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Homer Simpson.

WilliamJB

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So commentators on a certain cable news network have enjoyed pointing out Cass Sunstein's claim that we're all Homer Simpson (i.e. we're dumb), and that other leading members of the Obama administration don't think much of the overall intelligence of the nation. Well, no one likes to be called stupid, but let's have a look at some of the facts, shall we:

"About 1 in 4 Americans can name more than one of the five freedoms guaranteed by the First Amendment (freedom of speech, religion, press, assembly and petition for redress of grievances.) But more than half of Americans can name at least two members of the fictional cartoon family, according to a survey."

"The study by the new McCormick Tribune Freedom Museum found that 22 percent of Americans could name all five Simpson family members, compared with just 1 in 1,000 people who could name all five First Amendment freedoms."

- Ignorant America: Just How Stupid Are We? | News & Politics | AlterNet

"Sandra Day O'Connor was the first woman appointed to the United States Supreme Court. Fewer than half of Americans could tell you her name during the length of her entire tenure. "

"In 2007, in the fifth year of the Iraq War, only 21% could name the secretary of defense, Robert Gates. Most Americans cannot name their own member of Congress or their senators."

- Tomgram: Rick Shenkman, American Stupidity | TomDispatch

"51% of Americans could not name the three branches of government."

- American Knowledge « The Professor

"only 13% of Americans tested could point Iraq out on a map of the world."

"58% of Americans know the Taleban and al-Qaeda were based in Afghanistan, compared with 84% of Britons, but only 17% of Americans can locate the country."

"34% of Americans know the tiny Marquesas Islands, where the last season of reality TV show "Survivor" was filmed, is located in the South Pacific. But only 30% could point to the location of New Jersey."

- BBC NEWS | Americas | Geography: The lost world

Now, I teach for a living, so this is probably my fault, but the next time Bill O'Reilly complains about how the "elites" think we're all a bunch of morons, take the time to ask, well, are we?
 

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No, "we" aren't morons. SOME people are morons. And that's their right.

Cass Sunstein really needs to get the hell out of people's lives. If you want to be stupid your whole life, do it. If you want to eat cheeseburgers until you have a heart attack, go for it. It's called FREEDOM.
 

Deuce

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No, "we" aren't morons. SOME people are morons. And that's their right.

Cass Sunstein really needs to get the hell out of people's lives. If you want to be stupid your whole life, do it. If you want to eat cheeseburgers until you have a heart attack, go for it. It's called FREEDOM.
How was she getting into your life, exactly? Nobody was attacking your freedom to eat a cheeseburger or be a moron. The idea is "Hey, we're pretty ignorant, on average, and we should probably figure out why and how to help eliminate that."

I can't imagine there are many people who actually chose to be ignorant. They very likely made choices to NOT fix their ignorance, but that's not the same thing. Also, I'm always one to point out that stupidity and ignorance are not the same thing. You can be a genius and still completely ignorant, or vice versa.
 
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Josie

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How was she getting into your life, exactly? Nobody was attacking your freedom to eat a cheeseburger or be a moron. The idea is "Hey, we're pretty ignorant, on average, and we should probably figure out why and how to help eliminate that."
She who? You obviously don't even have a clue.
 

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Let me see if I have this straight.

You stated that some commentators (Glenn Beck) on a certain cable news network (Fox News) have enjoyed pointing out Cass Sunstein's claim that we're all Homer Simpson (i.e. we're dumb) (true), and that other leading members of the Obama administration don't think much of the overall intelligence of the nation (also true).... and you feel the same way.

Not surprising.
 

WilliamJB

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Let me see if I have this straight.

You stated that some commentators (Glenn Beck) on a certain cable news network (Fox News) have enjoyed pointing out Cass Sunstein's claim that we're all Homer Simpson (i.e. we're dumb) (true), and that other leading members of the Obama administration don't think much of the overall intelligence of the nation (also true).... and you feel the same way.

Not surprising.
Well hey, since I'm not running for public office, yes, I am saying that. The truth isn't always pretty.

Care to take a stab at proving me wrong?
 

molten_dragon

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So commentators on a certain cable news network have enjoyed pointing out Cass Sunstein's claim that we're all Homer Simpson (i.e. we're dumb), and that other leading members of the Obama administration don't think much of the overall intelligence of the nation. Well, no one likes to be called stupid, but let's have a look at some of the facts, shall we:

"About 1 in 4 Americans can name more than one of the five freedoms guaranteed by the First Amendment (freedom of speech, religion, press, assembly and petition for redress of grievances.) But more than half of Americans can name at least two members of the fictional cartoon family, according to a survey."

"The study by the new McCormick Tribune Freedom Museum found that 22 percent of Americans could name all five Simpson family members, compared with just 1 in 1,000 people who could name all five First Amendment freedoms."

- Ignorant America: Just How Stupid Are We? | News & Politics | AlterNet

"Sandra Day O'Connor was the first woman appointed to the United States Supreme Court. Fewer than half of Americans could tell you her name during the length of her entire tenure. "

"In 2007, in the fifth year of the Iraq War, only 21% could name the secretary of defense, Robert Gates. Most Americans cannot name their own member of Congress or their senators."

- Tomgram: Rick Shenkman, American Stupidity | TomDispatch

"51% of Americans could not name the three branches of government."

- American Knowledge « The Professor

"only 13% of Americans tested could point Iraq out on a map of the world."

"58% of Americans know the Taleban and al-Qaeda were based in Afghanistan, compared with 84% of Britons, but only 17% of Americans can locate the country."

"34% of Americans know the tiny Marquesas Islands, where the last season of reality TV show "Survivor" was filmed, is located in the South Pacific. But only 30% could point to the location of New Jersey."

- BBC NEWS | Americas | Geography: The lost world

Now, I teach for a living, so this is probably my fault, but the next time Bill O'Reilly complains about how the "elites" think we're all a bunch of morons, take the time to ask, well, are we?
Not knowing these facts does not make one stupid. It could possibly make you ignorant, but I'm not even sure I'd go that far.

Most of the things you think people are stupid for not knowing are not relevant to our daily lives. And if someone did need to know them, it would take a computer and 30 seconds' work to find them out. So what is the point of retaining them in your memory?

Now I realize that many of the pop culture facts you mentioned also aren't relevant to our daily lives either. The difference there is that we hear about them a lot more, so those memories are constantly reinforced.

I'm a good example of this. I'm fairly intelligent. I breezed through high school with little effort. I graduated college summa cum laude with a bachelor's degree, and I currently work as an engineer. I'm no genius, but neither am I stupid.

I could name definitely name 4 of the 5 first amendment freedoms. I might have trouble with petition for the redress of grievances.
I probably couldn't tell you who the first female supreme court justice was. I'm not sure I could tell you who more than half of the current supreme court justices are.
I couldn't tell you who the secretary of defense was.
I do know who my congressional representative and senators are.
I can name the 3 branches of government
I could point out the general area of Iraq on a map, but I'm not sure I could pinpoint it. Same with Afghanistan.
I know exactly where New Jersey is.

On the other hand. I can tell you exactly who the 5 members of the Simpsons family are, and rattle off several dozen other supporting cast members on the show, as well as a ton of other useless information about them.
I could explain most of the rules for a game of Dungeons and Dragons to you without having to refer to any rulebooks.
I could explain the strategies for beating several popular computer games without having to look up any references.

The reason for this is that the facts in the first category don't really mean a lot to me. They don't come up much in my daily life, and for the most part, they don't have much of an effect on it. And I can look them up in 30 seconds if I need to know them.

The second category of facts are useless, but I deal with them on a much more regular basis.

There's no big secret here, and it doesn't prove that anyone is dumb. It's just the way our brains are wired.
 

Josie

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The argument shouldn't be "is America just a bunch of Homer Simpsons?"

The argument should be about the federal government "nudging" (Cass Sunstein's word) the "stupid" into doing the "smart" thing. Our country is full of people who are stupid and/or lazy and/or apathetic about nutrition and fitness. Should the federal government, then, pass laws banning sugary foods? Fast food restaurants? Trans fat? ....in order to "nudge" those "stupid" people into eating well? Is that freedom?
 

WilliamJB

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Not knowing these facts does not make one stupid. It could possibly make you ignorant, but I'm not even sure I'd go that far.

Most of the things you think people are stupid for not knowing are not relevant to our daily lives. And if someone did need to know them, it would take a computer and 30 seconds' work to find them out. So what is the point of retaining them in your memory?

Now I realize that many of the pop culture facts you mentioned also aren't relevant to our daily lives either. The difference there is that we hear about them a lot more, so those memories are constantly reinforced.

I'm a good example of this. I'm fairly intelligent. I breezed through high school with little effort. I graduated college summa cum laude with a bachelor's degree, and I currently work as an engineer. I'm no genius, but neither am I stupid.

I could name definitely name 4 of the 5 first amendment freedoms. I might have trouble with petition for the redress of grievances.
I probably couldn't tell you who the first female supreme court justice was. I'm not sure I could tell you who more than half of the current supreme court justices are.
I couldn't tell you who the secretary of defense was.
I do know who my congressional representative and senators are.
I can name the 3 branches of government
I could point out the general area of Iraq on a map, but I'm not sure I could pinpoint it. Same with Afghanistan.
I know exactly where New Jersey is.

On the other hand. I can tell you exactly who the 5 members of the Simpsons family are, and rattle off several dozen other supporting cast members on the show, as well as a ton of other useless information about them.
I could explain most of the rules for a game of Dungeons and Dragons to you without having to refer to any rulebooks.
I could explain the strategies for beating several popular computer games without having to look up any references.

The reason for this is that the facts in the first category don't really mean a lot to me. They don't come up much in my daily life, and for the most part, they don't have much of an effect on it. And I can look them up in 30 seconds if I need to know them.

The second category of facts are useless, but I deal with them on a much more regular basis.

There's no big secret here, and it doesn't prove that anyone is dumb. It's just the way our brains are wired.
I agree. These things are not necessarily perceived as being important to people's day to day lives and that's most definately why they probably don't know them. My point is that 1. these facts are important to your day to day life, especially if you're voting. If you don't understand the most basic structure of the political system, how can you possibly make an informed decision about its leadership? And 2. if you're going to tell me that it's ridiculous to claim that the majority of Americans smart, well-informed people, please back that up with something. Especially when all the evidence points in the opposite direction. Maybe if we weren't constantly told how smart and innovative and enterprising we all are, we might start expecting more from our media and political leadership. Instead, the dialogue is reduced to: "hey, that dude called you dumb!"
 

Deuce

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The argument shouldn't be "is America just a bunch of Homer Simpsons?"

The argument should be about the federal government "nudging" (Cass Sunstein's word) the "stupid" into doing the "smart" thing. Our country is full of people who are stupid and/or lazy and/or apathetic about nutrition and fitness. Should the federal government, then, pass laws banning sugary foods? Fast food restaurants? Trans fat? ....in order to "nudge" those "stupid" people into eating well? Is that freedom?
You're taking the word nudging to mean outright bans and mandates. That doesn't fit any definition of the word that I'm familiar with.
 

winston53660

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The argument shouldn't be "is America just a bunch of Homer Simpsons?"

The argument should be about the federal government "nudging" (Cass Sunstein's word) the "stupid" into doing the "smart" thing. Our country is full of people who are stupid and/or lazy and/or apathetic about nutrition and fitness. Should the federal government, then, pass laws banning sugary foods? Fast food restaurants? Trans fat? ....in order to "nudge" those "stupid" people into eating well? Is that freedom?
Would you like to look at the chemical content of say a big mac? Or of say a diet soda?
 

WilliamJB

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The argument shouldn't be "is America just a bunch of Homer Simpsons?"

The argument should be about the federal government "nudging" (Cass Sunstein's word) the "stupid" into doing the "smart" thing. Our country is full of people who are stupid and/or lazy and/or apathetic about nutrition and fitness. Should the federal government, then, pass laws banning sugary foods? Fast food restaurants? Trans fat? ....in order to "nudge" those "stupid" people into eating well? Is that freedom?
Is telling me I can't spend my days shooting heroin and snorting blow "taking away my freedom"? Well, technically, yes. But few would suggest that I should have that freedom.

Incidently, the number of deaths in 2000 attributed to all illicit drugs: 17,000.

Deaths attributed to poor diet and physical activity: 365,000.

- Annual Causes of Death in the United States | Drug War Facts
 

Josie

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You're taking the word nudging to mean outright bans and mandates. That doesn't fit any definition of the word that I'm familiar with.
Why don't you actually research Cass Sunstein and his book "Nudge" and then get back to me. You don't know what you're talking about.
 

Josie

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Would you like to look at the chemical content of say a big mac? Or of say a diet soda?
How does that have anything to do with what we're discussing?
 

Deuce

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Why don't you actually research Cass Sunstein and his book "Nudge" and then get back to me. You don't know what you're talking about.
5 seconds on google later...

Amazon.com: What do you mean by "nudge" and why do people sometimes need to be nudged?

Thaler and Sunstein: By a nudge we mean anything that influences our choices. A school cafeteria might try to nudge kids toward good diets by putting the healthiest foods at front. We think that it's time for institutions, including government, to become much more user-friendly by enlisting the science of choice to make life easier for people and by gentling nudging them in directions that will make their lives better.
Putting unhealthy food in the back? MY FREEDOM!
 

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How does that have anything to do with what we're discussing?
I think the chemical additives in these foods can be very dangerous and should be regulated since one needs a degree in food science to even get an inkling of what these chemicals are.
 

Josie

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Is telling me I can't spend my days shooting heroin and snorting blow "taking away my freedom"? Well, technically, yes. But few would suggest that I should have that freedom.

Incidently, the number of deaths in 2000 attributed to all illicit drugs: 17,000.

Deaths attributed to poor diet and physical activity: 365,000.

- Annual Causes of Death in the United States | Drug War Facts
Do you believe the government should ban foods that cause those 365,000 deaths?

And I think you should able to shoot herion or snort blow all you want. Just don't get into a car and kill someone while you're on it.
 

Josie

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I think the chemical additives in these foods can be very dangerous and should be regulated since one needs a degree in food science to even get an inkling of what these chemicals are.
I think most people know that sodas and cheeseburgers are bad for your health. It's not rocket science. If they want to kill themselves or balloon up to 400 pounds....why shouldn't they have that freedom?
 

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5 seconds on google later...



Putting unhealthy food in the back? MY FREEDOM!
Perhaps you should research what happens when the "nudge" isn't working.... ACTUAL reserach, not just a 5 second google search.
 

Deuce

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Perhaps you should research what happens when the "nudge" isn't working.... ACTUAL reserach, not just a 5 second google search.
Or maybe you could show me what outrageous thing this person wants instead of making cryptic remarks without supporting them.
 

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I think most people know that sodas and cheeseburgers are bad for your health. It's not rocket science. If they want to kill themselves or balloon up to 400 pounds....why shouldn't they have that freedom?
-- ammonium sulfate
-- ammonium chloride
-- sodium benzoate

Do you know what those are?
 

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