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?
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: