Just how stupid are Americans? (Interview with Rick Shenkman)

January 13, 2012

It’s a provocative title for a post, but it really just refers to a book entitled “Just How Stupid Are We?” (where “we” clearly refers to Americans) by Rick Shenkman, Associate Professor of History at George Mason University. A brief article by Shenkman on the same theme can be found here and the video clip below contains a relevant  interview with Shenkman.

His account of the causes, consequences, and solutions to American ignorance  is highly interesting. Among the causal factors is the death of civics education in America and the introduction of the TV in 1965, which in turn has led to the death of newspapers. The most important concern that Shenkman raises, and which needs to be taken seriously, is that American democracy cannot possibly function properly with the current level of public ignorance on most matters political. For instance, 1n 2008, after five years of bombing Iraq, apparently 1 in 7 Americans could locate Iraq on a world map.

Given that the US is the world’s sole superpower, and that decisions taken or not taken by the US government have significant implications for people around the world, American ignorance is not merely a national issue; it’s a global problem, perhaps one of the greatest problems facing the planet today.


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