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The Dumbing Effect

  1. Jun 2, 2004 #1
    To take a break from the serious politics of the thread, I thought I'd like to introduce a World Affair us intellectuals at the PF should REALLY be worried about - the fact that the world is so dumb and it appears that it is becoming fashionable to be dumb?

    Recently I read an article in the newspaper (can't link you - the paper doesn't have online articles!) that proposed that glamour is not enough nowadays - being dumb is the guarenteed path to success.

    Take a look at the Hilton sisters (Paris and Nikki). Both stinking rich and dumber than anything. They're icons here in 2004. Jordan, the British model with a more than ample frontal protrusion :wink: who guys go gaga over is being sighted as a role model for young girls! Yeah, you guessed it, she's as intelligent as the Hilton sisters. Also, Britney Spears was quoted as saying she didn't know who John Lennon was! :eek: :eek: :eek:

    Worse, look at MTV. Jackass and The Osbournes have no redeeming values whatsoever!

    I think the nail in the coffin is the new (at least in SA) series on MTV Rich Girls. Nothing more than a show showing off how the rich offspring of fashion moguls spend money with gay abandon and try to pass themselves of as normal teens!

    Sorry, this just doesn't gel with me. As an academic, I just can not understand this new phenomena. It just shouldn't make sense!!!!!!!
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 2, 2004 #2
    Dumbing down, trying to act "urban", etc. It's always been cool.
    The kids who are intelligent are 'square', fonzy (I hope even you guys in SA know him!) gets the chicks for being a rebel.

    It's nothing new, except on the massive scale that it has been assimilated into the mass media. When I see a volvo commercial rapping at me saying "yo, get on down to yo deala' and check it out" I know things have gone too far!

    The loss of the ability to speak proper English gets to me more than anything. The combined 'dumbing' of the language by immigrants who are not expected to speak the language on par with native citizens, with the 'dumbing' of the language by native citizens who think that is cool, makes for a highly disturbing idea of what is to come.

    I have no solution to this except family involvement.
  4. Jun 2, 2004 #3


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    Although I don't watch T.V. very often, I was thinking about this the other day. I remember 30ish years ago, and then again in the 50's I think...the popular shows were those that were idiotic comedic types shows. I think that perhaps the reason for this is that people just want something they can relax and laugh at when there is so much other seriousness in their lives.
  5. Jun 3, 2004 #4


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    The shows are funny because they are dumb. Its not like people watch them because they can relate to them. And kat's right - they don't get much dumber than "I Love Lucy" or "The 3 Stooges".
  6. Jun 3, 2004 #5
    TV spots and shows target on IQ-level of 12 years old. Sequences are always short (max. 90 seconds).

    Every generation has icons. In most cases there is business behind, and strategy for 'economic' trendsetting.
    Internet will has more and more influence in this (less efforts to have a global audience, but also much more offer).
  7. Jun 3, 2004 #6

    jimmy p

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    I know I havent been around long, but could you give examples of "dumb" icons from the earlier decades?
  8. Jun 3, 2004 #7
    Blondie (Debbie Harry), Marilyn Monroe.
    In every generation you will find dumb, smart, bright, ..., in essence it's not how they are but how they appear (and are projected). Role-models.
  9. Jun 3, 2004 #8
  10. Jun 4, 2004 #9
    Yeah but TV has always been just barely sub-moronic. Pick up a freekin' book.
  11. Jun 5, 2004 #10


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    Many comedians worked off the smart dumb one versus the dumb wise guy. Abbot and Costello, for example. Or Ricky and Lucie on I love Lucie. This was all role playing, tickling a particular funny bone in US culture.

    Remember that until the great depression (1929-1940) , working class kids left school after the sixth grade to get jobs. So the majority of the population was poorly educated, and the prosperous folks who went to high school made fun of the ignorant ones. H.L. Mencken in turn made fun of the half educated middle class, whom he called the Booboisey. His standard of education was European, with Latin and Greek and classical music.
  12. Jun 5, 2004 #11


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    Not to give away my age, but I spent the first 7 years of my life huddling around the family's radio prior to my father getting our first TV in 1947. One radio show was called “My friend Erma” starring Marie Wilson. Later the show had a short stint on TV. Ms. Wilson portrayed Erma who was a beautiful “dumb blonde”. The reason I recall this show in particular was that the star had a real-life IQ over 180. As an aside, I recall that Hedy Lamarr, one of Hollywood’s all-time beautiful actresses, invented the concept of “frequency hopping”. She patented the invention and gave it to the US Navy during WW2. It eventually became the means to provide secure communications.
  13. Jun 5, 2004 #12

    Ivan Seeking

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    Yes, I think it is a big mistake to believe that TV or the entertainment industry has much to do with the average person. We all grew up laughing at the notion that Father Know's Best, or that you can Leave It To Beaver. Does anyone really think that in the 1950s and 60's, women did housework in high heels and evening dresses?

    Then TV sought realism which of course had nothing to do with reality. Reaslism is where more disasters hit one small group of people than has ever been seen by the entire state of Michigan in the last century.

    Its entertainment; that's all.

    As for success, okay, maybe a few slimy dummies get rich in spite of themselves, and some people are born into wealth, but making it in the real world is very, very hard. Have no doubt that there are plenty of really smart people out there. What is scary is when they are both smart and slimy. You can never turn your back on one of those pathetic types.
  14. Jun 5, 2004 #13


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    The last time local call-in talk radio did a show on stupidity, a caller told of having been on the phone to an employee of a mail-order company based in an eastern state of the United States. The caller had been told by the employee that the ordered items could not be shipped to New Mexico, because "we only ship to places in the U.S."
  15. Jun 6, 2004 #14
    Did the call go over a 800 (free) or a 900 (for-high-pay)number?
    If it was a 900 number the mailorder employee was smart.
  16. Jun 17, 2004 #15
    I think the basic urges/emotions of most humans is not going to be changed with any amount of brainwashing adverts etc for a very long time.. , does not matter how much we would like to change this fact sometimes.
    Last edited: Jun 17, 2004
  17. Jun 23, 2004 #16


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    People have always been just as dumb as they are now, just when someone more intelligent begins to mature and outgrow them, they start to notice it more. I would suspect that anyone who finds the idea of a physics forum appealing is of higher than average intelligence, so of course we're all going to agree that the rest of the world is filled with idiots. We just seem to have more laws that protect them from themselves, so they don't even have an opportunity to learn from their mistakes anymore.
  18. Jun 23, 2004 #17


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    I wonder what correlation, if any, there is between intelligence and ability to handle one's money. I know a married man who is well-read in his particular area of occupational know-how, so he can't be a dummy, but the guy lives paycheck-to-paycheck. In fact, after spending close to $4,000 on one of those big, fancy TV sets for his family a couple years ago, buying it on a credit deal where he didn't have to make any payments for the first year, he is now getting bill-collector calls for this or that thing, and is even in danger of losing his modest residence to foreclosure.
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