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Are Americans hostile to knowledge? - Page 4

post #46 of 77
Quote:
Originally Posted by Huntsman View Post
I absolutely agree. Is it just laziness? It seems like it from what I saw in college. Laziness and a true lack of any sense of wonder.
We make sure to beat that "wonder" crap out of them before college. Actually, before middle school if possible.
post #47 of 77
My own anectdotal observation - in some parts of the U.S. (e.g. Florida) it's impossible to have a sensible, let alone intelligent, conversation. That doesn't seem to be the case in Europe.
post #48 of 77
Don't generalize. Period.
post #49 of 77
I'd like to extend this debate somewhat in not focusing on the US that much.

I believe it is a problem of our generation that we have become uncritical.
We a) believe that consensus forms truth (wikipedia) and b) have such vast information resources available at out fingertips that we don't bother to think anymore (after all someone else surely has written something about that beforehand)- so why bother to critically assess the validity of information...
I'm sure people didn't use their 'critical thinking' for talking about political correctness and other such peripheral matters back in the day but were critical when it was actually called for.

Also, looking at what entertains my generation, I have to admit to be somewhat ashamed- people think that lighting a fart is funny ??? Comedians become famous for being stupid and are not ashamed to admit they lack basic education but instead call everyone else an egghead? I'm sure those people have always existed but now they're given public fora to expose the entire population to this nonsense and spread the idea that one only needs some basic utilitarian knowledge.

To draw this back to the original debate I'd like to offer some observations I have made when attending school 2003-04 on an exchange in PA.
Say whatever you want but how can it be possible that people graduate without having had instruction in the basic sciences? Everyone who has looked at the curriculum of 'earth sciences' knows that this is not a science course but mere national geographic channel knowledge. Also, I had to wonder how oblivious to what happens around them a lot of my fellow students were- mind you these are people who'll be graduating Harvard, Tufts, Dickinson et alii this year.

I can't really judge in how far this is based on the college admission process but I did see these exact people significantly involved in their community. So, they didn't focus their energies on the 'big world' but instead on their 'small world'.
This might account for some of the difference between the US and Europe.

I don't think that Europeans are more aware of what happens in the US because of a US-dominated media. Surely, you don't imply that one learns much about a country from watching Grey's Anatomy. European media simply is different and not as fast-paced as the American. Furthermore the, let's say, average German travels a lot more abroad than does the average American.
post #50 of 77
Quote:
Originally Posted by SoCal2NYC View Post
Not everyone is privy to higher learning like you Conne.

+1
post #51 of 77
I really wish philosophy was as much a part of education as math, science, and English. It's at the core of humanities studies but gets cast aside as useless or what have you, even though studies say otherwise. I think it would put things like multiculturalism and moral relativism under a much clearer lens. Even a lot of academics that I know are seem completely oblivious to epistemic problems that they are entrenched in. Sadly, I don't think I'll ever see the day where philosophy is taught in schools, if anything because it could lead to overly liberal thought and an aversion to 'faith.'

I know this post is poorly written; I have a lot of work on my plate today.
post #52 of 77
Quote:
Originally Posted by JoelF View Post
in some parts of the U.S. (e.g. Florida) it's impossible to have a sensible, let alone intelligent, conversation.

You don't even want to know what people wear to the opera here. Egads!

Jon.
post #53 of 77
Quote:
Originally Posted by j View Post
We make sure to beat that "wonder" crap out of them before college. Actually, before middle school if possible.

So true. In my world, wonder is holiness. We need to pay attention to that natural desire to know.
post #54 of 77
Quote:
Originally Posted by imageWIS View Post
You don't even want to know what people wear to the opera here. Egads!

Jon.
A Florida story, the Publix cashier ( ) that noticed I was buying two papers (Herald and Wall St. Journal) and suggested I save by just buying the cheaper one (the Herald). Why would anyone ever possibly need two newspapers?
post #55 of 77
Quote:
Originally Posted by JoelF View Post
A Florida story, the Publix cashier ( ) that noticed I was buying two papers (Herald and Wall St. Journal) and suggested I save by just buying the cheaper one (the Herald). Why would anyone ever possibly need two newspapers?

LMAO. I've actually never gotten lip from anyone working at Publix; normally they tend to be very friendly. You should have explained to them you were trying to do a multi-derivative equation regarding the future price of OJ and that's why you needed the WSJ...well that and you like the cartoons.

Although, why would anyone want the Herald?

Jon.
post #56 of 77
Not necessarily a new theme; Richard Hofstadter's Anti-Intellectualism in American Life won the Pulitzer in 1963.
post #57 of 77
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dewey View Post
Americans are not hostile to knowledge. They are practical, utilitarian about knowledge. If it is useful knowledge, they love it.

On the other hand, Americans are hostile to falsification. It's considered intolerant, aristocratic, oppressive, and un-American to tell other Americans that they cherish bad knowledge.

Exhibit A might be casino gambling. Exhibit B might be the irrational love of oversized and inefficient cars. Exhibit C might be the once-widespread idea that a guy who makes $60K should be allowed to borrow $500K to buy a crappy house in a bubble market. Exhibit D might be idiocy about intelligent design and evolution.

It's no surprise that people don't like to be told they are wrong in America. What is weird and distinctly American, I think, is the fact that a majority of people who are not in the wrong will side with the superstitious and stupid when they are corrected. If 10% of the population is morbidly addicted to gambling, and 10% of the population wants to end gambling to help those people, about three-quarters of the remaining 80% will get upset with the do-gooders for having the audacity to attack the bad idea that casino gambling is a harmless pastime.

This is why Americans are so superstitious and given to wacky religious beliefs. They love knowledge and they refuse to weed it or support others who want weed it.

Now, someone tell me I am wrong!

You're wrong, casino gaming lightens my tax load, 'nuf said.
post #58 of 77
Quote:
Originally Posted by Huntsman View Post
I absolutely agree. Is it just laziness? It seems like it from what I saw in college. Laziness and a true lack of any sense of wonder.

In my experience the worst of these types were Education majors.
post #59 of 77
In my experience and the exp. of most of my colleagues, the worst are the business majors. They only want to know what they think will make them money.
post #60 of 77
Quote:
Originally Posted by emptym View Post
In my experience and the exp. of most of my colleagues, the worst are the business majors.
They only want to know what they think will make them money.

That's silly; one has to know what to spend the money on once one makes it.

Jon.
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