P.Z. Myers concurs with Charles Pierce that Americans are turning into idiots

May 12, 2009 | By | 1 Reply More

P.Z. Myers concurs with Charles Pierce that Americans are turning into idiots.   Myers’ post springs from this passage from a new book by Pierce, How Stupidity Became a Virtue in the Land of the Free:

The rise of Idiot America, though, is essentially a war on expertise. It’s not so much antimodernism or the distrust of the intellectual elites that Richard Hofstader teased out of the national DNA, although both of these things are part of it. The rise of Idiot America today reflects — for profit, mainly, but also and more cynically, for political advantage and in the pursuit of power — the breakdown of the consensus that the pursuit of knowledge is a good. It also represents the ascendancy of the notion that the people we should trust the least are the people who know the best what they’re talking about. In the new media age, everybody is a historian, or a scientist, or a preacher, or a sage. And if everyone is an expert, then nobody is, and the worst thing you can be in a society where everybody is an expert is, well, an actual expert.


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Category: American Culture, Education, ignorance

About the Author ()

Erich Vieth is an attorney focusing on consumer law litigation and appellate practice. He is also a working musician and a writer, having founded Dangerous Intersection in 2006. Erich lives in the Shaw Neighborhood of St. Louis, Missouri, where he lives half-time with his two extraordinary daughters.

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  1. Tony Coyle says:

    I recall reading Mr Pierce's original essay a few years ago on a flight. It spurred quite a conversation between myself and my seatmate (a 'born again republican') since I couldn't help but exclaim in agreement, and moan with dismay at some of his examples.

    Despite my seatmates relative wealth and influence – we were both in first en route to the west coast – he insisted that American media was full of 'pussy liberals' and 'real Americans' were all god-loving born-again republicans. He was blind to reality (although he was certainly congruent with establishment 'reality' per the Bush administration: reality is what we decide it is).

    Blind to the reality of the Iraqi war.

    Blind to the reality of a government run by and for the obscenely wealthy.

    Blind to the sad fact of a country that requires disclaimers on everything (Your beverage is hot! Do not attempt this at home! Do not cover your head with this bag!) instead of education.

    Blind to the truly sad fact of education to a median that is declining every year (math & science scores lower than some third world countries).

    Blind to the fact that abstinence does not work. Blind to the fact that 'faith based initiatives' have no place in government.

    Blind to the fact that quality and popular are not synonymous.

    Blind to the fact that many people don't know what synonymous even means!

    And I was worried. My wife and I even seriously discussed returning to Europe (we had just returned to the states). What sort of environment was this for our kids?

    But we decided it was an environment that we could change.

    We stayed. Since then I try to have substantive conversations almost every day with whomever I meet. I may not change minds. But I hope I'll at least awaken some minds.

    Ignorance is curable. Stupidity isn't.

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