title of this article, that an embarrassingly
high number of Americans believe that the sun
revolves around the Earth, is only one point
argued by the Washington Post’s Susan Jacoby, in
her attempt to prove that Americans are in
serious intellectual trouble, facing a virulent
mixture of anti-intellectualism,
anti-rationalism and low expectations.
What else is signaling that Americans are
becoming increasingly dumbed-down as a society?
- Attention spans are declining; Jacoby
suggests this is due to television and
videos. For instance, between 1968 and 1988,
the average sound bite on the news for a
presidential candidate dropped from 42.3
seconds to 9.8 seconds. By 2000, according
to a Harvard study, the daily candidate bite
was down to just 7.8 seconds.
- General knowledge is eroding. This is
evidenced not only by the fact that one in
five U.S. adults believe the sun revolves
around the Earth, but also many others.
Yet, it’s not bad enough that knowledge is
quickly declining in the United States. On top
of that, there is an arrogance about this lack
of knowledge, almost as if a good portion of the
population is saying, “We know we’re ignorant,
but we don’t care!”
Consider, for instance, that a 2006 survey by
National Geographic-Roper found that nearly half
of young Americans did not think it was
necessary to know the location of other
countries in which important news was being
made. And another one-third felt it was “not at
all important” to know a foreign language.
Why is this so concerning? Because …
Fear and Ignorance Go Hand in Hand
The more that you are kept in the dark, either
due to your own lack of inquisitiveness or the
workings of an unscrupulous industry (such as
the food industry that
markets junk foods and soda to children
though it is something they should be
consuming), the easier you are to manipulate.
And this is where a population of people who do
not possess their own knowledge base will easily
believe, for instance, that they must quickly
get vaccinated to protect themselves against an
imaginary pandemic like
the bird flu
, or that food from their local
supermarket is somehow safer than food grown by
a farmer down the road.
Obviously, most of you reading this do not fall
into this category, as you are actively seeking
more knowledge, just by reading this.
Well, it is my goal to help create a fundamental
paradigm shift in people’s consciousness about
health, and also about empowerment. Because the
more you know, the more you will realize that
you have the power to impart positive changes in
your life, and the lives of those around you.
And, ultimately, living a positive life is
really what it is all about.