1. Welcome to SportsJournalists.com, a friendly forum for discussing all things sports and journalism.

    Your voice is missing! You will need to register for a free account to get access to the following site features:
    • Reply to discussions and create your own threads.
    • Access to private conversations with other members.
    • Fewer ads.

    We hope to see you as a part of our community soon!

Are Americans hostile toward knowledge?

Discussion in 'Sports and News' started by Double Down, Feb 16, 2008.

  1. Double Down

    Double Down Well-Known Member

    Some of you might have seen this story today (it was No. 1 on the NYT most emailed list). Susan Jacoby wrote about book about how American culture, more and more, seems to think, like, knowing stuff is like, um, sooo stupid.


    http://The author of seven other books, she was a fellow at the library when she first got the idea for this book back in 2001, on 9/11.

    Walking home to her Upper East Side apartment, she said, overwhelmed and confused, she stopped at a bar. As she sipped her bloody mary, she quietly listened to two men, neatly dressed in suits. For a second she thought they were going to compare that day’s horrifying attack to the Japanese bombing in 1941 that blew America into World War II:

    “This is just like Pearl Harbor,” one of the men said.

    The other asked, “What is Pearl Harbor?”

    “That was when the Vietnamese dropped bombs in a harbor, and it started the Vietnam War,” the first man replied.

    At that moment, Ms. Jacoby said, “I decided to write this book.”

    The article also brings up Kellie Pickler's impressive performance on "Are You Smarter Than A Fifth Grader" during which she was asked 'Budapest is the capitol of what European country?' and she replied "I thought Europe was a country?" She also didn't know France was a country.

    How stupid are people around you?

    And why do you think it's the case?

    I mean, we mocked a presidential candidate (Gore) for coming off as too smart, and look what happened: We got what we deserve, frankly.

    Jacoby blames evangelicals in part, but also talks about the "teach to the test" mentality and takes some shots at the left too.

    It's not just limited to everyday joes and janes either. I've had editors and fellow reporters (at a major metro) who literally did not know where certain states were located, what the Bay of Pigs was, who wrote Grapes of Wrath or Old Man and the Sea, what Watergate was, etc.
  2. beefncheddar

    beefncheddar Guest

    I never understood how deficient American students were until my Journalism 101 class. Professor handed us a map of the U.S. and told us to name all the states. I'm still not sure why. Regardless, after class he stopped me to complement me on getting all 50.

    My response: People don't know their states? Seriously?
  3. Double Down

    Double Down Well-Known Member

    I once got into a discussion with an editor about the state of Montana (I think it was the natural progression from discussing the 49ers quarterback, Joe) and he said, "Where is Montana? Is that one of those Canadian providences?"
  4. sportschick

    sportschick Active Member

    That editor is Dead. To. Me.
  5. sportschick

    sportschick Active Member

    And in a double post, right before I moved out to Montana I went to the At&T store to see about canceling my service because I knew they didn't provide service there, the guy at the story said, "People live in Montana?" I walked out and came back another day when he wasn't there.
  6. Herbert Anchovy

    Herbert Anchovy Active Member

    According to a recent Reuters story, one in four Japanese high school students can't place North Korea on a map.

    That might be a country worth familiarizing yourself with geographically and otherwise. Japanese, American, Icelandic or Oceanic. Or whatever.
  7. MacDaddy

    MacDaddy Active Member

    I don't think there's any doubt Americans as a whole have a general disdain for knowledge.

    If only more people believed in the Faber College motto.
  8. PCLoadLetter

    PCLoadLetter Well-Known Member

    Actual conversation in my newsroom several years ago:

    Writer 1: Is Detroit a city or a state?
    Writer 2: It's a city.
    Writer 1: In Illinois, right?
    Writer 2: No, Michigan.
    Writer 1: Gawd, you're so SMART!
  9. Mystery_Meat

    Mystery_Meat Guest

    Eat Me?
  10. Smallpotatoes

    Smallpotatoes Well-Known Member

    A few months ago, I was watching a video of an interview with the late Arthur Jones, the man who invented Nautilus machines.
    He was a ninth-grade dropout.
    One of the things that he said was that a ninth-grade education in the 1930s was the equivalent of a Ph.D. today.
    In his autobiography, he wrote that if you took modern-day doctoral candidates and placed them in an elementary school classroom in 1930's Oklahoma or Texas, just about all of them would flunk.
    Do either of those statements seem like an exaggeration to anyone?
  11. GB-Hack

    GB-Hack Active Member

    It seems like it to me, although I know that academic standards, what with the allowance of use of textbooks, calculators and notes in English exams have diminished the standards of high school education.

    A while back, I saw the BBC do an experiment where they gave the editor of a London newspaper a standard "A" level English exam. He hadn't been to school in quite a while, and yet with the resources available to him was able to ace it.
  12. zeke12

    zeke12 Guest

    They're a ridiculous exaggeration.

    People are much, much smarter now than they were in 1930. What has changed is that the basis by which we define intelligence is much, much broader. There is no longer any accepted canon from which to delineate a base level of learning.

    But, anyway, the point is the attitude toward scholarship and intellectual curiousity, not the levels of actual intelligence.
Draft saved Draft deleted

Share This Page