Evidence continues to pour in that the most recent generation of Americans – the so-called millennials – have turned out to be the dumbest in our history. Specifically, their literacy, numeracy, and critical thinking skills hover above the barely adequate levels to conduct modern life according to diverse sources ranging from America’s employers to our National Center for Educational Statistics (more here) What makes it worse is the fully functioning, concerted effort to deny any of this that is delivered daily by the nation’s progressive lamestream media piled on by our local leftwing lackeys. The latter take it upon themselves to confuse the critiques of this state of national ignorance with an ignoble and gratuitous denigration of the ignorant, thereby firmly establishing their own membership in this cohort.
The situation has gotten so bad that a currently popular form of easy entertainment are videos of reporters – e.g. Jesse Watters and Mark Dice - encountering people on sidewalks to engage them on topics ranging from current events, through popular history and geography, to common sense. Watching the respondents either flail in their ignorance or unwittingly exhibit confidence where none is warranted illustrates the more formally published statistics (many reported here over the years).
A recent volume (pictured) by Mark Bauerlein – The Dumbest Generation – is packed with data from the now numerous studies and includes information about the organizations engaged in quantifying the extent of our endemic ‘dumbth’ (q.v.).
The problem caused by these people who don’t know the difference between a million and a billion, or the structure of our government, or the role of our Constitution, or …, is that way too many of them vote. And they vote on topics about which they have neither the slightest clue nor even basic knowledge. From our common past we can still hear Will Rogers’ paraphrasing Mark Twain - ‘It ain’t what you know that troubles me, it’s what you know that ain’t so.’ (more here)
This generation’s state of knowledge was most vividly illustrated during the ‘women’s marches’ after President Trump’s inauguration. When asked why they were marching, their answers ranged from the incoherent to the inane. When ‘diversity’, one of the millennials’ main memes, is brought up, their inability to define or discuss it surpasses high comedy. The source of their malady is the education that they have been denied since their parents first enrolled them in their neighborhood public school. From there through the halls of higher academia, their ability to think critically about diverse ideas was carefully expunged, and replaced by a memorized catalog of politically correct progressive notions which in the past were known as politicized slogans (the very embodiment of Orwell's 'newthink').
Classics professor Anthony Esolen of Providence College has been studying and writing about the whys and wherefores of today’s ‘diversitarians’. For this revelatory work he has been mercilessly pilloried by the Left. To get a sense of our educational decline I recommend his latest essay ‘Ut Plures Sint’ (May Be More) in which he focuses on the constricted (mis)understandings about the diversity of cultures – today a topic that so much exercises the progressive mind.
I offer this little update to further buttress RR’s contention that the damage to our national mind is both deep and done; there is no feasible way to fix it or fill the educational chasm. This generation will embrace progressive policies wherever they are encountered, and cement them in the voting booth. At this late stage of their development they have no choice; they are forced to consume information in the only way they have been taught – in small bite-sized, standalone pieces that describe a very simple and simplistic world that simply ain’t so. The only solution remaining from this side of the long-passed tipping point is to wish us both ‘Vaya con Dios’, and work for a peaceful Great Divide.
[1apr17 update] “Shaky numerical literacy can undermine our sense of issues like the federal budget that deal in millions and billions” says Jo Craven McGinty (here) as she adds to the evidence of our national dumbth. She points out that the overwhelming percentage of Americans have no idea about how to deal with the very large and the very small numbers that are supposed to inform us about everything from government budgets, borrowings, and taxes to temperature and pollution levels impacting (or not) our environment. Our innumerate citizenry continues making nationally impacting policies in the voting booths without a clue as to what is big, small, or significant. Therefore demagoguery and pandering politicians abetted by their local echo chambers rule the day.
On a more hopeful note, the eleventh annual TechTest was administered today by the Nevada Joint Union High School District in the NUHS Science Lecture Hall. Taking the four-hour merit scholarship exam were some of the county’s best and brightest students. The exam attracts qualified students who plan to pursue STEM careers after completing their post-high school studies. The exam is sponsored by the Sierra Economics and Science Foundation which also sponsors TechTestJr (completing its fourth year) to motivate fifth through eighth graders to take STEM qualifying classes in high school. Scholarship monies and prizes are provided through the generous support of SESF donors and local high-tech businesses who have made possible awards totaling over $150,000.
As a sad footnote to these programs benefitting our youth, our local (now called) Alt-Left started politicizing and denigrating this scholarship program years ago solely on the basis that the test is written, sponsored, and administered by people some of whom hold conservative political views. (e.g. I write the TTs and give the seminars.) The tests and related seminars are and have always been ideologically neutral, however that has not made any impact on people who have a history of looking at everything through correctly polished political lenses. And if your politics don’t pass their muster, then they relentlessly demand that you withdraw from the public forum. Only those approved should be visible in our community and allowed to contribute. The portents of this dreadful worldview has long been dealt with in these pages.