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Old 2010-09-08, 19:34   Link #61
Vexx
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Originally Posted by Reckoner View Post
The "defiantly uninformed" is something I agree with. It is something I've seen in many states, red or blue.
My wife says she can't take me to parties because I end up skewering the soundbites of thinking on both sides . Few people bother to actually check out in a critical way what they babble. My younger son is even more dangerous - he's on his college debate team and I've watched him rip such people to shreds. Keeps us on our toes in dinner conversation.
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Old 2010-09-09, 06:38   Link #62
Geezle
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Originally Posted by Vexx View Post
Hmmm, maybe the cultural value that cuts across all spectrums in the US is .... "living in self-denial of the truth" and "defiantly uninformed" no matter what the subject.

Now I'm starting to sound like H.L. Mencken or Mark Twain.... both had extremely illuminating thoughts on the US that still apply today.
And yet Clemens and Mencken were products of American culture.

The fact is that the bulk of the populations in most cultures is just deadweight that is along for the ride and nothing more. Their sole contribution to humanity is passing along genetic material to posterity that the species might need someday. This isn't something unique to America.

As to "self-denial of the truth", I think that is a little unfair. The ignorant don't have that much volition. Stupid kids grow up being told by their teachers and parents that they are not dumb, just that they learn differently. They are taught from the earliest days that their lazy and ill-conceived opinions are just as valuable as those of students with real ability who make an effort. Teachers are not to blame, however, as their deception is just a desperate and doomed effort to shelter and nurture what little motivation that the little chicken-brains show up in class with. No effort is too great in the service of propping up the 'fragile' self images of the lazy and clueless.

Lest you worry that these cretins face a shocking realization when they leave high school and enter the "Real World", rest assured that the Real World, American style, is remarkably idiot safe. Whole industries exist to cater to their fractured grasp of reality. There are "news" networks that deliver their product with enough flashy graphics and in small enough bite-sized, black and white, declarative sentence chunks that even the most clueless with practically no attention span whatsoever can watch, be entertained, and then maintain the pretense that they are informed. The intellectually inert are assured that the opinions of the "elites" (those with a lifetime of dedication to sharpening and focusing their minds and equipping themselves with a wealth of knowledge with which to inform their views) are no more valid than those of a bullet-headed plumber's helper or an Alaskan backwoods drama queen. In case reality does happen to intrude on their simple little worlds, plentiful and cheap supplies of Paxill and Zanax can be had from the local WalMart to fortify their delusions.

Again, America has no monopoly on stupidity. What is unusual among existing post-Stone Age cultures, however, is the degree to which the society's most indolent and unsophisticated members are encouraged to remain ignorant of their own true natures. The result is large crowds of loud people with small vocabularies stating their worthless opinions with all the unshakable conviction of a religious faith. Chinese losers, for example, have the decency to acknowledge that a trained athlete will probably be stronger and/or more agile than them, and that a trained academic will probably understand matters in his field of study better. Not so the American moron, but the American loser gets a lot of help in maintaining his delusion.

Uh oh... upon rereading my post, it seems that I have made an argument for stupidity being an American cultural value after all... damn... Well, as bad as some aspects of American culture are, please remember that it is still a place where misfits like Clemens and Mencken can thrive.

Last edited by Geezle; 2010-09-09 at 06:47. Reason: Typos...
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Old 2010-09-09, 11:10   Link #63
Vexx
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Heh.... that was beautiful.
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Old 2010-09-09, 11:40   Link #64
ChainLegacy
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There should be courses required from a very young age on epistemology... Anything to get rid of the horribly backwards notion that people are 'entitled to opinions...' It is the biggest cop-out I've ever seen, but it seems the majority adhere strictly to it (as it gives them the ability to hold on to any idea regardless of contrary evidence).
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Old 2010-09-09, 11:50   Link #65
Vexx
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Originally Posted by ChainLegacy View Post
There should be courses required from a very young age on epistemology... Anything to get rid of the horribly backwards notion that people are 'entitled to opinions...' It is the biggest cop-out I've ever seen, but it seems the majority adhere strictly to it (as it gives them the ability to hold on to any idea regardless of contrary evidence).
That's something that gets the crap kicked out of it in American school debate club or debate teams. Unsupported assertions are eaten as snacks. Opinions with no basis are roasted. Its very refreshing compared to the "every little angel's utterances are precious" nonsense that infests the rest of the school environment.

I ran a chess club in elementary school settings for a while. My favorite comments came from mothers who just wished no one had to lose and couldn't we modify the rules? Yeah, I had kids cry when they lost - but I'd take them aside and work with them on *why* they lost and what they could learn from it to improve. Interestingly, it was often the best players who cried because they were so intent on winning.

My son used to come home pissed because he had an assignment that went like this. Choose one:
1) Research the Magna Carta and why it came to be.
2) Write a short skit that communicates the signing of the MC and perform it.
3) Draw a picture about old times with your Crayolas that we keep for you because you might lose them.

Any choice could get you the same "A"... thus negating the entire value. The universities have figured this out, so GPA/diploma alone is pretty much worthless in submitting your resume to them.

That's some insight into what American Culture is *now*... no matter what it used to be.

Last edited by Vexx; 2010-09-09 at 15:49.
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Old 2010-09-09, 14:59   Link #66
Reckoner
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ChainLegacy View Post
There should be courses required from a very young age on epistemology... Anything to get rid of the horribly backwards notion that people are 'entitled to opinions...' It is the biggest cop-out I've ever seen, but it seems the majority adhere strictly to it (as it gives them the ability to hold on to any idea regardless of contrary evidence).
Perhaps a course like this just combined with a course in logic. But probably even this would not be enough.

Often times when I'm having discussions with people and I point out that something they say is a baseless assertion, they just fume at the mouth and blow smoke.

People refuse to acknowledge that they could be ignorant or completely stupid about certain subjects just because maybe mommy or daddy, or a friend, or some random news anchors, or what have you said some sound-bite that they like to cling to.

The one thing that I know about myself to be different to many of my peers, is that I know I'm a complete dumb ass about many things, but I can at least acknowledge it.
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Old 2010-09-09, 15:49   Link #67
Vexx
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I write in the margins on Zogby polls

People never seem to know how to respond to, "I don't have enough useful information on that topic to have an opinion I can support. I'll get back to you on that." I'd like to say this is a universal problem rather than an American problem. But oddly, I can pick "random person from Canada or Europe" and they're a bit more likely to have thought about a topic than say, "wha?" ... unless the topic is Survivor or some other "bread and circuses" diversion.
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Old 2010-09-09, 15:59   Link #68
Kaijo
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Reckoner View Post
Perhaps a course like this just combined with a course in logic. But probably even this would not be enough.
Two things that should be required for everyone before graduating from high school: passing a class on Logic and Critical Thinking Skills. Hopefully including a healthy amount of skepticism.

In fact, as a default, kids should be taught to be skeptical of any information. Run them through propaganda over and over, until they respond to it by finding the flaws, or being able to form the right questions. Their default position should be to question everything anyone says, until it can be proven.

The biggest issue with American culture (or indeed, almost any culture), is that people allow themselves to be swayed by propaganda. Fox News blares out the right wing hypocritical rhetoric, contradicting themselves on a continual and consistent basis, and yet are the #1 "news" station as far as viewers go. Why? Because they present it in a flashy manner, ask leading questions to drive viewers to the conclusions they want them to reach.

Question everything.
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Old 2010-09-09, 17:10   Link #69
Tri-ring
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One feature of individualism is that it promotes the idea that you are the most valuable(to one's self) that may lead to the false sense that you are somehow infallible.
The infallible individuals when presented with a strong idea, self-righteousness becomes rampant especially when something like religion/ideology backs it up thus making it easier to agitate a crowd.

This is one of the distinctive characteristics of the USA people in general.
You can see it in various past movements. (Tea baggers, animal rightist groups, Evangelist Christians, Anti war demonstrators, Pro war demonstrators,etc.)
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Old 2010-09-09, 21:22   Link #70
Geezle
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Originally Posted by Reckoner View Post
The one thing that I know about myself to be different to many of my peers, is that I know I'm a complete dumb ass about many things, but I can at least acknowledge it.
Ha!

It's quite ironic, but this is a canonical prerequisite for real enlightenment. The corollary being that those who lack any doubt whatsoever about their own infallibility are the most certain to be completely wrong.

Weird, ain't it?
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Old 2010-09-09, 21:50   Link #71
Kudryavka
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What happened to culture being what you eat for lunch and which religion you follow? Not what people's flaws are? Getting a bit out of hand, methinks. Hey OP, do you know the answer to your question now? That America isn't some homogeneous landscape? You'll need to narrow down your location if you want a better answer.
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