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Is We Getting More Stupider?

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Note: I’m skipping my usual pathos drenched birthday post about mortality, aging, and life still being exactly as awful in favor of the following…

I’m starting to think that we’re getting dumber, as a nation of people. The causes for this, mainly substitution of conjecture for truth and dropping standards for academic excellence, are pretty well documented in these cases. As being dumber seems to make you happier, you’d almost think that a nation of happy cretins would be preferrable to a nation of intelligent malcontents. On the other hand, how many times do you see the good-hearted doctors on House MD solve a case as opposed to the misanthropic eponymous genius? As far as doctors go, give me the asshole who can cure me.

The instance that brought this on was a minimum wage checkout employee at my local anti-union worker-hating conglomerate chain outlet. She smiled at me while she packed all of my purchased items, including a recyclable bag meant for receiving purchased items, into non-recyclable plastic bags. But she smiled at me the whole time, so everything must still be right and okay in the world, right?

It brought to mind the idea that hordes of people could siphon not only their political opinions, but also racism, other brands of misanthropy, horrid intolerance and ignorance, from some rich drug-addled boob on the radio. At the same time, these listeners purport their intelligence, and even try to argue with those who disagree with easily discountable falsehoods being spewn by their role model. Somehow, I don’t think a guy being paid upwards of $30 million a year by a large corporation, which has a record of squashing things that don’t conform to their idea of the utopian world, has your best interests at heart. Just saying.

In case you happen to be one of these truth dodging candidates for a “Flowers for Algernon” treatment, let me impart some words of wisdom. Important things usually can’t be imparted in a single sentence, except perhaps this one. Let’s take two examples of political misquoting.

1) John McCain saying that the US should be in Iraq for “100 years”. I personally think the guy is a boob for trying to appeal to the “bomb the swarthy towelheads” crowd, but let’s examine the context. McCain says that he was referring to residual troop levels as well, such as the ones we have retained since World War II.

2) Barack Obama saying he was what the world had been waiting for. Politics is a cult of personality, I understand, but let’s also look at this one. A whole bunch of pieces of that quote had been left out, the full quote reading as any other politician would have said.

Yes, I know some of you “try to cut the hedges with the lawn mower” crowd still think that one guy is awesome and one guy is horrible from some awful cut up sound bites or “critical” commentary by some half wit on a Pravda-like propaganda machine. I can’t possibly convince you to think that you’re wrong. But if you’re going to believe something, try to back it up by actually researching it. No, typing it into “fox news dot com” does not count. Check more than one resource, perhaps. Try to aquaint yourself with the world around you in more than a passing way, otherwise you’re just a muppet.

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