalize the poor. You think that most Republicans or the folks who run the Fox network can't read?

The Idiot Speaketh said...

I read that same article! I was not shocked though. Down here in Texas, I would bet the numbers are probably closer to 30% that the President is a Muslim. I had the same reaction as you...."How can rational adults be such freakin idiots?" We are clearly well onto our way of being a land of drooling Morons!

TechnoBabe said...

I have been saying for five years that I do not watch TV. This is one of the best reasons to put the TVs in the trash, because that is pretty much that is on them.

Robert the Skeptic said...

SecretAgent I was being somewhat facetious about the testing. However, in my experience working with the poor as a welfare caseworker I can confirm the findings that the generally poor don't bother to vote, even in a state like mine, the ONLY state with mail-in ballots. What's more, a surprising number who do will often vote against their own self interest. (ie: "What's the Matter with Kansas")

Idiot My fear exactly regarding where this country is headed. I don't believe China has a 50% drop-out rate. If we turned our country around tomorrow it would still take decades to catch up.

KleinsteMotte said...

That something is wrong is clear. How many people think "Dr. Oz" is a Muslim? His origin is Turkey. and his first name is the Turkish equivalent of Mohamad. He's a media figure. Why do people pay attention to these things? I thought there was freedom to worship in America. Who cares where you pray. Just be good and help all others as you journey through life, right???The polls are not being fair. They must poll the exact same people both times to chart the changed outcome fairly.

Robert the Skeptic said...

TechnoBabe That may work for you and me, but millions of others get their information from a few catch phrases and sound bites. They prefer that Critical Thinking is done for them.

KleinsteMotte Dr. Oz's spouse is a practitioner of "therapeutic touch", "reiki" and other pseudo-scientific blather.

I am dubious of the accuracy of most polls as well; it is abundantly clear that one can phrase the question to elicit the desired answer. Still, this one in particular does not surprise me.

Anonymous said...

I'm catching up on blogs and had a treat reading those I missed over the past few days. I can always count on a thoughtful, insightful posting from you....today I got to read many!
The phrase repeated at our house is "if stupidity were against the law, there would be few people not in jail".
I think a lot of it has to do with changes in our education system over the past several decades. There used to be a body of common knowledge, including civics, history, science, literature and art. It may have been limited to it's era, but the concept of a base level of knowledge seems to have gone by the wayside. Many of the young people I know have NO IDEA WHO HITLER WAS, OR WHAT ATROCITIES HE ORCHESTRATED.
The success of Democracy is rooted in education of the masses. Stupidity can be cured by knowledge. Racism, bigotry and hate are much more difficult. Disrespect of education has become so common that I also fear a Dark ages is coming.....ruled by the Taliban, Tea Party or Chinese, depending on where you live.

Anonymous said...

Osama's that dude who bombed the twin towers right?

Robert the Skeptic said...

BackRow I share many of your thoughts. I have often said that if stupidity were a crime most of our citizens would be in prison.

Yes, I believe we are headed for a new Dark Ages. We have a 50% drop out rate (I am sure China's is much smaller) and the ones who do remain in school learn that god created everything in 6 days. I do believe that if this country believes intellectuals are our enemy, we have no where else to go but down.

Anonymous Yup... and don't forget to vote on November 3rd.

secret agent woman said...

My mother worked with a get out the vote thing in her south Georgia town - any poor black residents voted for the first time in the last election. Thank goodness.

Anonymous said...

Cuz like I always get Osama and Obama mixed up.
One's the leader of an aggressive, interfering, international force of terror, and the other lives in a cave right?

Kiwi said...

I, too, wonder if our republic can survive if too many of its members actually *value* embracing ignorance, closed-mindedness, and xenophobia. What I tell myself is this: maybe what we are seeing is a backlash to the reality that the bigots have lost their footing, and are in a panic to get it back. It may sound odd, but I actually comfort myself by the fact that pretty soon (2050?), people of Euro decent will be a minority of the population of the USA, having been supplanted in major part by our neighbors to the South. On the other hand, the world stage offers up plenty of examples of minorities oppressing majorities. Also, a lot of those newcomers to the US are likely to be Catholic, which (as an atheist) doesn't cheer me up much. On the other hand, I've generally found Catholics easier to get along with than Protestants, go figure. The only thing that I can be certain about is that things are going to change (duh, they always do) and that the people who educated themselves and their children to be adaptable will fair better than those who are desperately trying to cling to a perfect past that never existed.

Back to the subject: I think President Obama is probably an atheist, just like most politicians. He'll never admit it, just like the rest of them won't, because it would be political suicide if not corporeal suicide.

Orhan Kahn said...

You give them tests and they fail, sure, but den dey ge' reel maad n dey no howw 2 uz dem guns.

Robert the Skeptic said...

SecretAgent The "get out the vote" and "rock the vote" campaigns have been very effective. I wish the rest of the country would follow Oregon's lead and vote by mail. We did it, it does not favor one party over another, it works.

Anonymous Ok, now you got a chuckle out of me.

Kiwi Indeed, Anglo-Saxon is no longer the largest demographic in this country. I share your observation; I find it interesting that the section of the country we took from Mexico in war is being reclaimed by the same population who originally owned it. Actually Monterey California was established at the time America declared it's independence from England and served as the capital of California from 1777 to 1849, under the flags of Spain and Mexico (source: Wikipedia)

I think a lot of politicians are not believers but only profess belief to assuage the beliefs of their constituents.

Orhan The firepower in the hands of our moron minions indeed gives me great pause.