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Dumbing down
by Jan Sand
2007-01-15 09:31:46
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One of the most revered quotations of the American President Lincoln indicates that the people cannot be fooled indefinitely. It intimates that there is a basic wisdom in the general populace of a nation which will discover, in the long run, any scoundrels that make their way into power.

Joseph E. Levine, the film producer, countered this with “You can fool all the people all the time if the advertising is right and the budget is big enough.”

As evidenced by the huge success of the advertising industry in the USA and around the world that, to an overwhelming degree, is devoted to handling the truth with a generous quantity of carelessness, Mr. Levine seems to have a point.

It must be one of the hallmarks of a commercial civilization that a gullible populace is a vital and very useful necessity. But politicians and religious leaders have known this since the beginnings of civilizations.

I grew up in a time (which doesn’t seem to have changed all that much in this area) when school consisted of stuffing heads with cardinal facts to be displayed at test time and then forgotten in subsequent school terms so to make room for other disconnected facts to be placed in the empty spaces. Here and there in the curriculum there were a few useful mental instruments worth retaining but a huge amount of material was of no use whatsoever.

ovi magazine - Photo taken by Linda Lane - www.wonderlane.comThe vital fundamentals of living such as basic logical analysis, how to deal with important social situations, how the financial system functions (and malfunctions) and how to deal with it intelligently, what the tricks of advertising are and how to circumvent them and so forth were never dealt with.

When a large number of kids in the USA leave basic education with a dislike of mathematics and minimal abilities in reading, they are obvious red meat for scoundrels. If nothing else, the general popularity of astrology as compared with a comprehension of basic science is illustrative.

The US Supreme Court seems strangely unaware of Mr. Levine’s evaluation since they decreed that monetary limitations on election advertising is destructive of free speech. In effect, the people with the most money are legally guaranteed to firmly stake their claim on the minds of the voting population. Which indicates why the Congressional representatives of the people are so eager to compete for the favors of large corporations and other wealthy components of the nation. Fewer and fewer wealthy people own and control more and more of media organizations.

The only counterforce to the agglomeration is the growth of the internet which permits individuals to reach out across the world and reveal actual situations and conditions which the large media ignores. But the current Chinese government has a stranglehold on much of this free passage of information and other nations with suppressive agendas will probably soon take note.

The Bush government is notorious in suppressing information that should be in the public domain even to the extent of classifying information that has previously been released in order to suppress it. Its disdain for the truth is evident in most of the justifications for its military operations, which switch back and forth with every changing political breeze.

The consistent mismanagement and failure of almost every government operation under the Republicans, aside from the blatant corruption, testifies clearly to how unqualified the current executive administration is.

But what is most discouraging is that the American public which has been thoroughly deprived of its basic thinking tools is only now, after the latest election, beginning to be slightly aware of the maze of indirections into which it has been lead. The new Democratic Party’s majorities are really quite slim and not particularly indicative that the country has come to its senses or that it has enough senses to come to.


Photo taken by Linda Lane - www.wonderlane.com

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