Thursday, August 26, 2010


"The popular mind is deep, and means a thousand times more than it explicitly knows," wrote the great but largely forgotten American philosopher, Josiah Royce.

But it's pretty damn hard to hold onto this belief and a lot easier to agree with The Opinionator:
It would be nice to dismiss the stupid things that Americans believe as harmless, the price of having such a large, messy democracy. Plenty of hate-filled partisans swore that Abraham Lincoln was a Catholic and Franklin Roosevelt was a Jew. So what if one-in-five believe the sun revolves around the earth, or aren’t sure from which country the United States gained its independence?

But false belief in weapons of mass-destruction led the United States to a trillion-dollar war. And trust in rising home value as a truism as reliable as a sunrise was a major contributor to the catastrophic collapse of the economy. At its worst extreme, a culture of misinformation can produce something like Iran, which is run by a Holocaust denier.

It’s one thing to forget the past, with predictable consequences, as the favorite aphorism goes. But what about those who refuse to comprehend the present?


Cheryl Rofer said...

Dumb is in the news today, and I was thinking about writing about it, too, Helmut. But since what I've found is already repetitive, and you've got the heart of it in this quote, I'll just provide some links.

Dumb in pictures from Newsweek. Seems excessive and unnecessary to me; will just encourage more dumb.

Building a Nation of Know-Nothings by Timothy Egan.

And it's probably not an accident.

Ignorance has always been the politician's friend. And there's been so much encouragement toward it; as you know, one of my pet peeves is people's belief that they (can't do/don't need to know) science and math. That's how trash like this lives its zombie existence.

helmut said...

Maybe we need a blog that just says really basic stuff in each post.

For example, a post titled "Wall": "if you run head first at a concrete wall, you are likely to hurt yourself badly."

Here's another example for a post titled "Water": "water is good for you."

And another for a post on "Handle": "Pulling the handle on the drawer opens the drawer."


Cheryl Rofer said...

I dunno...water is good for you if you drink it, but not too much. Bad for you if you breathe it.

That damn nuance.

helmut said...

OMG, you're right!!! Thanks for clarifying. We could have been sued!