Dumb and Dumber: Are Americans Hostile to Knowledge?

  • Thread starter Andre
  • Start date
  • Tags
    Knowledge
In summary, the conversation discusses various instances where people have demonstrated a lack of knowledge or understanding, including a teacher who did not know the capital of Hungary, a Miss America contestant who mistakenly answered "the Universe" as the object with the greatest mass in our solar system, and the American public's general lack of historical knowledge. The conversation also touches on the idea of looking forward as a society and the potential consequences of forgetting or ignoring past mistakes. Ultimately, the conversation highlights the importance of continuously learning and staying informed.
  • #1
4,311
74
link

...Selected from a third-grade geography curriculum, the $25,000 question asked: “Budapest is the capital of what European country?”

Ms. Pickler threw up both hands and looked at the large blackboard perplexed. “I thought Europe was a country,” she said. Playing it safe, she chose to copy the answer offered by one of the genuine fifth graders: Hungary. “Hungry?” she said, eyes widening in disbelief. “That’s a country? I’ve heard of Turkey. But Hungry? I’ve never heard of it.” ...

Well, if I asked a Dutch PhD which the capital of Alaska would be and correcting the wrong answer, Anchorage, he might reply: You know? You know? No, I don't know, do you? :rolleyes:

Bad joke, anyway, but then again:

9/11... 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.”

She blaims a lot of things but what to do about it?
 
Physics news on Phys.org
  • #2
Bluto: Over? Did you say "over"? Nothing is over until we decide it is! Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor? Hell no!

Otter: Germans?

Boon: Forget it, he's rolling.
 
  • #3
American's knowledge of history is pretty abysmal, I'd have to agree.

But, optimist that I am, I see a bright side to it. We look forward as a people, not backward, and I would like to believe we are quick to forgive. Or maybe we're just quick to forget...!

That's why when we get involved in such places like the Middle East, we can't understand something like the Shia-Sunni divide. They carry with them memories of slights and offenses from years, even centuries, ago. It's mysterious to us how people can live side-by-side for millennia, and even intermarry, yet hate each other with such passion.
 
  • #4
Tom Mattson said:
Bluto: Over? Did you say "over"? Nothing is over until we decide it is! Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor? Hell no!

That's closer to reality than most Yanks realize. Hitler declared war on the US the day before Pearl Harbour. That's the only reason they quit selling arms to him and moved into Europe. :rolleyes:
 
  • #5
The current Miss America was on that show Wolram and her question was "What object in our solar system has the greatest mass? She reasoned it out and answered "The Universe". Then one of the students answered "The Milky Way" and she cringed, realizing her mistake and said, "The Milky Way, of course!".

To be fair, she was pretty smart. I'm sure I'd get a brain freeze in front of cameras and an audience. But it's obvious that a lot of people slept through most of school.

Here's the "Are you a 5th Grader" online game with questions from the show.

http://www.scholastic.com/5thgrader/
 
Last edited by a moderator:
  • #6
Try this one on for size. :rofl:

 
Last edited by a moderator:
  • #7
That is still painful to watch.
 
  • #8
How dare you say we're hostile to knowledge?! Who told you that?! We don't need to hear no high-fallutin stuff from you smarty pants! Now go take your knowledge somewhere else!

:biggrin:

(More seriously, these game shows make their money by picking on the exceptionally stupid. If most people weren't smarter than that to enjoy the cruel humor in it, I don't think anyone would find those shows worth watching.)
 
  • #9
Tom Mattson said:
Try this one on for size. :rofl:

That's brutal.

But she does qualify to be president, when she reaches 35.
 
Last edited by a moderator:
  • #10
I came here at 3 months of age and I'll never qualify to be President for that reason. Bleah.

But I have a question. How do they filter smart people out of those shows? I mean, can't someone just pretend to be a dolt and then completely sweep the place?
 
  • #11
Astronuc said:
But she does qualify to be president, when she reaches 35.

Well, it could only be an improvement over that moron who's in there now. At least she looks good.
 
  • #12
Will she when she's 35?
 
  • #13
35 makes her a mere child by my standards. She's got to still look a lot better than most women in my age group (with the obvious exceptions of Evo and Hypatia). Roughly estimating that she's 20, that would make me 66 when she's 35, so I'm thinking that she'd still be pretty hot. (If she doesn't die of stupidity before then.)
 
  • #14
lisab said:
American's knowledge of history is pretty abysmal, I'd have to agree.

But, optimist that I am, I see a bright side to it. We look forward as a people, not backward, and I would like to believe we are quick to forgive. Or maybe we're just quick to forget...!

But to look forward you have to make sure not to repeat history. Especially bad history. So even if you want to paint the American population as "futuristic" people, which I would disagree with, then this sort of thinking would only make us relive history.
 
  • #15
Poop-Loops said:
I came here at 3 months of age and I'll never qualify to be President for that reason. Bleah.

But I have a question. How do they filter smart people out of those shows? I mean, can't someone just pretend to be a dolt and then completely sweep the place?

The biggest deception of these game shows is they get these specialists on who only deal with specific fields on a day to day basis, and then if they don't win a million dollars then by god, those people must be stupid! It's easy to forget material from 3rd grade when your whole career is dealing with a specialized field of work. I'm not saying that this is what the viewing audience gets suckered into, but I feel like this is sort of the "anti-intellectual" response these game shows may secretly want to get out of people.
 
  • #16
Bluto: Seven years of college down the drain.
 
  • #17
LightbulbSun said:
The biggest deception of these game shows is they get these specialists on who only deal with specific fields on a day to day basis, and then if they don't win a million dollars then by god, those people must be stupid!

Agreed, except for the deity bit. People keep telling me that I should go on 'Jeapardy' since I usually get the answers before the contestants... but I don't have a couple of million people watching me. Anyhow, just when I'm feeling good about it, some category like Yankee history or 13th Century Russian literature pops up and I'm totally screwed.
 
  • #18
Danger said:
Agreed, except for the deity bit. People keep telling me that I should go on 'Jeapardy' since I usually get the answers before the contestants... but I don't have a couple of million people watching me. Anyhow, just when I'm feeling good about it, some category like Yankee history or 13th Century Russian literature pops up and I'm totally screwed.

Yeah, when you get put on the spot like that your mind seems to go blank even on the questions you do know the answers to. I just get tired of all these ad promos where they hype it up so much like "oh my god can this scientist who has analyzed quantum mechanics be smarter than a 5th grader?!" This just creates a terrible assumption if we reversed the roles: "oh my god can this 5th grader understand the basic principles of quantum mechanics?!" But no one expects a 5th grader to be that sophisticated unless they're a prodigy. But of course a specialist must know every single bit of information he learned 25-50 years ago. I think familiarity of the material creates a general bias too. Of course a 5th grader learning 5th grade material on a daily basis will be able to retain more of the information than a specialist who's been out of elementary school for generations.
 
  • #19
WHaaaaaaaaa whhaaaaaaaaaa whhhaaaaaaaaaaThere are dumb people EVERYWHERE, not just America. How many Europeans know all of the countries they imperialized and how many millions of people they killed?
 
  • #20
gravenewworld said:
There are dumb people EVERYWHERE

This is an axiom of mankind, but the distribution is not equal.
 
  • #21
It's pretty much a given that most people in the world are either under-educated or just plain stupid. I place myself in the former category (and frequently find myself in the latter :redface:).
It does give me a peculiar outlook on SETI. Even if there is an advanced civilization out there (which I firmly believe), how many members of it would actually be smart enough to contact us? Any species with decent population control and our proportion of idiots wouldn't have enough scientists to carry out the project.
 

1. What is the premise of "Dumb and Dumber: Are Americans Hostile to Knowledge?"

The book examines the cultural attitudes and behaviors in the United States that contribute to a lack of interest in and respect for knowledge and intellectual pursuits.

2. What evidence is presented in the book to support the claim that Americans are hostile to knowledge?

The book provides a range of examples and data, including surveys and studies, that demonstrate a lack of interest in education, declining reading rates, and anti-intellectual sentiments in American society.

3. Does the book suggest that all Americans are hostile to knowledge?

No, the book acknowledges that there are individuals and groups in the United States who value knowledge and prioritize education. However, it argues that there is a pervasive cultural attitude that devalues intellectualism.

4. What impact does the hostility to knowledge have on American society?

The book argues that the devaluation of knowledge and intellectualism has negative consequences for American society, including a decline in critical thinking skills, a lack of scientific literacy, and a widening gap between the educated and uneducated.

5. What solutions does the book propose to combat the hostility to knowledge in America?

The book suggests that promoting the value of education and knowledge, investing in quality education for all, and challenging anti-intellectual attitudes and behaviors can help combat the hostility to knowledge in America.

Similar threads

  • General Discussion
Replies
33
Views
5K
Replies
6
Views
3K
Back
Top