Thursday, June 29, 2017

Celebrating Idiocracy

It's so obvious, so inescapable, you can almost smell it. "It" is America's transformation into true idiocracy.  The Globe's Lawrence Martin writes that, in today's America, "the less you know, the cooler you are."

There’s another book out about how dumb America is getting. In The Death of Expertise, Tom Nichols takes things a step further than other analysts of the decaying American mind. He goes so far as to say “ignorance has become hip.”

Yep, in the most powerful country on Earth, the less you know, the cooler you are.

“The United States is now a country obsessed with the worship of its own ignorance,” alleges Dr. Nichols, a professor at Rhode Island’s Naval War College. Expertise is being replaced “with the insistence that every opinion on any matter is as good as any other.”

The epidemic of misinformation is without precedent, the author maintains, and no one has a clue of what to do about it. Donald Trump is capitalizing and will continue to do so until respect for erudition, if ever, is restored.

Newspapers keep publishing lists of the President’s latest lies. In a speech Mr. Trump gave at an ego-stoking mass rally in Iowa last week, The New York Times found a dozen. Nobody cared. It was consistent with his batting average. Lies aren’t news any more. Fiction is to be expected. Fiction wins.

Sure enough, after months of being pilloried as a liar, Mr. Trump triumphed in his first big electoral test. The Democrats threw a ton of resources into a battle for a congressional seat in Georgia last week. As in the presidential election, there were expectations they would win. They lost.

Low-information voters were again on Mr. Trump’s side. “I love the poorly educated,” he said last year. Small wonder. They’re ill-equipped to challenge him. His ignorance is bliss.

I think we've been watching this ferment, at least as far back as the attacks of 9/11. Something snapped in the minds of many, if not most, Americans. It's as though they sustained the purely intellectual equivalent of a massive stroke. They're now easily led by outright propaganda agencies such as FOX News which renders them puppets in the hands of America's new oligarchs. At some point we're going to have to realize that our southern cousins are driving drunk and they like it that way.


Toby said...

“ignorance has become hip.”

Just like most of my school days. Anti-intellectualism has always been around. Americans tend to revel in it.

The Mound of Sound said...

It's a function of scale, Toby. This is different than your high school daze.

Owen Gray said...

It spreads from one generation to the next. And it grows as it spreads. It's become a pandemic.

The Mound of Sound said...

Sort of like that drunk uncle who shows up at Christmas and pisses his pants while sitting in your easy chair.

John B. said...

What has always struck me is the puffed-up demonstrations of pride that these types often execute when proclaiming their state of indifference. It's as though they believe, or are trying to communicate to you, that they know it all, but they've risen above the fray and have the special insight to realize that anyone who makes the time to give consideration to a question is wasting it. And then of course, they're the first ones to get into a paralyzing knot when something either pisses them off or puzzles them. Then, if it goes on too long, somebody like Trump might step in and promise to make the hurting in the head go away.