How Ignorant Are We?

“About 1 in 4 Americans can name more than one of the five freedoms guaranteed by the First Amendment (freedom of speech, religion, press, assembly and petition for redress of grievances.) But more than half of Americans can name at least two members of the fictional cartoon family, The Simpsons, according to a survey. The study by the new McCormick Tribune Freedom Museum found that 22 percent of Americans could name all five Simpson family members, compared with just 1 in 1,000 people who could name all five First Amendment freedoms.

As we approach our Independence Day, it’s interesting to wonder what this means? Why do we know more about cartoons than freedom? There is a good summary, called How Ignorant Are We? The article does a good job of explaining what is going on. Why is it that Americans that are in favor of bombing Iran cannot seem to find it on a map? I wonder why the majority of Americans have never traveled beyond a 50 mile radius from where they were born? In a country where students are learning that the Earth (and the universe) is only a few thousand years old, is this really any surprise? Science and Technology has always defined a successful nation. American in the 50’s and 60’s was a great example of this. We were caught of guard when the Soviets launched Sputnik and reinvigorated our school system with strong programs in math and science.

For reasons I don’t really understand, there has been a backlash against knowledge in America. Especially among “conservative” Americans, academics are seen a liberal and out of touch. Of course, in a totalitarian state the first that are rounded up are university professors. Knowledge really is power. Unfortunately, ignorance is powerful, too. As America stands ready to topple from top dog position in the world, the power hungry lead at the vanguard followed by the blissfully ignorant bringing up the rear.

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