Are we getting dumber?

Susan Jacoby says we are in her book ‘The Age of American Unreason’. She argues her point in this article in the Washington Post. She’s ready to come on to the programme on Monday to talk about her views.

Do you agree with her? Jimmy Wales, one of the founders of Wikipedia, doesn’t. He points to the popularity of Wikipedia as evidence.

Ms Jacoby talks specifically about America, but is it a global phenomenon?  A recent study by the University College London suggests that the younger generation lacks the analytical skills necessary to process large amounts of information.

Some experts worry that the standard of education in the West is falling behind many Asian countries, particularly in maths and science.

Unconvinced? Here’s an example of a maths problem set by the Chinese education authority for entry level university students. 

 If you’re in America, do you agree with Susan Jacoby? Are people in your country getting less intelligent? If so, why is it happening?

37 Responses to “Are we getting dumber?”

  1. 1 Brett
    February 27, 2008 at 16:57

    Are we getting dumber in relation to other countries?

    – Yes.

    Are we getting dumber in general?

    – In some respects.

    Are we making advancements in education?

    – In some respects.

    It all depends on how you look at it. We do lack behind many countries in both the quality of education and the level of education itself. But we are also ahead of many countries. And we have education available for virtually all citizens, regardless of its level in relation to the rest of the world. Many coutries do not have this luxury. Americans are just getting lazy when it comes to learning.

    Brett ~ Richmond, Va.

  2. 2 George USA
    February 27, 2008 at 23:04

    Dumber means decreased intelligence. That is not the case.

    Lack of knowledge is the issue.

    Yesterday USA Today reported a survey of 1,200 students which found the fund of knowledge has dropped dramatically.

    This is a damning report card of US Education.

    The students did fine on materials that were taught: they are not being taught.

    Text books in high schools look like comic books compared to 50 years ago.

  3. 3 Andrew Stamford
    February 28, 2008 at 14:43

    It seems that the more educated (allegedly) we become the dumber we seem to be. To take one example – food and weight. It seems so many are in tune with food science and nutrition yet the world is getting fatter. I see people desperately counting calories, reading labels on food in the supermarkets but they just seem to do the wrong thing again and again and ignore basic food, good food (I dislike the term healthy food). All this effort to understand the food they buy but still do the wrong thing. Go figure. Other than than you ask anyone you meet and they will insist that they are smart, intelligent but a famed neurologist noted that statistically half the people in the world must be below average intelligence! As proof of that think how many use excuses for poor choices or bad behaviour. My child is fat – because of the fast food retailers.. binge drinking is a problem here because there are too many liquor outlets… I wasted all my money because the casino is open all hours… I drove through the stop sign and derailed a train so it must be the governments fault for not making the sign bigger brighter etc etc etc. No one seems to accept responsibility for their actions anymore, bereft of any self-control. Even walking down the street how many people walk into you as if they were the only people on the planet – you should have gotten out of their way instead?? It is almost as if people do not want to know, that would require some form of mental effort on their part. The last lot of university undergrads I worked with seemed to back up my premise that yeah maybe they are getting dumber, or lazier which is about the same.

  4. February 28, 2008 at 15:13

    Thomas Jefferson once said, “A man who reads nothing at all is better educated than a man who reads newspapers.” I’d amend that to say, “A man who reads nothing at all is better educated than a man who reads the Internet.”

    It sounds like Wales and many others don’t quite understand the difference between being educated and memorizing facts, much less what constitutes intelligence. Yes, we have educated people contributing to Wikipedia, but Wikipedia also has a terrible reputation for being incomplete and having entire texts as war zones of opinion. I’m an occasional contributor and I can tell you that in places it’s a mess. If anything, it’s like a monument to the few educated who are desperately trying to educate the E-masses who in turn mob the work with their own ignorance.

    I live with a university professor, so I get to hear all kinds of stories about the stupidity of today’s kids — most of whom don’t know how to use basic punctuation, which you can see on any social network. Our country has let education slide right into the toilet and if anything technology has brought that to the fore.

  5. 5 Joanna, St. Louis
    February 28, 2008 at 16:21

    I don’t think it’s a question of are we getting dumber but rather that we are getting more and more lazy. With computers, calculators, the internet, etc. it is no longer necessary to memorize remedial facts and calculations. Graphing calculators and excel are relied upon heavily in U.S. universities. I don’t dare step into a classroom without my calculator. It’s sad but true. Why memorize a complicated equation when I can just “plug and chug?” Is it because I’m dumber? No, it’s because I was never pushed to learn the real/long way of doing things. We like our “easy” buttons.

  6. 6 Xie_Ming
    February 29, 2008 at 15:48

    Ms. Jacoby is talking about American attitudes and national character.

    A larger view might note that brain connections and volumes change in response to use, both in individuals and in the evolution of homo sapiens. Our cerebral cortex is less now than it was for some of our ancestors. Modern life does not present as many problems for day-to-day survival.

    Shorter attention spans are endemic in the television-raised society. TV has music, words and images all presented together. The passive, watching brain has little work to do- it does not integrate what is presented with its own experience. The integration is done for the passive receptor. (Contrast that with listening to a story on the radio!).

    The mass man is thus easily created and manipulated

  7. 7 steve
    February 29, 2008 at 19:25

    I would say yes. There’s an anti-intellectual movement coming from the right. It gets fuelled by the snobbishness and pretentiousness from those on the left. But honestly, just listening to Americans talk, they just sound stupid. I’m sure I probably sound stupid too because I’m American. All the slang, the stupid valley girl accents that are so commong. I was watching that show with Paris Hilton and Nicole Ritchie while I was in Germany. They would dub over the english with German. The German was all proper, the speaker sounded intelligent, while of course Paris was just speaking like the idiot that she is. That they were showing that show in Germany I found disturbing, but oh well. Maybe we’re all stupid, and it’s just that Americans just sound more stupid.

  8. 8 George USA
    March 1, 2008 at 01:01

    William Buckley just died.

    He had a program called Firing Line.

    Another Journalist recounted the story of writing a parody of Buckley in college and then was offered a job by him.

    He also recounted that Buckley treated the audience of Firing Line seriously, challenging them to rise up to a high level of debate.

    Education in the USA has gone the other direction, aiming at the lowest level so no student would feel bad or left behind.

    Aiming at the highest goals, you may not achieve them.

    But aiming at the lowest goals under the delusion that you are including everyone only lowers everyone.

    US Education has aimed at the lowest, and they have achieved it.

  9. 9 Will Rhodes
    March 1, 2008 at 01:37

    Dumber? Certainly not. From what I understand speaking to Americans their education system is all about the test – so they are learning what is needed to complete that but nought much else.

    My dear father, once of the British army had a saying for people who were taught in such a way “Educated idiots”. I have only recently begun to truly understand what that means.

    If you are a member of Facebook as I am, you will understand this, too.

  10. 10 George USA
    March 1, 2008 at 07:49

    Susan Jacoby is mistaken.

    She notes a President, who was placed in the job rather than elected, with grave limitations.

    That does not represent our nation’s intelligence but the subversion of the democratic process.

    The dumbing down of curriculum exactly parallels the neuro-linguistic mind control techniques used in

    commercial advertising and the social engineering operations of an intelligence community run amuck in

    occult doctrines and ever increasing lawlessness.

    No Ms Susan, America has learned what it was taught over the past 20 years.

    There was no chance to it, and the internet is not the blame.


    “Folks” is a colloquial term of the South. It is used by people from that area in informal speech.

  11. March 1, 2008 at 18:04

    There is not much doubt in my mind that there is a great deal of ignorance, particularly in the US, about science. I have been quite amazed at the number of people over there who don’t understand the overwhelming evidence for evolution and who believe in creationism, “Intelligent Design” and that the earth is only about six-thousand years old.

    I think people are so focussed on shopping and being consumers that they have lost their wonder about the world and have little ability to compare the products of religion and science. our societies will pay a heavy price one day forthis growing ignorance.

  12. 12 zeroKnots
    March 2, 2008 at 20:44

    I don’t know ’bout y’all, but my intelligence posture has relaxed to near comotose since installing broadband.

    Only one case in point:
    Wiki is doltish, but with increasingly HUUUGE potential as increasingly unrealized ideas go.
    Look up your own area of expertise on wiki. You’ll laugh.

    As for America vs Britain, I respect original thought more than any intelligence quotient that alegedly produces it, let alone the excellence in communications skils that denotes intelligence, let alone the perfect grammer that’s alegedly denotes having something to communicate in the first place.

    Sorry, tea-bags, we heah got y’all beat in a fahr fight in mah book.
    Susan Jacoby is cashing in on the insecurities of our mindless liberals.
    I hope she makes a fortune and gives the BBC their rightful cut.

    Please, BBC, keep these stories coming.
    Theyre, well, original enough by my count, every single iteration variation and abstraction over dozens of years of development.

    Classic example:
    “99% of Americans can’t find their own ass with both hands while sitting on a map of it”

    “But is this a global phenomenon?”

    ” recent study by the University College London suggests that several of the younger generation lack the analytical skills necessary to process gigantically vast amounts of information while drowning.”
    “some, when asked to produce a simple equational proof for or against indeterminacy, declined to even try”

    Oh well that was fun, thanks.

  13. March 3, 2008 at 12:32

    John Gatto writes in his book; “Dumbing Us Down, The Hidden Curriculum” ,on the subject of schools and in particular state regulated schools:

    1. Confusion. Everything is out of context, disconnected and unrelated to real life. Confusion is thrust upon kids by strange adults, each working alone, pretending to an expertise they do not possess. All information is fragmented — the opposite of cohesion. It’s like TV programming. Gatto says, “I teach students how to accept confusion as their destiny.”

    2. Class Position. Children learn their place in the grand pyramid. School teaches children to accept being numbered; not to imagine themselves somewhere else; to fear the better classes and to have contempt for the dumb classes; to stay where you are put.

    3. Indifference. This is taught by the bells and buzzers and other distractions. Nothing is so important that it can’t be interrupted or stopped. Years of bells condition children to know that no work is worth finishing. They, “inoculate each undertaking with indifference.”

    4. Emotional Dependency. Kids must surrender their will to others. They learn they have no rights in school, unless school authorities say they do. There is no individuality in the classification system. They become dependent on gold stars, prizes, “honors,” smiles, frowns and even disgraces. They are hostages.

    5. Intellectual Dependency. Children must wait for others to tell them what to do, and to make meaning of their lives. Teachers and other school employees decide what children study, regardless of the child’s interests or desires. Whether or not they “learn” it, means their “success” or “failure.” Curiosity has no place; only conformity.

    6. Provisional Self-Esteem. This lesson is that a kid’s self-respect should depend on the opinion of others. Children must be evaluated and judged, and found wanting, imperfect, “learning disabled,” ADHD or some other fictitious abnormality. Self-evaluation is never accepted. Gatto: “The lesson of report cards, grades and tests is that children should not trust themselves or their parents but should rely on the evaluation of ‘certified’ officials.”

    7. You Can’t Hide. Students learn that they must always be under surveillance by teachers and other staff. The lesson here is that children are not trusted and their privacy is not legitimate. The purpose is to maintain constant central control over society. The State cannot allow too many citizens to listen to any drummer other than its uniformed marching band.

    Middle class parents, having been through the school mill, seldom believe that their child’s school is one of the bad ones. They learned all seven lessons, most important of which is waiting to be told what to think and do. Our society is made up today largely of what Gatto calls, “psychic invalids” who must be fed, clothed, entertained, medicated, educated and otherwise served by “others.” In fact, the economy would probably fall apart if a large portion of us suddenly did not feel helpless but became more self-sufficient.

    Gatto concludes, “The seven lessons are prime training for people deprived forever of finding the center of their own special genius. School is a twelve-year jail sentence where bad habits are the only curriculum truly learned. I teach school and win awards doing it. I should know.”

  14. 14 Count Iblis
    March 3, 2008 at 14:50

    I think the problem is not so much the digital media, but an educational system that hasn’t adapted to the new world. Let’s consider mathematics. In this day and age, children in primary school grow up with computers, many children can write simple code. But they usually learn this all by themselves. In fact, the logic required to write simple code is avoided in math teaching in primary and secondary school.

    E.g. if you ask an 18 year old high school student why minus one times minus one equals one, he/she will not able to give you the correct answer. The correct answer involves some very simple logical deductions, comparable to what we do every day when we use google and need to narrow down our search results.

    The things children do learn in math class are becoming more and more irrelevant. E.g. everyone has a calculator so, what’s the point of practicing long division over and over again?

    So, we need to make math more relevant, e.g. we need to teach boolean logic in primary school. We should stop pretending that children are too stupid to understand abstract algebra, abstract logic, calculus etc. These more “advanced” topics have a lot of applications in the new digital world.

  15. 15 Katharina in Ghent
    March 3, 2008 at 14:58

    While living in North America, I was amazed that people there actually relie on Dr. Phil and similar “smarties” on what seemed to me like plain common sense. It seemed to me that they were not “dumbed down” in particular, but that somehow they learned to mistrust their own judgements and they need someone else to tell them what’s right and wrong. Sometimes you’re just so worried about possibly doing the wrong thing that you don’t know what’s right anymore. Personally I blame also Political Correctness to be at least part of the problem of it. If you’re not allowed to call anything by it’s right name, because you might offend someone (and I definitely do NOT mean the obvious things like “negroe” etc., more the subtle ones, like bad decisions) then you loose the feeling for it and can’t make educated decisions anymore.

  16. 16 Andrew
    March 3, 2008 at 15:36

    I often think that people just don’t want to know.

    There is plenty of information out there, but it is just too much effort to seriously gather it and then make the extra effort to digest it.

    It is much simpler to just be comfortable in your own ignorance. And if anyone disputes this, then take a look around and see just how many people live that life.

    Worse than that though are those who with only a small amount of information, or what they think passes for valid information seem to think they know it all. I don’t kow who is more dangerous, those that truly are dumb or those with a little knowledge.

  17. March 3, 2008 at 15:39


    Citizens are barely able to think. Most thought is given to them and nothing other is being condoned. The Government’s can do no wrong song prevails. It is dangerous to think and act in anyway against the government. Citizens, the federal, state, county, city and military will honestly attack you for telling the truth.

    Crimes so hideous are happening just so those committing them can dominate another’s will, even to their destruction.

    The society we live in is one that uses technology and every will gaining mind control technique. Communication systems are placed in infants at birth. This isn’t new, it has been happening since the development of the transistor. That is some 56 years ago such demonic actions began and continue.

    The street people are not talking to them self. The news reporter on television, on radio and editors of the mass media. Many are controlled to display the knowledge wished a citizen to act upon.

    The genius child actor, the psycho shooter, the unknown assassins, the elected political offices, the movie producer and actors, the soldiers.. many are radio controlled. They have been conditioned through such fear they will deny it exists, else they know they can be destroyed by it’s abuse.

  18. March 3, 2008 at 16:01

    I have harped on this point before, but here we go. The disparity between the “dumbest” and “smartest” is growing. This is a direct result of two historical facts. One we moved from an agricultural society to an industrial and service based society. Two, “welfare” is the perfect example of “the road too hell is paved with good intentions.”

    Prior to the industrial age children were forced to learn the needed survival skills and moral compass ASAP. it was needed to ensure the family survival and prosperity. The industrial age move parents out of the home and left the children to learn these skills on their own. They no longer had a “naturally” important life role. They also can’t learn what they don’t know exists.

    Welfare is a unique product of the switch in economic income structure. After the switch to industry nearly all families saw a reduction in number of children per household. As children went from being assets to liabilities, so did the attraction to have them. The only facet in our society where it is still more profitable to have more children is the “welfare bracket”. More children means greater economic reward to members of this economic subdivision.

    The relation to the topic at hand is this. WE are encouraging population growth at the poorest and least educated level of our society. This is done while economically discouraging it at the other levels. So naturally, overall we are going to get dumber and poorer as a whole.

  19. 19 viola anderson
    March 3, 2008 at 17:23

    Good morning from British Columbia, Canada. I have a question for Susan Jacoby. This idea that American children are falling behind the rest of the world reminds me of way back in 1957 when the Soviets placed the first satellite in orbit. That generation went on to see the U.S.’s space program take a lead in the world. I remember the outcry at that time about how American children were being left behind in the sciences and the rash of educational programs put in place. I believe that as long as the education is available, the children who can excel will excel. I guess my question would be: Does Ms. Jacoby believe that is no longer true?

  20. March 3, 2008 at 17:45

    My son Jed, age 11, spends way too much time on the internet. Also I have to go into his room at night because he is reading those huge Harry Potter books.

    I mean I don’t remember even thinking about reading huge books of that size and complexity until after I came home from a war and ended up reading “Shogun” by Clavel. My son has a voracious appitite for reading and inventing things. Even writing quite good stories.

    My concern is trying to get him to go out and do outdoor activities with him. I can’t seem to interest him in catching a baseball, going hunting or trap shooting or something that I would have loved to do with my dad.

    The other thing that amazes me is that whenever I bait him into a race or something physically challenging, he beats me effortlessly? Where does he get this conditioning when he sits on his butt too much???

    If only I was as smart, quick, and as naturally gifted as my son is.

    Another thing; where on earth do we keep getting the great young people who show up to do our service in the military, or smokejumping. Have you noticed the incredible athletes that are showing up in sports lately? They are all quite beyond the levels I’ve ever seen when I was in my prime.

    I say where do these great Americans keep coming from????


  21. 21 Shane Prychun
    March 3, 2008 at 18:14

    I believe that a person being a professional requires inteligence and education in their field. With everyone thinking they can do anything with a computer it seems that it is ruining professionalism.

  22. 22 Sara
    March 3, 2008 at 18:14

    We seem to forget that the literacy rate has gone up since 1900, and education is available to more and more people and not just for the elite. We need computers, calculators, and so forth because we are doing twice as much than our rural-based counterparts of the early part of the centurary. Instead of less intelligent, I think we are overstimulated, expected to know everything about every country in every part of the world or we are considered dumb Americans. I heard that our IQ rates are actually up 4% since 1960 which makes sense because we are constantly taking in and processing information. What we have really lost is our physical selves, not our intellectual selves.

  23. 23 Shane Prychun
    March 3, 2008 at 18:14

    … and eliminating the need for proper education.

  24. 24 Scott Millar
    March 3, 2008 at 18:53

    The mainstream or the masses of society are getting dumber. People are not taught how to think, they are taught what to think. Access to information does nothing to increase true intelligence. More book-smarts is not more intelligence, it is simply knowing more facts. I guess I would call it Philosophical intelligence; which is what truly matters.

    In any society where people are becoming more religious, this is clearly an example of people getting dumber!!

  25. 25 Onajomo Akemu
    March 3, 2008 at 18:55

    A question for Susan Jacoby: Is your article not one in a recent series of articles/books of the “demise” of America? Everywhere one reads these days there seems to be articles on the fall of America. Pat Buchanan, even has a bestseller on the subject!

    If America is getting dumber why do US companies still dominate the information, pharmaceutical and technological industries?

  26. 26 Lovemore
    March 3, 2008 at 19:10

    Susan Jacoby says the reduction in people who believe in evoluton is one of the signs of reduced rational thinking? When will she and other scientist finally accept that evolution is not a science? the theory can’t be proved. Can they explain where and how life truelly began? How could there be life after the already lifeless earth gets heated with a temperature of thousands of degrees celcius for hundreds or even thousands of years? That is a serious case of sterilization how can one expect life to begin after that. To make matters even worse, what was the first living thing eating coz it was the only organic thing in existence for thousands of years before it turned into something else? Why have monkeys remained that way? The creation story makes more sense than the evolution theory.

    Believing in God is not a sign of dumbness. Her words sound like a message from the Devil.

  27. 27 KMJUMBE
    March 3, 2008 at 20:24

    Ms. Jacoby makes a strong case for the us example. Disclaimer, I have not fully read here article nor book, i can however, attest to personal experiences which ring all too truth. The problem is rather bi-polar. One the one hand, the us quality of primary education [0-9th grades] is an atrocity due to a lack of qualified teaching professionals, curiculum and the constant pushing kids along even if they have not mastered the education fundamentals for a particular grade level. The Brits and those subscribing to the Brit model and its standards system of testing levels do not have this problem within public education. Kids who do not meet the standard are not progressed; not so in the us. The affects of the us “passing along” system get really expose at entrance to college since the first two years of a basic 4 year program a spend in educational basic that should have been mastered in high school but have not. Colleges now required new students to have a computer and be computer literate but what does it mean and matter if you have not read enough nor broadly enough to be able to compose a paragraph, sentence, basic essay without the grammer/spell checking programs. Students spend more time surfing to plagiarise than reading and crafting their own opinions. To be fair, most of the kids who are matriculated into college from private primary education institutions “prop up” the college statistic since they come in a bit better prepared but we are focused on the vast majority.

    So once these vast majority graduate and enter the paper pushing work force that is service sector economies what happens? The other end of the polar of the bipolar. You have vast workforce in jobs, clicking mouses and pushing paper with no critical skills at analyse nor understanding of the job at hand. How else can one explain the machinations of the so-called rogue trader at SocGen or the mortgage approvals and subsequent meltdown globally? Where were the auditors and the checks and balances of old? Technology and the internet has spawned a horde of “click and get it done quick” automatons who do think much about what it is they are doing [due to volume stress] nor do they care [due to trying to get noticed to advance and excellence their “lifestyle” profiles].

    But do not believe me. Get up and go out to the world and observe the following: wait stop! did you just grab your mobile device? How come now you and everyone around your cannot go anywhere [even the loo] without the mobile device? Go out and look at all the masses.. on commuter trains, sitting in parks, between the aisles at grocery stores, in the cafes –all with mobile devices… Hook to be constantly on… and constantly stressed from being on… Nobody can be creative nor innovative by being constantly pulled in…

    It has gotten so bad that kids can not write a standard personal nor business piece of correspondence due to constant utilisation of text code messaging. Do you really need to phone your spouse from the commuter train or platform and tell them you are at such-a-such stop now of the same tram you ride everyday?

    Recently a report was issued stating that the vast majority of americans are financially illiterate. All are being sheparded into 401K type plans that invest in mutual funds. Ask on to calculate a particular funds NAV or even what NAV is? Ask them if they read a third of the annual reports of the companies invested in by their fund[s]. See that blank look, right? TIM [too much information] for the majority. Technology has outstripped the average man’s ability to comprehend, analyse and interpret what is and what is not and the net effect of that is a “commom sense” dumber populace.

    Not everyone needs to go to college. Bring back the trade professions and apprecticeship programs and given them the same weight and certification as a basic college degree. I would like my plumber, electrician, etc. to know what they are really doing and not be in some cases a handy person.

  28. 28 John in Salem
    March 3, 2008 at 20:52

    Wut doo u meen, dummer?

  29. 29 steve
    March 3, 2008 at 21:38

    “Believing in God is not a sign of dumbness. Her words sound like a message from the Devil.”

    Dear Lovemore: I hate to break it to you, but the devil is just as fictional as God is. Neither exist. I don’t think evolutionists claim evolution to be fact, more of a theory, but at least there is SOME evidence of evolution, there is NO evidence of God or creation other than what’s written in your holy book, by people. These same people thought the Earth was the center of the Universe. These same people drilled holes in peoples heads to release “evil spirits”. So you base your “faith” on the words written down by people who wouldn’t be considered very smart by today’s standards, unless you think stoning someone to death for adultery is smart, or burning “Witches” at the stake is smart.

  30. March 4, 2008 at 00:06

    I don’t know about the rest of the world, but I do know from direct personal experience that, in America, we no longer measuring up to the standards of the fifties and earlier. Back then, we KNEW geography because geography was taught in high schools across America. And we knew English, civics and history, chemistry and even philosophy because they too were taught and taught well, and because learning was prized and students had a self-interest in learning, and campuses and classrooms were serious no-nonsense places where rules applied. I was a graduate assistant and PhD candidate at a US university in the mid West, during the seventies, teaching Western Civ. courses to incoming freshmen. Their reading and writing proficiency became noticeably and increasingly lower each year, until we joked at having to teach remedial English before we could teach college courses!
    Since then, it has all grown worse and, sadly, Ms. Jacoby is only too right. I’d thank her for speaking out and letting the facts be known for, IF we take these facts to heart, remedies are certainly available. If not, well, we’ll just grow dumber and dumber faster and faster, and possibly with dire consequences ’cause we ourselves’ll neither know of it nor want to know, nor will we be likely to believe it. Nevertheless, as content has increased and our lives have grown busier, quality has consistently diminished both in material and, worse, in intellectual terms. As the pace of our lives speeds ever faster and our focus and attention follow suit, of necessity we grow shallower and more superficial, losing in depth what we assume to gain in breadth, and losing as well in-touchness with the inner self and with one another. Indeed, we’re losing ourselves inside greater and greater puerilities, bibelots and all manner of toys, taking its surface to be the heart of life. Alienated from self and others in the land of our birth!
    What happened to the Great Books Clubs once popular all over America? What happened to conversation as a platform for the exchange of ideas, not a fencing match to make a point or win accolades? What happened to ‘comedy’ as a mirror to see our darker side yet lighten up and laugh, not as derisive digs and put downs of each other? What happened to thrift, self-dependence and self-reliance in thought, deeds and economics, unhindered by experts, insurance or big brother?
    As we lose or give away our intellectual prowess and self-reliance, uncertainty and self-doubt gain sway and grow into fear; self-determination gives way to ‘experts’ and the rest is the Here and the Now!

  31. 31 zeroKnots
    March 4, 2008 at 00:33

    As our self appointed spokesperson for “intelligence” in the US, Ms. Jacoby was excruciating to hear.
    Not only because her every point lacked the very initiative whose lack she protests, but that the rerepetition of these predictable answers is like watching the BBC.co.uk Exxon geo-thernmal commercial dozens of times in a row.

    Kick it off with WMD mass-hysteria as if popular opinion is, in THAT case, an irrefutable conclusion in itself.
    Move on to “literal biblical interpretation AS a rejection of evolution or other conflict with science, because of the left’s invented scientific criteria.
    Which was never concluded by theologists or philosophers or intelligent believers to be based in impericism, let alone science.
    Do we subject the number Pi to the same literal criterium?

    Then her intelligent proof for all this is the usual dubious 1/3(??) consensus of opinions.

    This is the critic of critical thinking??
    This legitimizes her authority over intelligence itself in the US?

    Come on, beeb. My earlier post was too dignified if anything. 🙂
    Even the US deserves better than this.

    Dr. Kelly of Newcastle deserved far more mic that he got. You would have my undivided attention with him as THE guest, dispite the intellectual hazards of the broadcast being digital and online and all that.

    Project Gutenberg vs wiki, the Flynn effect, unavoidable technological dynamics (that Sue poo-poo’s as ‘a bad thing’).
    It’s an exciting subject! When not dumbed down by NO!-it-all liberals.
    Someone once said that I.Q. should stand for “Interest Quotient”.
    I totally agree.

  32. 32 Mark from Australia
    March 4, 2008 at 00:48

    Two thinfgs occur to me:

    1) What needs to be learned has changed, but the curriculum (defined by our less-than-brightest minds) has noit really changed. The point is that technology has altered what we need to know to operate effectively in socety (eg. we all now have calculators, as mentioned above), but we continue to stress ‘basic’ skills to a point beyond reason… We do need ‘basic skills’ in order to understand the technology (and operate it), but we probably need to alter the emphasis to give more weight to modern usages.
    2) Kids are moving with the changes in technology: eg. they are becoming more visually oriented, rather than text oriented, because vision is now what is focused on by technology (the ‘video phone’), rather than books. We (they) no longer sit and read, when the video is available. This is aa perfectly legitimate and sensible response to a changing environment. We are all of the wrong generatiom to undergo the changes ourselves! I don’t think ‘intelligence’ per se is decreasing (my kids seem fast, very fast)…

  33. March 4, 2008 at 01:31

    Not everyone needs a college education, nor does the nation need everyone to have a college education. But, IF America is to become and to be the democracy it says it is, then America must have a truly literate and concerned citizenry. This means citizens who know HOW to read and are committed to knowing what is happening in their country and in the world. This means citizens who know HOW to think and know HOW to discriminate between options in the discharge of their civic duties and privileges. This means a majority of well educated, thoughtful, concerned citizens. Today more than ever before, it is relevant upon each of us to read, to know, to heed the words of President Ike Eisenhower spoken at his Farewell Address to the Nation in 1961, at the conclusion of his eight-year presidency:
    “… In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.
    We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together.”
    (access the full Address online through a Google)

  34. March 5, 2008 at 21:53

    Right or wrong, Jacoby offered little evidence in her article to support her arguments. See more here: http://tropophilia.com/2008/03/05/whoa-whoa-whoa-dunces/

  35. 35 George USA
    March 6, 2008 at 04:08


    “Dear Lovemore: I hate to break it to you, but the devil is just as fictional as God is. Neither exist.”


    Almost daily you rant against God, Christ, the Bible and Christians.

    Here is a challenge for you Steve.

    It is simple-

    By yourself,

    ask God to answer you:

    Just Say-


    This is Steve – If you are there God please answer so I will know You.

    When God answers respond-

    “God have mercy on me.”


    God will take it from there.

    Try it.

    You have nothing to lose and everything to gain.

  36. 36 Dennis Young, Jr.
    May 9, 2008 at 04:24

    i think we are getting dumber…..with all due respect!

    dennis from madrid, united states of america

  37. 37 Charles
    December 4, 2008 at 15:22

    As a man who teaches children at a private school, yes, out youth is certainly getting dumber is some respects.
    Knowing useless facts is not what Im talking about. I belive out youth is dumber in terms of family values, respect to others and, knowledge of American history. Its important to know where we came from as a nation, and even if you dont agree with our history and its not P.C. for you, its still important to know the history of your country.
    About family values, children are not taught respect and displine by thier parents. The parents leave all that responsibility to the teachers, feeling its thier job. Its all starts in the home and how you raise your kids, even something as simple as spending time together for dinner, ect.

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