We live in a world where articles promoting critical thinking fail to use proper grammar.
However, if you do not have a knowledge base from which to consider a situation, it is hard think critically about it.
Apart from the appalling self-referential glitch, some of the numbers stunned me.
Take for example the facts that polls show over half of American adults don’t know which country dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima, or that 30 percent don’t know what the Holocaust was.
The 21st century is a media- and distraction-laden culture in the US and western Europe, at least. Here in the US, many people have opted to be entertained by the distractions rather than informed by the available media. They are either indifferent to current events or simply lazy ... OR they gain their information from the pulpit rather than the news desk and let that drive their decision-making processes (if you can call them that).
That last factor is quite critical as well. Some churches are quite responsible as regards statements made by their leaders regarding current national and world happenings, but many of the evangelical variety clearly have their own agenda and axe to grind. Their point of view can hardly be said to be objective and frequently not very rational, either. Some of the preachers standing in those pulpits are depending on this as well, as it is one of their purposes to shear the sheep of their congregations and therewith gain more power for their purposes.
So whether from moral turpitude or religious indoctrination, you have people who don't know the necessary facts of their current day, who think they know but are misinformed, or who simply don't care. They were predicted by the character "Arthur Jensen" of the decidedly black comedy, Network:
One vast and ecumenical holding company, for whom all men will work to serve a common profit, in which all men will hold a share of stock. All necessities provided, all anxieties tranquilized, all boredom amused. [emphasis mine]
Here, though, it's not Big Brother but Big Corporation keeping an eye on things. It's control is not so thorough as what Winston Smith lived under, but the effects of its manipulation are little different. The problem is that those of us who DO bother to keep ourselves informed and aware of the current situation are badly outnumbered by the apparent majority who don't and make their voting decisions more by feel and emotion than they do by rational analysis. And this is precisely what Howard Beale of the above-mentioned Network was warning about when he urged people to get "mad as hell," so they wouldn't take it any more.
It might have been wiser if, rather than appealing to emotion, he suggested they get smart as hell, to get informed and educated and competent. At this point, I wonder if it's too late for that.
Is it too late to get smart collectively? Good question, Loren.
These statistics are very scarey, Ruth. You know what Santayana said about history. The students don't know English usage when they enter college, too. They are the most no nothing generation yet.
I like the riff on the Santayana quote, often misattributed to Mark Twain:
"History may not repeat itself but it does rhyme"
"...the earliest published source yet located is by Joseph Anthony Wittreich in Feminist Milton (1987)..."
--from Wikiquote's talk page on "History"
Those that do not know their history see nothing unique about their present and can't imagine what their future might be.
Which is kinda scary.
It is scary Ruth. My daughter is a journalism major with a history minor. Her teacher in high school used to call her a word-nerd. lol. She LOVES to learn about history. She can't do math to save her life, but not from lack of trying. Our family is missing the math-gene I swear!
I can't believe how many people you can talk to in real life and come away thinking they couldn't really be that dumb, could they? I just had it happen with a cashier at the grocery store today. My husband went to school with her son. We were talking about the weather, and she said "I wonder what Mr. Al Gore thinks about all this snow?! Global-warming, yeah, right!" I was about to set her straight, and I thought , forget it. I've heard other ignorant things from her. She's beyond learning.
Melinda, your daughter, with her training and her gutsy Mom's spirit, is the hope of our future.
Thanks Joan! I find the older I get, the gutsier I get, and the fewer friends I have in "real" life, because we just don't have anything in common anymore.
I know. One get's climate change ignorance burnout, especially since the ignorance is so often willful ignorance. On the other hand, there's a principle of frequency. The more people hear an opinion or fact from different sources, the more they are influenced, even when at first this isn't apparent.
My first husband never drank cranberry juice. I tried to tell him helps a bladder infection, but he discounted what I said. A couple of days later he had heard ads for it, and all of a sudden he changed his mind. If someone hears something six times, it begins to stick. They start to take it seriously.
I too find myself passing up opportunities to educate on climate change, sometimes. You have to be a bit aggressive, rude even, to contradict a stranger. But don't think that act has no effect. Every time you educate someone about the difference between "global warming" framing, to point out that climate destabilization is a more accurate description because of extreme weather, it prepares them to learn later.
Ruth, you were one of the first ones to call attention to climate change on this site and it made a tremendous different in my attention, and I assume in others' as well. The way you presented the materials, the clarity of your message, could not be denied. We had to pay attention. A storm is bad enough, but a storm in the night must be terrifying. The same with climate change, if we know it is coming, at least we can be prepared for the dark of night events.
I agree with Joan, Ruth. You have taught us a lot about climate change here on AN. On vacation my brother-in-law brushed it off saying he doesn't believe it will happen for a billion years. I just ordered another drink and made myself not argue with him. My Mom took us all on that vacation, and I didn't want to ruin anything for her. I can't talk to him about religion, climate change, or politics. Ugh!