America dumbs down

The U.S. is being overrun by a wave of anti-science, anti-intellectual thinking. Has the most powerful nation on Earth lost its mind?


South Carolina’s state beverage is milk. Its insect is the praying mantis. There’s a designated dance—the shag—as well a sanctioned tartan, game bird, dog, flower, gem and snack food (boiled peanuts). But what Olivia McConnell noticed was missing from among her home’s 50 official symbols was a fossil. So last year, the eight-year-old science enthusiast wrote to the governor and her representatives to nominate the Columbian mammoth. Teeth from the woolly proboscidean, dug up by slaves on a local plantation in 1725, were among the first remains of an ancient species ever discovered in North America. Forty-three other states had already laid claim to various dinosaurs, trilobites, primitive whales and even petrified wood. It seemed like a no-brainer. “Fossils tell us about our past,” the Grade 2 student wrote.

And, as it turns out, the present, too. The bill that Olivia inspired has become the subject of considerable angst at the legislature in the state capital of Columbia. First, an objecting state senator attached three verses from Genesis to the act, outlining God’s creation of all living creatures. Then, after other lawmakers spiked the amendment as out of order for its introduction of the divinity, he took another crack, specifying that the Columbian mammoth “was created on the sixth day with the other beasts of the field.” That version passed in the senate in early April. But now the bill is back in committee as the lower house squabbles over the new language, and it’s seemingly destined for the same fate as its honouree—extinction.

What has doomed Olivia’s dream is a raging battle in South Carolina over the teaching of evolution in schools. Last week, the state’s education oversight committee approved a new set of science standards that, if adopted, would see students learn both the case for, and against, natural selection.

Related: Does America really care about Boko Haram? 

Charles Darwin’s signature discovery—first published 155 years ago and validated a million different ways since—long ago ceased to be a matter for serious debate in most of the world. But in the United States, reconciling science and religious belief remains oddly difficult. A national poll, conducted in March for the Associated Press, found that 42 per cent of Americans are “not too” or “not at all” confident that all life on Earth is the product of evolution. Similarly, 51 per cent of people expressed skepticism that the universe started with a “big bang” 13.8 billion years ago, and 36 per cent doubted the Earth has been around for 4.5 billion years.

The American public’s bias against established science doesn’t stop where the Bible leaves off, however. The same poll found that just 53 per cent of respondents were “extremely” or “very confident” that childhood vaccines are safe and effective. (Worldwide, the measles killed 120,000 people in 2012. In the United States, where a vaccine has been available since 1963, the last recorded measles death was in 2003.) When it comes to global warming, only 33 per cent expressed a high degree of confidence that it is “man made,” something the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has declared is all but certain. (The good news, such as it was in the AP poll, was that 69 per cent actually believe in DNA, and 82 per cent now agree that smoking causes cancer.)

If the rise in uninformed opinion was limited to impenetrable subjects that would be one thing, but the scourge seems to be spreading. Everywhere you look these days, America is in a rush to embrace the stupid. Hell-bent on a path that’s not just irrational, but often self-destructive. Common-sense solutions to pressing problems are eschewed in favour of bumper-sticker simplicities and blind faith.

In a country bedevilled by mass shootings—Aurora, Colo.; Fort Hood, Texas; Virginia Tech—efforts at gun control have given way to ever-laxer standards. Georgia recently passed a law allowing people to pack weapons in state and local buildings, airports, churches and bars. Florida is debating legislation that will waive all firearm restrictions during state emergencies like riots or hurricanes. (One opponent has moved to rename it “an Act Relating to the Zombie Apocalypse.”) And since the December 2012 massacre of 20 children and six staff at Sandy Hook Elementary School, in Newtown, Conn., 12 states have passed laws allowing guns to be carried in schools, and 20 more are considering such measures.

The cost of a simple appendectomy in the United States averages $33,000 and it’s not uncommon for such bills to top six figures. More than 15 per cent of the population has no health insurance whatsoever. Yet efforts to fill that gaping hole via the Affordable Health Care Act—a.k.a. Obamacare—remain distinctly unpopular. Nonsensical myths about the government’s “real” intentions have found so much traction that 30 per cent still believe that there will be official “death panels” to make decisions on end-of-life care.

Since 2001, the U.S. government has been engaged in an ever-widening program of spying on its own—and foreign—citizens, tapping phones, intercepting emails and texts, and monitoring social media to track the movements, activities and connections of millions. Still, many Americans seem less concerned with the massive violations of their privacy in the name of the War on Terror, than imposing Taliban-like standards on the lives of others. Last month, the school board in Meridian, Idaho voted to remove The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie from its Grade 10 supplemental reading list following parental complaints about its uncouth language and depictions of sex and drug use. When 17-year-old student Brady Kissel teamed up with staff from a local store to give away copies at a park as a protest, a concerned citizen called police. It was the evening of April 23, which was also World Book Night, an event dedicated to “spreading the love of reading.”

If ignorance is contagious, it’s high time to put the United States in quarantine.

Americans have long worried that their education system is leaving their children behind. With good reason: national exams consistently reveal how little the kids actually know. In the last set, administered in 2010 (more are scheduled for this spring), most fourth graders were unable to explain why Abraham Lincoln was an important figure, and only half were able to order North America, the U.S., California and Los Angeles by size. Results in civics were similarly dismal. While math and reading scores have improved over the years, economics remains the “best” subject, with 42 per cent of high school seniors deemed “proficient.”

Related post: Why the ice bucket challenge is bad for you 

They don’t appear to be getting much smarter as they age. A 2013 survey of 166,000 adults across 20 countries that tested math, reading and technological problem-solving found Americans to be below the international average in every category. (Japan, Finland, Canada, South Korea and Slovakia were among the 11 nations that scored significantly higher.)

The trends are not encouraging. In 1978, 42 per cent of Americans reported that they had read 11 or more books in the past year. In 2014, just 28 per cent can say the same, while 23 per cent proudly admit to not having read even one, up from eight per cent in 1978. Newspaper and magazine circulation continues to decline sharply, as does viewership for cable news. The three big network supper-hour shows drew a combined average audience of 22.6 million in 2013, down from 52 million in 1980. While 82 per cent of Americans now say they seek out news digitally, the quality of the information they’re getting is suspect. Among current affairs websites, Buzzfeed logs almost as many monthly hits as the Washington Post.

The advance of ignorance and irrationalism in the U.S. has hardly gone unnoticed. The late Columbia University historian Richard Hofstadter won the Pulitzer prize back in 1964 for his book Anti-Intellectualism in American Life, which cast the nation’s tendency to embrace stupidity as a periodic by-product of its founding urge to democratize everything. By 2008, journalist Susan Jacoby was warning that the denseness—“a virulent mixture of anti-rationalism and low expectations”—was more of a permanent state. In her book, The Age of American Unreason, she posited that it trickled down from the top, fuelled by faux-populist politicians striving to make themselves sound approachable rather than smart. Their creeping tendency to refer to everyone—voters, experts, government officials—as “folks” is “symptomatic of a debasement of public speech inseparable from a more general erosion of American cultural standards,” she wrote. “Casual, colloquial language also conveys an implicit denial of the seriousness of whatever issue is being debated: talking about folks going off to war is the equivalent of describing rape victims as girls.”

That inarticulate legacy didn’t end with George W. Bush and Sarah Palin. Barack Obama, the most cerebral and eloquent American leader in a generation, regularly plays the same card, droppin’ his Gs and dialling down his vocabulary to Hee Haw standards. His ability to convincingly play a hayseed was instrumental in his 2012 campaign against the patrician Mitt Romney; in one of their televised debates the President referenced “folks” 17 times.

Related reading: The hard truth about Tim Hortons 

An aversion to complexity—at least when communicating with the public—can also be seen in the types of answers politicians now provide the media. The average length of a sound bite by a presidential candidate in 1968 was 42.3 seconds. Two decades later, it was 9.8 seconds. Today, it’s just a touch over seven seconds and well on its way to being supplanted by 140-character Twitter bursts.

Little wonder then that distrust—of leaders, institutions, experts, and those who report on them—is rampant. A YouGov poll conducted last December found that three-quarters of Americans agreed that science is a force for good in the world. Yet when asked if they truly believe what scientists tell them, only 36 per cent of respondents said yes. Just 12 per cent expressed strong confidence in the press to accurately report scientific findings. (Although according to a 2012 paper by Gordon Gauchat, a University of North Carolina sociologist, the erosion of trust in science over the past 40 years has been almost exclusively confined to two groups: conservatives and regular churchgoers. Counterintuitively, it is the most highly educated among them—with post-secondary education—who harbour the strongest doubts.)

The term “elitist” has become one of the most used, and feared, insults in American life. Even in the country’s halls of higher learning, there is now an ingrained bias that favours the accessible over the exacting.

“There’s a pervasive suspicion of rights, privileges, knowledge and specialization,” says Catherine Liu, the author of American Idyll: Academic Antielitism as Cultural Critique and a film and media studies professor at University of California at Irvine. Both ends of the political spectrum have come to reject the conspicuously clever, she says, if for very different reasons; the left because of worries about inclusiveness, the right because they equate objections with obstruction. As a result, the very mission of universities has changed, argues Liu. “We don’t educate people anymore. We train them to get jobs.” (Boomers, she says, deserve most of the blame. “They were so triumphalist in promoting pop culture and demoting the canon.”)

The digital revolution, which has brought boundless access to information and entertainment choices, has somehow only enhanced the lowest common denominators—LOL cat videos and the Kardashians. Instead of educating themselves via the Internet, most people simply use it to validate what they already suspect, wish or believe to be true. It creates an online environment where Jenny McCarthy, a former Playboy model with a high school education, can become a worldwide leader of the anti-vaccination movement, naysaying the advice of medical professionals.

Most perplexing, however, is where the stupid is flowing from. As conservative pundit David Frum recently noted, where it was once the least informed who were most vulnerable to inaccuracies, it now seems to be the exact opposite. “More sophisticated news consumers turn out to use this sophistication to do a better job of filtering out what they don’t want to hear,” he blogged.

But are things actually getting worse? There’s a long and not-so-proud history of American electors lashing out irrationally, or voting against their own interests. Political scientists have been tracking, since the early 1950s, just how poorly those who cast ballots seem to comprehend the policies of the parties and people they are endorsing. A wealth of research now suggests that at the most optimistic, only 70 per cent actually select the party that accurately represents their views—and there are only two choices.

Larry Bartels, the co-director of the Center for the Study of Democratic Institutions at Vanderbilt University, says he doubts that the spreading ignorance is a uniquely American phenomenon. Facing complex choices, uncertain about the consequences of the alternatives, and tasked with balancing the demands of jobs, family and the things that truly interest them with boring policy debates, people either cast their ballots reflexively, or not at all. The larger question might be whether engagement really matters. “If your vision of democracy is one in which elections provide solemn opportunities for voters to set the course of public policy and hold leaders accountable, yes,” Bartels wrote in an email to Maclean’s. “If you take the less ambitious view that elections provide a convenient, non-violent way for a society to agree on who is in charge at any given time, perhaps not.”

A study by two Princeton University researchers, Martin Gilens and Benjamin Page, released last month, tracked 1,800 U.S. policy changes between 1981 and 2002, and compared the outcome with the expressed preferences of median-income Americans, the affluent, business interests and powerful lobbies. They concluded that average citizens “have little or no independent influence” on policy in the U.S., while the rich and their hired mouthpieces routinely get their way. “The majority does not rule,” they wrote.

Smart money versus dumb voters is hardly a fair fight. But it does offer compelling evidence that the survival of the fittest remains an unshakable truth even in American life. A sad sort of proof of evolution.


America dumbs down

  1. It’s the Fall of Rome all over again…..and lucky us, we have a ringside seat.

    • …great, and then after Rome fell, a thousand years of horrible, and starvation-laced “Dark Ages”, for all who were encompassed within their ex-Empire.
      The “East” will begin “flourishing”, meanwhile the “West” will begin it’s “decline”.

      • Agreed. I’d like to see a change this time though…NO Dark Ages.

        Let’s just skip straight through to the Renaissance….a global one.

        • You should look up current thinking on the “Dark Ages” and “Renaissance”. Neither periods were like you portray them.

          • I deal with both subjects on a regular basis…don’t pretend.

      • – The “East” will begin “flourishing”, meanwhile the “West” will begin it’s “decline”.

        These idiots have already assured it, rejection of science, education, reason while their leaders fight over who can sell out the populace fastest.

        • To say nothing of not knowing the difference between “it’s” and “its.”

        • Who are those idiots?

      • @Emilyone: Let’s say Rome fell in 476 (whatever the date one chooses is not true of course because it’s far more complicated than this… ) “One thousand years of starvation” (who on Earth survive 1000 years of starvation…!!!) put us in 1476….
        So you mean there is NOTHING happening in Europe between 450 and 1476 ????????????????
        What on Earth did people learn in school? I see ignorance is not just a problem in the USA…

        • But Emily TALKS about the Dark Ages all the time, so she must know what she’s talking about! /sarcasm

          Seriously though, no serious historian has talked about the so-called Dark Ages like Emily does for a few decades. But it does make a good bit of mythology for the scientism crowd. I hope that other people (she’s a lost cause) will take the time to read up on the history of the period and the label we’ve applied to it. It’s pretty interesting.

          • You are quite right, the scholarship moved on decades ago. However, Emily’s sole source is Wikipedia.

          • I heard a medieval scholar speak at a conference last year; they are pretty sad about the “dark ages” label.

    • i think alot of this is unfair and skewed, look at how long it took for the government to admit to lead poisoning…

    • Rome lasted a thousand years. The anti-intellectual right seems dead set on making sure the United States doesn’t reach a quarter of that.

      • why focus on the right? aren’t many on the left also behind movements against GM technology, against vaccinations, etc?

    • Mr. Gatehouse suggests that the U. S. is increasingly anti-scientific without showing ANY evidence that there is actually a trend of that sort. Rather, he lists a few isolated examples of anti-science, anti-intellectual thinking which one can always find. In the U. S. this is especially easy, as the elitist media types are always focused on the unusual to help sell their product. Much of what Mr. Gatehouse provides as evidence of this dumbing down, is rather much simply a reflection of the human condition, where the uneducated are skeptical of things that that they do not comprehend, and thus do not hold a belief in these “not understood things.” It is just a reflection of the “Show me.” attitude many will adhere to until they gain more knowledge. That is not a trend, that simply describes how people “operate” until they reach a certain level of education, a level where they have learned that the scientific method builds layer upon layer of knowledge, each level validating the previous, so that the outsider to a particular scientific discipline can accept that the experts in that discipline are relatively valid, to valid, in their beliefs. Many of the people lacking scientific training will always be skeptical of things that, to them, sound far fetched, and there will always be many of these people in society that do not see the need to understand science in their personal lives or do not have the mental capacity to understand science. That is not a trend, that is just part of the human condition.

      • I don’t question scientific methodology, but I do question science for profit. One vaccine was mentioned in this article, but many others are highly questionable and are questioned by qualified doctors and scientists.

        Being dumb, it seems to me, is devoutly following the dictates of authority figures of any stripe – religious, scientific, journalistic, political or otherwise. But maybe I’m just dumb.

        • Regarding vaccines being questioned by qualified doctors and scientists, citation needed.

        • No, Rob, you are just one of the last one’s left with a will. Sad to see all of these other comments, you are all like high school girls. You jump on whatever side is popular. All of you who call yourself scientists and agree with this article are pathetic. I feel truly sorry for you, as much as those who are lost in religious fervor. Sad, sad, sad state of affairs. No one can just *think* for themselves anymore.

          Wonderful article Gatehouse, I guess this is what passes for journalism nowadays. Sit on your comfy Ikea chair and selectively find local media stories that fit your argument. So sad to see what we’ve become in every way…

      • 67% of Americans don’t know the three branches of government.
        Science doesn’t scare me.I LOVE it!
        You need to do some rethinking….

      • The actual problem is the stupid people are multiplying quicker. More intelligent people only have children if they can afford them including their education. In turn their children make like bunnies as well. The children that break the cycle and work for scholarships to educate themselves become just like the other educated people. They only have as many children as they can afford.

      • I wonder if the root reason is not the swing toward religious fundamentalism, particularly in the South. That’s where all the noise is coming from, I believe. They don’t pay any attention to science, evolution is a no-no. From the appearance of individuals on TV it appears a large percentage are interested in stuffing themselves with no exercise (kids particularly). I think the generality of Gatehouse’s comments are valid. But I hardly think it foretells Dark Ages. One of the American geniuses is to swing one way and then the other but always seems to bounce back.

    • The US wipes it’s ass with Canada after it’s done shitting on the Mexico and Central America, which coincidentally and geographically resides right under the rectum of the USofA, which is Texas

  2. When religion is used to dumb down a population and keep them stupid, the main benefactors are the monied ruling classes. Big surprise.
    While we don’t have that specific problem in Canada, we have a general voter malaise that eventually tunes out politics and allows the leaders to push through legislation without the burden of public participation and debate. This is pretty much as bad as what is going on down south, so don’t be looking down your nose at the US quite yet – we may not buy the religious bullshit, but we dine on our own apathy with similar results.

    • Our rightwing is much the same as theirs, religious wackiness and all…..but on the whole our apathy doesn’t equal their craziness. We don’t have ‘exceptionalism’ as a national belief, nor do we usually practice imperialism. We tend to let crazes wear themselves out, and then correct the situation.

      • Have you seen what just happened in Australia? You never know when the crazies are going to come bursting out of the closet.

        • Have you seen what just happened in Australia?

          It’s called common sense.

          The crazies are the leftwingnut watermelons who belong to the cult of global warming/climate change /climate disruption.

          Glo-BullWarming is the biggest fraud ever perpetrated in human history..

          • Fitting name.

          • No shortage of Leftist Mental Disorder on this thread.

          • Back on your meds Billy Bob.

          • You do understand that this article is about you, don’t you? Thanks for illustrating that dumbing down so concisely.

          • I don’t drink or do drugs AC.

            A swing and a miss you leftard.

          • Well BD, it would seem you don’t understand what’s been going on, but I bet you were one of those kids upon leaving high school was ill equipped to deal with reality.

          • “…but I bet you were one of those kids upon leaving high school was ill equipped to deal with reality.”

            The irony is strong with this one.

          • Geoff thinks he’s clever……….heh.

      • The cooperation of other countries is exactly what allows U.S. imperialism to exist. Don’t fool yourself that you’re off the hook.

      • You’re f#cking moron. Canada has played the nice guy card for a long time. If you knew anything about your country’s history, you would know that the US uses this nice guy attitude all the time to accomplish their needs, and the wimpy Canadians play along hook, line and sinker, because their Canadian Dollar wins out usually over the crumbling Petro dollar. Don’t try to make your country look any less guilty. You are not. Go back to sleep.

    • What about Socialism and political correctness? They sure do a good job dumbing down people in Canada and W. Europe.

      • Hahahahahahaha this is my favourite comment! “Canadian children who have universal healthcare and are taught to be respectful to other human beings are just as bad off as American children who don’t know that North America is bigger than Los Angeles!”

        Maybe choose to be one of those people who actually reads books and figure out what “socialism” actually is (hint: it doesn’t exist in either Canada or Western Europe). Then ask yourself why you think being “politically correct” is a bad thing.

        There are a million reasons to criticise Canada and the EU, neither of those are one of them.

        • Excellent comment 1in19. the socialist bogeyman is another word that incites reflexive hysteria by people who have no idea what it is!

        • I think you were successfully trolled.

        • Your comment is nebulous .. what are trying to say?

    • There’s a difference between Evolution Denialism and Climate Change Denialism. Evolution Denialism has been around for a while, but Climate Change Denialism is being aggressively sold to the public by the energy industry, which doesn’t want climate change regulations interfering with its business. They’re happy to promote evolution denialism, because it makes it easier to sell climate change denialism, and because it encourages social conservatives to show up at the polls to vote Republican, but the real message is climate change denialism.

      • Nonsense! The politically correct are selling the phoney “global warming” story with the same furvour and lack of credibility as the stereotypical bible-thumping evangelist

    • It’s interesting you blame religion. Your point seems to indicate there’s an inverse correlation to religion and intelligence, when the general trend shows no such thing. Our nation is seeing a steady decline in religious activity over the years and yet we are talking about the intelligence of America declining as well, despite the scientific breakthroughs we’ve seen over the recent decades. Perhaps our view of education is an issue. Perhaps our politicians are favoring votes more than solutions. And perhaps religious institutions teach, promote, and encourage the kind of virtues and values relevant to a “smarter” society.

      • Just brilliant. I agree 100%. Blame Religion for everything, blame “wacky” believers. All while ignoring the fact that religion is on the decline, yet this dumbing down continues steadily. Surely if it was religion to blame, things would be different.

        • The dumbing down starts in elementary school, no kids left behind actually fails those children who need extra help to learn, instead they are whisked right though to the end of high school without gaining the tools that they need to be successful adults.

          Thanks to the touchy feely hug a thug leftist agenda.

          • No child left behind was a policy introduced by Bush. “Touchy feely hug a thug leftist agenda?” To describe Bush? HAHA! In case you forgot, Bush was as right-wing as they come.
            Revisionist history at its best, BB. You just proved the very point you are arguing against here.

          • Hey Lisa, STFU you ignorant bitch,

            No Child Left Behind – Overview

            The No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB) is the most recent iteration of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA), the major federal law authorizing federal spending on programs to support K-12 schooling. ESEA is the largest source of federal spending on elementary and secondary education.

            ESEA was enacted in 1965 as part of the Johnson Administration’s War on Poverty campaign. The law’s original goal, which remains today, was to improve educational equity for students from lower income families by providing federal funds to school districts serving poor students. School districts serving lower income students often receive less state and local funding than those serving more affluent children.

            Since its initial passage in 1965, ESEA has been reauthorized seven times, most recently in January 2002 as the No Child left Behind Act. Each reauthorization has brought changes to the program, but its central goal of improving the educational opportunities for children from lower income families remains. The 1994 reauthorization, the Improving America’s Schools Act, put in place key standards and accountability elements for states and local school districts that receive funding under the law. These accountability provisions were further developed in the most recent reauthorization, the No Child Left Behind Act.
            NCLB and Accountability

            Although NCLB covers numerous federal education programs, the law’s requirements for testing, accountability, and school improvement receive the most attention. NCLB requires states to test students in reading and mathematics annually in grades 3-8 and once in grades 10-12. States must test students in science once in grades 3-5, 6-8, and 10-12. Individual schools, school districts and states must publicly report test results in the aggregate and for specific student subgroups, including low-income students, students with disabilities, English language learners, and major racial and ethnic groups.

            NCLB required states, school districts, and schools to ensure all students are proficient in grade-level math and reading by 2014. States define grade-level performance. Schools must make “adequate yearly progress” toward this goal, whereby proficiency rates increase in the years leading up to 2014. The rate of increase required is chosen by each state. In order for a school to make adequate yearly progress (AYP), it must meet its targets for student reading and math proficiency each year. A state’s total student proficiency rate and the rate achieved by student subgroups are all considered in the AYP determination.
            ESEA Flexibility and Waivers

            However, Wisconsin – along with 42 other states, Washington, D.C., a group of California school districts, Puerto Rico, and the Bureau of Indian Education – applied for a waiver from these targets and other NCLB requirements from the Department of Education. In September 2011, President Obama and Secretary of Education Arne Duncan announced that the administration would allow states to request flexibility in meeting some of the requirements under NCLB in the absence of the law’s reauthorization.

            Source: Wisconsin Department of Education; New America

            Requirements that the Department of Education offered to waive include states meeting AYP targets whereby students must reach 100 percent student proficiency by 2014 in reading and math, and mandated interventions, whereby districts must allow students to attend different schools and offer Supplemental Educational Services for Title I schools and school districts failing to meet the AYP targets. The waivers also allowed states to opt out of mandatory interventions for districts failing to meet requirements to staff only ‘Highly Qualified Teachers’ in their schools. (For more, read New America’s recent report, “It’s All Relative: How NCLB Waivers Did–and Did Not–Transform School Accountability.”)

            In order to receive flexibility through a waiver, states needed to demonstrate that they had adopted or would implement a series of reforms to their academic standards, student assessments, and accountability systems for schools and educators. Specifically, the Department required states to implement 1) college- and career-ready standards and assessments that measure student achievement and growth; 2) a differentiated accountability system that both recognizes high-achieving, high progress schools (reward schools) and supports chronically low-achieving schools (priority and focus schools); and 3) teacher and principal evaluation and support systems to improve instruction. A team of peer reviewers, along with Department staff, studied the proposals, commented on each request, and offered suggestions to states to help them win approval.

            Since February 2012, 43 states and Washington, D.C. have been granted waivers, most of which will be in effect until the end of the 2013-14 school year, when states will have the opportunity to extend their waivers for another two years. For states without waivers, NCLB remains in full effect.

            States have struggled with implementing the policies outlined in their waiver agreements with the Department of Education. Just like the provisions in NCLB that the waivers allow states to escape, reforms states set in motion using waivers have been controversial. Some constituencies have objected to the new policies. These include the new Common Core State Standards and assessments many states have adopted; the annual student achievement targets that states have set (which are often different for historically disadvantaged groups of students); states’ new systems for measuring school quality and/or identifying schools for improvement; and states’ plans to implement teacher and principal evaluations based in part on student test scores. Despite these difficulties, it appears likely that waivers will continue to serve as de facto federal policy until NCLB is reauthorized.

      • Far too logical, rational and reasonable an argument, Mike. Better watch out. You’ll be on Canada’s “person of interest” list soon as those who govern us are so much smarter than those to the south of us or so we are to believe.

    • “While we don’t have that specific problem in Canada.”
      Better reconsider that statement. The fundamental Christian Right in Canada are alive and well, starting with Stephen Harper. Their gradual encroachment over the years has been very subtle. Moderate Christians and secular folk need to get focused and proactive before it’s too late.

      • Crawl back into your hole you idiot.

        • Billy Bob, you are a piece of work. You do love to insult people. Postings like “Crawl back into your hole you idiot.” and “Hey Lisa, STFU you ignorant bitch” (to name a few) just show what a low-class knuckle-dragger you must be.

          Also, was it really necessary to copy and paste the entire “no child left behind” overview? Perhaps you could have just provided a link? Or maybe you wanted people to believe that you actually typed that whole posting, showing us your brilliant mind. Here, let me google that for you:

          I really wish that trolls like you didn’t exist. At least I can take some comfort in knowing that you are one of the most unhappy people in the world.

          OK troll, I’m waiting for you. Bring on the insults. That’s all you’re good for.

      • ‘…starting with Stephen Harper” LOL crawl back under your rock Liberal troll. You wouldn’t know the truth if it kicked you in the face.

    • Religion is used to control the weaker-minded ( the weaker-minded being the controllers). Historically it has been used for men to control women.

  3. “Barack Obama, the most cerebral and eloquent American leader in a generation”

    You just lost your credibility with that assertion. Obama does a great job reading a speech written by someone else (as long as the techs have set up the teleprompter correctly), but cerebral….sorry. Arrogance, mixed with authoritarian tendencies does not make one cerebral.

    You probably also believe Obama earned the Nobel Prize he was awarded.

    • I miss the cerebral profundity of Dubya

      • So do I. But Dick Cheney now that’s a wrap

      • agreed, he knew you could fool ummm, some people, ummm, ermmm, or something like that

    • Being a Harvard law professor kinda does, though.

      • Who was the Harvard law professor? It certainly wasn’t Obama. He attended Harvard, but was never a professor there – or at any other university for that matter. He lectured at the University of Chicago, but was not a professor.

        • Sorry STELLAP looks like you’re part of the “dumbed down” group. Although he was Harvard educated, he actually was a Law Professor at University of Chicago.

          University of Chicago Law School statement:

          The Law School has received many media requests about Barack Obama, especially about his status as “Senior Lecturer.” From 1992 until his election to the U.S. Senate in 2004, Barack Obama served as a professor in the Law School. He was a Lecturer from 1992 to 1996. He was a Senior Lecturer from 1996 to 2004, during which time he taught three courses per year. Senior Lecturers are considered to be members of the Law School faculty and are regarded as professors, although not full-time or tenure-track. The title of Senior Lecturer is distinct from the title of Lecturer, which signifies adjunct status. Like Obama, each of the Law School’s Senior Lecturers have high-demand careers in politics or public service, which prevent full-time teaching. Several times during his 12 years as a professor in the Law School, Obama was invited to join the faculty in a full-time tenure-track position, but he declined.

          • Just a word of clarification. In the world of higher education, a lecturer is not the same as a “full professor”. In academic terms, it is several rungs lower on the ladder.

            Generally speaking, you often see, in order: Lecturer/Instructor, Assistant Professor, Associate Professor, and Professor.

            Designations may be slightly different at a law school, but rest assured it takes a tremendous amount more work to be a professor in higher education (research, service, etc.) than a lecturer.

          • David V Actually it tends to be Lecturer/Instructor, Assistant Professor, Associate Professor, and “Tenured Professor”. They are all ranks of being a professor, and the prefixed name is more of a seniority ranking, not dismissing that they are a professor.

            David (without the V) only the higher level of professorships tend to publish, the lower levels tend to be straight up teachers.

          • Jordan, that contribution was most helpful, and I had not encountered it before.
            Good work — especially in exemplifying the values of argument with evidential support (as opposed to by unsupported assertion, the norm in almost all open comment threads), and of citation of original, primary sources as dispositive.
            Of course, with the serious wingerz, inconvenient facts serve only to anger and incite them (they’re usually just ignored, occasionally dismissed as propaganda from the “liberal media”) — but the rest of us appreciate the input.

        • And at Harvard, was the law review editor and never wrote a thing. That simply doesn’t happen. And then he taught at Univ. of Chicago Law School for 10 years, and again, never published a thing. That doesn’t happen. Unless . . .

          Look, this guy’s an affirmative action President. He’s in over his head. The VA’s screwed up, his foreign policy is in shambles, NSA (over which he has executive command) became worse than ever under him, he has put the worst parts of Obamacare on hold even though he has no legal authority to do so (that’s Congress’s job); and he’s in favor of importing even more of Mexico’s and Honduras’s poorest and most illiterate — while Americans go for record periods without jobs. This country’s gone insane, alright. Just walk down Cary Street in Richmond’s “fan district” and you’ll see them by the score — young people who go out of their way to look like they just got out of an insane asylum.

          • The NSA, foreign policy and the VA were screwed up before Obama got there, first off. Secondly, he can’t actually do that without the Congressional okay, like you said, and since it happened and he’s not being impeached for it, even though the Congress is just full of people looking for a reason, seems safe to say they okayed it. And Obama has been deporting people at a much greater rate than Bush did. The country has gone insane, but not for the reasons you think.

          • Ok…before you beat each other to death of technicalities……..simply being a law professor does no imbue one with intellect.

            I’ve met quite a few professors…….and many of them were just kooks with tenure.

          • “Affirmative action president” how offensive. You know affirmative action is an implemented policy while a president has to get voted in. He was not put in place, he was voted by the masses, who say him as a potential leader to change the direction of the country. Criticize his job right now if you will but don’t try to belittle the historic achievement by labelling him an affirmative action president.

      • It’s true, Harvard doesn’t just hire people for political reasons. That’s why Dalton McGuinty is down there teaching the next generation of leaders how to bankrupt their home jurisdictions.

        • He wasn’t hired by Harvard, he was educated there…go back and try again.

    • It’s ok to disagree with someone’s actions, policies, statements, but the tendency is from both the right and left to insist that those who oppose their views are doing so because they are not smart enough to understand them. Whatever you may say about Barack Obama (and I am not a supporter, nor did I vote for him), he graduated with honors from Harvard Law School, was President of the Harvard Law Review, and taught constitutional law at the University of Chicago. These are not the accomplishments of an unintelligent person, no matter what your opinion of his policies or statements is. Likewise, Dick Cheney attended Yale. University of Wyoming, and was pursuind his pHd at University of Wisconsin Madison. This is not about intelligence, and the more we try to personalize these attacks against people with whom we disagree, the less attention it draws to the real concern – the decisions they make, and the actions they take.

      • Well said.

        • Agreed!

      • “…the tendency is from both the right and left to insist that those who oppose their views are doing so because they are not smart enough to understand them.”

        When I’m sitting there explaining natural selection to you, and you oppose me because the Bible tells you to, then what am I to assume other than you’re incapable of original, rational thought? If we’re having a discussion about the Higgs Boson and the Standard Model that predicts it, and you push back against me NOT BECAUSE of flawed science, but because you’re offended that people refer to it as the “God particle,” am I to assume we’re operating on the same intellectual level?

        Let’s be serious for a moment. Only one side has a serious problem with anti-intellectualism.

        • And that would be the muslims …. no? Einstein was a Christian and so were at least half of the great inventors, intellectuals, innovators, creators, discoverers … the rest were Jewish.

    • Well the proof positive that the US is dumbing down, is when they put the guy that should have gone down as the worst one term president ever, in for another term. The whole US society has turned into a swindle, just look at the costs of medical care. As a Canadian who used to do business in the US, it seems that no matter what you do, somebody is trying to stick a knife in your back. So now my trips to the US is strictly as a tourist. And Canadians should pay attention, because the US is always a preview of what we can expect here in a few years.

      • Completely agree with you Keith. John Kerry should have defeated George Bush in 2004, but sadly that didn’t happen and Bush incredibly got his second term…

    • I wonder what your level of reading comprehension is?
      I know Americans who have six-figure salaries that can hardly read above a high school level.
      So yeah, there is that.

      • A six-figure salary is 100,000….not very much these days. Cops make that….firefighters…

        Also the SOTU speech is usually given at a grade 8 to 10 level.

        Are you proud of this?

        Does being barely literate advance your country?

        • I think there are a lot of Americans asking what Obama has done to advance their country. In every aspect…..america is on the decline.

        • I sincerely hope your comment about cops and firefighters making six-figures was meant as sarcasm. The median income for both is half that, roughly around $50k/yr, and less than 10% in either profession break the $70k/yr mark. $100k/yr is still nothing to sneeze at as it’s double the median salary of most middle-class Americans. If you honestly think police or firefighters earn that much, I can’t imagine how skewed your other perspectives on what people earn and the economy in general would be. Educate yourself before expounding on a subject.

          • Lol. $100,000 is nothing these days. People are oblivious to how inflation has gone through the roof.

    • My favorite thing about this comment is that you seem to think that Obama is the first President to have a speechwriter and the first one to use a teleprompter. I assure you, he is not. And even if he was, your inability to talk policy and insistence of focusing on trifling crap is really proof of what this article is saying.

  4. “Just 12 per cent expressed strong confidence in the press to accurately report scientific findings.”

    This is actually one of the only statistics in this article that I find actually encouraging. The press usually does a pretty terrible job of scientific reporting. The average reporter or news anchor is typically not very scientifically literate, and dedicated science reporters with actual scientific credentials are fairly rare in mainstream media. Much better to check the original articles or go to a science-specific news service if you want a fair representation of what the research is actually saying.

    • Really? I thought we were just supposed to sit back and bow to our overlords. Goodness knows the elite and the scientific community never make mistakes and always have the public’s best interests at heart at all times. Oh, and everyone who disagrees with me politically or philosophically is a kook and a crazy by definition. The media told me so…

      • Thanks for illustrating the point of the article so succinctly.

  5. Mr Gatehouse,
    When citing the levels of ignorance in America you lead with evolution as an argument in support of your thesis. With scientists leading the millions around the world who believe in creation and have disproved evolution more convincingly than evolutionists have proven their theory, you’d be wise to think twice before calling others ignorant.

    • Please, by all means Sarahtun,…..move to the US.

      It will raise the IQ of both countries.

    • How about a little evidence to back that assertion? Clearly, the world has missed out on some pretty spectacular scientific discoveries.

    • Disproved evolution — hilarious. The best I have ever seen a creationist come up with is shrieking “where the missing link?!?!?” between the various parts of the fossil record.

      • How about the second law of thermo-dynamics? All things move from order to chaos. Disproves the “big Bang”. How about Darwin himself? He disproved his own theory. He said, if the fossil record does not prove his theory, than it is incorrect. (notice it is the ONLY THEORY in existence that hasn’t been proven to be a LAW or changed, or thrown out. It goes against the Scientific Method.) Today all of Darwin’s missing links have been proven to be their own species. There is now a need for a lot more “missing links” for his theory to be true. The birds he uses so much in his theory didn’t evolve before his eyes, they were adapting. Their beaks went back to the original shape after the water changed again. I do believe we adapt and science proves that. But if we evolved from Apes, why are they still here? Survival of the fittest. I do believe in a big bang, but science does not prove it in the least. God said, “let there be light”, and bang, there was light. I know you will think that I am closed minded, but you need to open your eyes and see what science proves. Tears…God exists. Platelets…intelligent design. The universe…intelligent design. If you think we are here by chance, you’ve got more faith than me.

        • Sorry CLP, you’re wrong in literally every way. Let’s begin.

          The second law of thermodynamics only applies to isolated systems — that is, systems that have nothing going in or out of them. Earth is not an isolated system. We have a Sun. We have a moon. These exert solar energy, gravity, and many other influences which would not define the Earth as “closed.”

          Evolution not being a “Law” is irrelevant. Gravity is a “theory”. Germs causing disease is a “theory”. Yep, it’s true. Do you think the Theory of Relativity is just a guess? In science, “theories” are larger, more multifaceted concepts than “laws”. “Laws” are usually simpler mathematical formulas.

          Everything it “its own species,” so to say, because all forms of life are unique– the term “species” is not specific enough to account for all forms of life. There are smaller taxonomic ranks than “species” such as subspecies.

          Apes are still around because the apes we see today are not the same species of ape that we, and modern apes today, diverged from. This is exactly what evolution claims and it is exactly what we see. If there were no apes around at all today, that would be a huge piece of evidence against evolution. Too bad there are.

          The Bible never says “bang.”

          The existence of tear ducts and basic geology does not prove that an invisible, Hebrew-speaking, multidimensional, supernatural deity exists. That’s a pretty big leap, don’t you think?

          I’m an art student.

          • Alex W

            Gravity is commonly referred to as Newton’s Universal Law of Gravitation. Laws describe the function of natural events, they don’t describe them. Evolution tries to do both.

            Logically speaking, evolution cannot begin without creation referred to as ex nihlio (from nothing) AND at a minimum to put natural law into motion. Here is a list of common natural laws…which you are correct are commonly equations:
            Boyle’s Law
            Charles Law
            Newtons Laws of motion
            and…yes Thermodynamic is considered a series of equations there for law.

            It is at this point (the very beginning) that a creator is required, regardless of relicious conviction and atheism is religious perspective or creationist, a creator is required.

            What I find hypocritical in the is article and others is the push by some to compel others to accept science without allowing the individual to be scientific themselves. For example, most if not all of us learned to ride a bike not through compelling arguments although they help. At some point we let the individual learn…aka use the scientific method of observation, hypothesis, trial, data analysis, conclude, hypothesize, etc. This article talks circles around the assumption that because a number of scientists have concluded that evolution is sound as a theory, that it is above question. Scientists have been wrong before and that is precisely how Copernicus made his name in the world in light of the accepted theory the universe. We look back at this example as one of obvious religious intrusion. True, and atheism is a religion and would all be better off letting the debate and science continue. What know is that we the more we know the more complex things become (hence the addition of billions of years to the age the universe in my lifetime, kind of ironic and telling). The more complex the universe, the more convoluded the explanations. Alex, recall the laws of nature…they can be written on a small piece of paper and these equations control all of nature. Reading Steven J Gould’s Theory of Evolution is approximately 1,300 pages long….similar in length to the Bible with commentaries, which is what Stephen expounds upon in his writing.

            It is imperative that multiple sides of a story be presented. The truth has a way of rising to the surface, albeit over time with substantive evidence. It is precisely ‘time’ that evolutionist bank upon in order to explain complex life. The scientific method should not be avoided for anyone to understand the world around us. It is this method that allows all of us to understand the world at whatever level we find ourselves in training and/or experience. As the article implies, quite heavily, the rest of society in the US should get along with the program based upon our backward statistics. However, the US is very unique in scientific discovery…in light of this apparent paradox. Maybe these stats actually are beneficial to our country. China, who statistically blows the doors off of the international tests, also lags grossly behind in creativity (patents) then other industrialized countries and they have the highest performing high schoolers! Whats the difference? Freedom to create and inquire!

            However, the US leads the work in patents applications, patent approvals, scientific discovery and application. How backward are we when we encourage rather than discourage inquiry? It is ironic than in the last 20 years when scientists have been pounding the idea science has resolved questions to the point of not needing discussion (“Charles Darwin’s signature discovery—first published 155 years ago and validated a million different ways since—long ago ceased to be a matter for serious debate in most of the world. But in the United States, reconciling science and religious belief remains oddly difficult.”) and then criticizing the very fact that we have developed a generation of scientific stooges (no matter the scientific topic). Lets get back to encouraging discourse, thought, inquiry and let the truth rise to the surface through rigorous debate. I approve of the debate in public schools. 2 + 2 will still equal four even if someone disagrees. The world will continue it is, even if there is disagreement.

          • Alex W

            “Laws describe the function of natural events, they don’t describe them” WTF, I think you may need to rethink this phrase, it is so circular I am not sure what is going on.

            Secondly, logically speaking, a creator is not logic, as it starts the question of who created the creator, and who created the creator of the creator and so forth. If everything has to have been created by a being then obviously your creator would have had to have been created as well. This makes the idea of a required creator illogical, circular, and an argument best not even brought up.

            No one is saying dont question science, in fact that is what the science community wants, to question it with ration and reason. What it does not want is to be dismissed “because God”, which is the massive problem that the masses in my great country have. They dont want to be logical, or reasoned, or try and figure things out, they think they have the answer, the only answer, and they are going to run with it, similar to what you have done.

            You bring up patents, without realizing it does not help your case. The vast majority of the patents applied for and granted now are trash. They either describe extremely vague concepts so that they are so broad the author will want them to cover things he never envisioned, are just public domain things but “on a computer or phone”, describe a mathematical concept on any combination of the previously mentioned.

          • You are an art student who also got an excellent education in science. Bravo!

          • Tim I don’t know where you got taught science but a basic introductory course in modern physics (quantum mechanics) would explain exactly why something can come from nothing. Additionally, a strictly thermodynamic approach regarding evolution is entirely appropriate when considering that systems tend to disorder (use energy less efficiently). Are you more efficient than a plant?

            Source: engineer

        • Look in the mirror, CLP. You are one of the ignorant that this article is talking about.

        • The playground goes in the middle of the sewage treatment plant; yep, that’s intelligent design alright.

        • You do know that adaptation is what fuels evolution, right? And it’s not just the fossil record that supports it, but DNA does as well. We’ve mapped the genome of a Neanderthal woman (Wilma) and what on earth are you talking about “proven to be their own species?” That statement doesn’t even make sense. And we didn’t evolve from apes. For you to say that proves that you have no conception of what evolution is all about. Birds are the descendants of dinosaurs. Today, scientists are manipulating their DNA to isolate former genetic material that they possessed as dinosaurs to produce offspring with tails, more elongated legs and other theropod features. Intelligent design has a built-in flaw. What created the creator?

        • The fact that you don’t understand what “theory” means in a scientific context proves you don’t actually know what you’re talking about.

    • SaraHTUN

      As a comedian once noted when discussing the “evolution vs. Creation” debate. His entire argument can be summed up with one word:

      :FOSSILS !!!…….FOSSILS……FOSSILS…..!!!!

    • “With scientists leading the millions around the world who believe in creation and have disproved evolution more convincingly than evolutionists have proven their theory…”

      WAT. In what reality did this happen? Are you off your meds, sweetheart?

  6. While I agree with the general thrust of the article, there are some areas I disagree with. First, the assertion that these people are uninformed is inaccurate. They are informed by their religious/cultural system. Until those of us who wish to address this cultural clash (I include myself in this) recognize this, we won’t get very far. It’s not simple ignorance, it’s a matter of of adhering to different authority structures and intellectual/cultural systems. The tricky question isn’t “how do we make them just like us?”, it’s “how do we bridge that cultural divide?”. Anyway, I think that’s a much more useful question.

    Second, the idea that a lot of people think science is (at least overall) a force for good but don’t trust scientists isn’t that strange a combination of ideas. First of all, a healthy skepticism, not authority, is meant to be the basis of scientific thought. Second, there are lots of examples of cases where we’ve seen that we shouldn’t just trust scientists – look at the bozo who wrote the study that the anti-vaccine crowd continue to cite or the countless abuses of trust that the pharmaceutical companies have perpetrated using the names of ghost writers.

    Third, there theory of evolution that Darwin put forth, while still seen as accurate in broad terms, is not without its issues; something that has been addressed by more recent science (e.g. the idea of survival as being purely competitive has been nuanced with the observation that cooperation within and between species is also hugely important).

    Finally, the nod social darwinism the article closes with is just asinine. I hope the author just thought it was cute and doesn’t actually subscribe to this long outdated, idiotic and racist (not to mention anti-disability) ideology.

    • We have had 150 years of free education…plus public libraries in North America….there is no excuse for anyone being that ignorant.

      • A failure to trust in what scientific research tells us is defined as ignorance with no excuses? Hmm interesting…given that you do not believe in the existence of certain psychiatric illnesses such as ADHD. Are you ignorant or skeptical?

        • Had you checked, you’d have discovered that people in the field abandoned ADHD as a fad.

          • I work in the field and you are completely incorrect. You are showing your ignorance. Perhaps you would like to “LOL” now…..dumb it down a little more.

          • Actually, Emily…..they have continued with their research on ADHD. They have clarified what causes it, and have renamed it:

            It is now referred to as, “Incompetent teacher can’t deal with students syndrome”

            The cure apparently, is to medicate growing minds and paralyze them into submission.

            I would suspect that Big-Pharma had a lot to do with the “research” showing this is a growing problem.

            Apparently, kids being kids is quite a lucrative trade in the Ritalin market.

        • Sorry, it’s just recently out in book form. Maybe you should keep up. LOL

          Adhd Does Not Exist – Dr Richard Saul

          • Must be true if its written in a book.

          • Must be true if its written in a book.

            I read that.

          • I don’t think that you’ve read the book. Even a perusal on shows:

            “One thing that Saul does not do is prove that ADHD does not exist. In fact, he has a whole chapter about it’s existence – he just doesn’t call it ADHD. He essentially uses a semantic argument to show how ADHD and his definition (Neurochemical Distractibility/Impulsivity) differ, but they are the same thing in reality.”

            Emily, did you get much past the title of the book? Did you actually read it, or just take the title, and…”run with it.”

            Emily, just because “some people” in the field abandon it (and a lot of that is just to get press, any press), and keep in mind, the abandonment is not what you think, such an “abandonment” is far from an educated consensus. One exception does not disprove the rule. One cold day in winter does not disprove global climate TRENDS.

            Best of luck.

          • Actually he said it’s 20 different things, mistaken for something on it’s own.

            And others agree with him.

            A sign of poor reading comprehension is taking every word literally.

          • Like the global warming debate…..the good folks who produce “South Park” have already made an episode about ADHD that more clearly show the foolishness of the latest bandwagons; whether in science, or ADHD.

            If you have seen it…..I’m sure you will see the truth of it.

      • Deliberate Dumbing Down of Reading

        It seems that Grade 6 reading level is what sophisticated propaganda techniques depend on. So, why shouldn’t reading levels be kept down if a compliant, uncomplaining populace is the aim of decision-makers?

        And libraries? Since when did people in this “modern” era go to libraries to inform themselves about public affairs that affect them?

    • Your points are very insightful. People are informed by their differing world views. Even those on this thread have exhibited confirmation bias on numerous occasions when they have dismissed scientific findings that disagreed with what they believed to be true.

    • you said thrust..heheh

  7. There’s no question the U.S. is declining intellectually, and many parts of the country are backwards and dragging things down. However, you can be at the same time religious — not “spiritual,” actually religious — and still acknowledge the veracity of evolutionary theory, climate change, gun control and the Big Bang Theory. What I find so offensive about those who place all their faith in science and reflexively bash the religious is the blindness to the political aspect to the argument. This article’s reference to such things as the Washington Post and cable news sources reveals the writer’s liberal bias — there’s no more potent cult in the current environment than liberal groupthink. It’s far easier to join the mob and bully those who hold traditional values than it is to think critically and come to your own, personally held beliefs. Real life will teach some hard truths. If you disagree with religious people, fine. No problem. But don’t simply disparage someone’s deeply held and harmless beliefs out of a sense of self righteousness. Any belief system that’s not confident enough to spread of its own merit without coercion is not worth believing in. And liberalism and atheism seem very much to need hard persuasion to survive. Scientific enquiry is a wonderful thing — but what could be more unscientific than the phrase “the science is settled?” Would Newton, Einstein or any of their peers have ever uttered such nonsense?

    • Well actually there’s well over a billion atheists in the world….we survive just fine, in spite of all the fairy tales. Why you then dragged political partisanship and irrelevant phrases into the topic, I don’t know.

      Bullying?? Srsly???

    • “It’s far easier to join the mob and bully those who hold traditional values than it is to think critically and come to your own, personally held beliefs.”

      A ridiculous, not to mention false assertion. Those who hold fast to traditional religious values are subscribing to long-established, conventional mores they accept at face value. They do not necessarily come to hold those beliefs through deep reflection and soul searching. They have faith, they trust, they glory in tradition. And it’s their right to do so. But to insinuate that atheists are bullies incapable of holding reasoned, thought-out beliefs is inflammatory and baseless. The atheist reflects. He searches. He questions, learns from, and explores the religious landscape until he comes to a belief system that is his own. So while I appreciate your effort to write a cogent argument in favour of religiosity, your statement is ill-conceived. Perhaps not the best example of critical thinking.

      • Taking it further, I would describe most of the people where I live to be “religious” to varying degrees. I would venture to say most of them arrived at their position by default. They were born Catholics, have gone to the same church since childhood, celebrate the same traditions and holidays year in and year out. I personally doubt they underwent the crisis of faith that accompanied many of my friends who took the path to atheism.

      • Atheists are people who lack a belief in a God or Gods.
        Nothing more. Some atheists believe the most absurd nonsense. Some are climate denialists. Some anti vaccers.

        When people attribute anything other then the lack of a belief in God to atheists, they are frequently mistaken.

        Anyone who thinks liberals are all about group think clearly are not paying attention. Liberals don’t have news shows like Fox News that distribute the daily talking points.

    • “What I find so offensive about those who place all their faith in science and reflexively bash the religious is the blindness to the political aspect to the argument.” Next thing said out of this guy’s mouth “What did Science ever prove that religion couldn’t?! put your faith where it belongs!”
      and who the hell wants to mix religion with politics.

    • “There’s no more potent cult in the current environment than liberal groupthink.” Actually there is… and it is a real cult! Its called Christianity.

    • Harmless beliefs? You must be joking…religion has been used as a tool to enslave, humiliate and kill people since it was first created. There is nothing harmless about using some ancient bullsh*t spouted off by illiterate sheep herders to create public policies in the modern era that effect the lives of hundreds of millions. Your so called “harmless” beliefs limit important scientific studies that could save millions of lives. Religion has and always will have its hands bathed in blood.

  8. This article is dumb, particularly in light of the outright war on science that the Canadian government has undertaken over the last 8 years. Hell, it seems every month there is at least one “global warming isn’t real” opinion piece published in Macleans, so clearly the anti-science, anti-intellectual disease is spreading.

    • What is really interesting is that when you go through the list of science people are skeptical about…evolution, global warming, vaccination, medical research… there likely isn’t a person alive who isn’t skeptical about at least one of those scientific-based research issues. If you spend any time on any discussion boards, you will find people who are skeptical about the safety of medications; the veracity of the science behind global warming; the safety of genetically-altered foods, research about lifestyle choices, etc. People tend to pick and choose the science they believe in regardless of their level of education and there is strong confirmation bias across all partisan lines.

      • ‘We’ve arranged a global civilization in which the most crucial elements profoundly depend on science and technology. We have also arranged things so that no one understands science and technology. This is a prescription for disaster. ”

        Carl Sagan.

        • Is that why people dismiss some scientific research as “fads” and accept other scientific research because it supports what they already believe to be true?

        • Of course they do….good money in ADHD….and drugs

          But….Adhd Does Not Exist – Dr Richard Saul

          • ONE doctor. Versus everyone else.

            Thanks to ONE now-discredited scientist and celebrity followers, we have a huge anti-vaccination cult.

            You looking to take Jenny McCarthy’s spot on The View?

          • I think you should go hang your head in shame over that one, Bram.

          • As usual, Em, when you have no counter-argument, you simply try to hide the fact by mocking the person who pointed out your argument doesn’t hold water.

            “Bram” for the win, in other words.

    • Waynne manners noted:
      “Hell, it seems every month there is at least one “global warming isn’t real” opinion piece published in Macleans, so clearly the anti-science, anti-intellectual disease is spreading.’

      Wayne, did you perhaps consider that some scientists are actually beginning to do the work of REAL Science? Instead of the anti-science, anti-intellectual disease spreading……….it may be a case of actual science, and actual intellectual debate beginning.

      that’s how it works bud. NOTHING should be beyond debate…..even if you happen to disagree with it.

  9. Blah, blah, blah. This is simply thinly veiled America bashing.

    Why is it that when I visit the USA I rarely meet these types of folks mentioned in this article? And how is it that the USA remains, by far, the only superpower on earth? The USA has incredible depth in their knowledge and intelligence.

    When Canada can build a plastic plane (the 787) or create from scratch a company like Apple, I might change my tune, but this article is cr@p.

    • We’re not allowed to criticize America? Where did you get that idea?

      The US is not a superpower and never was. They haven’t won any military action in at least 50 years….including Iraq and Afghanistan.

      If you don’t know about Canada’s inventions or advances….whose fault is that?

      • Nobody invents more or patents more or creates more new superbusinesses then the United States does.

        I’m all for criticism (especially the Liberals and how they’ve hastened the downfall of Ontario), but bashing, which is all this article is, I can do without.

        • There are 7B people in the world…..Americans are no different than anyone else.

          • yet only 1 billion atheists. Interesting.

          • Nobody but the Americans has built a plastic passenger plane, or built a company like Apple, or landed humans on the moon, or done more to help AIDS sufferers in Africa.

            I love Canada but there’s no denying that the USA still rocks!

          • Walter and only 2 billion Christians, that is even more interesting, as Atheists were persecuted and killed up until about 200 years ago.

        • Not ‘interesting’ Walter…..bloody….and shameful. Torture and stake-burning account for a lot of atheists staying in closets……13 countries have the death penalty for atheists today.

          • Atheists have put more folks to death then anyone else. Remember the 20th. century?

          • Atheists have never put anyone to death Chris….in the 20th or any other century.

            Stop reading your teabags.

          • Gosh you are an opinionated asshole aren’t ya! It wouldn’t be so bad if you were ever RIGHT about anything! LOL

          • Stalin and Mao take the prize. And both were Godless.

        • So other countries that invented democracy, industrialization, space flight, cars, the web and so on don’t matter?

          Mostly the US has gone to war.

          • Oh my, so Emilyone thinks “Atheists have never put anyone to death Chris….in the 20th or any other century”. If this wasn’t such an ignorant statement it would be laughable. Atheist Russian communism murders more than 8 million Ukrainians, Hitler with his Nazi Darwinian worldview destroys millions deemed by him inferior and communist atheist China with it’s atrocities and Emilyone has the gall to make a statement such as this? Well, it goes well with most of her other previous comments.

          • Both Hitler and Stalin were RC. In fact Stalin was a seminary student.

            Neither of them killed anyone for atheism….in fact German soldiers wore ‘Gott mitt us’ on their belt buckles.


            Chinese are mostly Buddhists. They’ve never been into deities. Same with Pol Pot.

            Your history needs a tune-up.

            PS….there is no ‘Darwinian world view’

          • Don’t worry JOEC, you’re not correcting me. Come back when you can distinguish an economic system from a political one, and a religion from a philosophy.

            Oh and an education from bumperstickers.

          • “Both Hitler and Stalin were RC.”

            Were you baptized or otherwise welcomed into a religion by your parents, Emily? If so, then by your own reasoning, you aren’t an atheist, as neither of these two remained in the church (BTW, Stalin wasn’t RC to start with). If early membership in a faith marks one for life as a member – even when one explicitly renounces the faith and publicly declares oneself atheist, as Stalin did – then there are few true atheists, only lapsed whatevers.

            Nor were their atrocities committed in the name of Christianity. In fact, most of the acts of war you (and others) blame on the religious – esp. in the last few centuries – were not committed in the name of religion, but of country.

            But don’t let a little thing like facts stop you now; they never have before…

        • sure they patent more but then, like edison, they buy, or outright steal, those ideas they patent. and many of the scientists and inventors in the USA have come from another country because the USA is willing to pay for research as long as the results can somehow be used by the military

          • Emily is misinformed about so many things…

            The majority of Chinese are not Buddhists. Never have been, either. In fact, most Chinese people have, both historically and in the present, not identified with a particular religion. Rather, they see the different religious specialists (i.e. Daoists, Confucians, and Buddhists) as being particularly good at specific rituals. Buddhists, for instance, are really good for funerals, but no one wants a monk to perform a wedding because they symbolize renunciation from the life of a householder.

            Also, Buddhists have TONES of deities, and they added all of the indigenous Chinese deities and spirits to their pantheon, same as they did everywhere else they went.

            The Communist Party of China is and always has been an atheist movement. There was a thing in the 60’s called the Cultural Revolution that involved ransacking and demolishing most of the religious sites of China that you might want to look up. And in Tibet, they executed countless monks and nuns, as well as forcing them to have sex, along with countless other atrocities, all in the name of getting rid of superstition (i.e. atheism). Similar things happened to religious practitioners in the rest of China, too.

            I know there’s really no point in correcting Emily, but sometimes I can’t help myself.

          • Joec.. Say what? Buddhists in general have NO deities. There is a small subset that believe in deities, the Mahavana, but not the vast majority

      • Except their victories in the Grenada and Panama wars in the 1980’s, or the Gulf War where the (mostly US) military vaporized Iraq’s million-strong military in a week including tank battles where US tanks annihilated their tanks 1 on 1 easily, or Iraq 2 where the US conquered the country in a month, spent years protecting the new Parliamentary Democratic government, then left the country as a democracy. Whether Iraqis can maintain democracy now is up to them. Or Afghanistan where a coalition of nations run but the US including us conquered the country and now work tirelessly to bring Afghanistan out of the stone ages and protect the population from occasional tribal barbarian attacks.

        Don’t forget the Balkans where the US-backed NATO bombed and suppressed the Serbian forces and sent their leadership the Hague and have kept the peace for over a decade now.

        • The US hasn’t won anything since WWII….and they showed up late at that after all the heavy lifting was done.

          PS You misspelled your name.

      • Emily….

        If America hasn’t “won” a war in the last 50 years, it is NOT because they were incapable of it. They have simply lacked the will.

        With the American military machine currently in place, both Iraq and Afghanistan would have been a walk in the park. Of course, if they had done what they were capable of doing, the “victories” would have just been two countries in name only… all the native inhabitants would have been dead.

        With the American’s military strength….winning is easy. It’s the living with what you have done to other humans which makes it difficult. That’s another curse of having America being a Christian country………….that damned Jesus guy just makes you feel guilty with all his, “do unto others'” crap.

    • @ Chris545 “Why is it that when I visit the USA I rarely meet these types of folks mentioned in this article?”

      Two answers, one of them only semi-serious:

      1: Highly unrepresentative sampling:
      By the very virtue of the fact that you’re a border-hopping internationalist (even if just crossing one border, between adjacent countries that have considerable cultural overlap, and, for most of the citizens of each, a common language), you’re not likely to meet and interact with too many of the ones who are willfully, aggressively ignorant.
      Want to “meet” some of these folks (see, it’s catching) virtually?
      Spend some time in some of our political chat-threads, especially in the sites for Yahoo”News,” USA Today, the Wall Street Journal, and — once you’ve worked your way up to it (jumping in all at once without acclimation could prove more than you could handle) — Fox”News.”
      If you really want to go hardcore, try FreeRepublic — but don’t say you weren’t warned.

      2: I’ll bet you spend little time south of the Mason-Dixon line.
      As former soi-disant comedian, and latterday rightwing tool, Dennis Miller once famously said, “I don’t know why they call it the ‘Deep South;’ these people are anything but.”

      “The USA has incredible depth in their knowledge and intelligence.”

      Thank you, most kind of you — but, sadly, we have phenomenal depth, and breadth, in our ignorance and stupidity as well.


  10. A huge conundrum: telling people they’re stupid, that they’re voting for the wrong party, that they should just listen to the experts only makes “the problem” worse.

    • Rome said that too.

      • Emily knows, she was there. ;)

        • True, but I was just visiting.

    • agreed.

    • agreed, this is why there is so much distrust in America. I mean some sit up there in their ivory towers, on their blogs/elite magazines and post about how foolish they are for not listening to the “intellectuals” would only serve to push them away. Looking down on Americans like that is, quite frankly, abhorrent.

  11. And meanwhile the US’s clever neighbours to the north are electing the likes of Rob Ford and Stephen Harper. Come on Canada, this is no time to get smug, we’re just as bad.

    • Electing Harper has proved beneficial to the country as a whole. Electing Liberals in Ontario has proven to be disastrous.

  12. No, America is not dumbing down.

    Macleans’, on the other hand……


  13. Actually it’s probably older America….people from the sixties or fifties or earlier, small towns or farming….factories etc

    The ones Obama spoke about as being guns, religion, anti-immigrant…

    In comparison to young city adults today, they would certainly come across as ‘dumber’.

    Check out any ‘tea party’ rally. Misspelled signs and grey hair.

    • So you’re saying people get dumber as they get older?

      Explains a lot…

      • Your hearing’s going.

        • What??????

        • Huh???

          • yup, the younger you are the Smarter you think you are. It’s true.

  14. Excellent article, thank you, it should be printed on page one of every newspaper in the USA for a YEAR!

    You do realize ‘some good ole boy polytician isa gonna stan upn say’ “oh I think that theory has been disproved” and 200 million Americans are going to breathe a sigh of relief and quickly discard this nonsense.

    The ‘dumbing down’ of society in the USA was announced in the 60s as an agenda. I never thought it could be this effective, amazing.

  15. I am so very, very tired of international media focusing on the 20% of morons in our culture and suggesting it applies to everyone else. The majority supports Barack Obama. The majority is in favor of progressive ideas. Do we have idiots? Of course we do. You also have them in Canada. I’ve been called “pinko” and “Demorat” by many Canadians.

    It may make you feel superior, for whatever reason you need to feel that way, to us, but it is demonstrably unfair to suggest this is the majority of Americans. It isn’t. We elected Obama — twice. We’re a very beaten down, taken-advantage-of people who are worked over by predatory capitalism, and yet international media continue to make us the villains in all this. My older sister died because she didn’t have health insurance. She was a mother and, in a couple of months, would have become a grandmother. She was a human being — even if she was “just” an American. The psychopaths who took over my country in 1980 have done a brilliant job of turning their first-line victims into their fall guys. The truth, however, remains what it is.

    In short, stuff your smug self-importance.

    • No, the majority is not “progressive” and to suggest that unless you’re progressive you’re some toothless backwoods redneck is elitist and absolutely preposterous. Plenty of intelligent, law abiding people are against gun control with good reason. Plenty of intelligent normal people are in favor of changing the way our system works, in a different way than the Dems. In fact, Obama’s approval is down the crapper. I know more people that dislike him than like him. He’s taking money from the masses and giving it to the rich as did Dubya. He’s also killed more children with drone strikes and conducted so much more unlawful surveillance than his predecessor. There’s plenty more libertarians out there than you’d know from your holier-than-thou pedestal, sipping your Starbucks.

  16. Dear Mr. Gatehouse:

    I agree with much you say, but Charles Darwin as a source of anything? Really?

    Beyond that, you make your arguments with vague, fuzzy, unsourced Rush Limbaugh-isms: “a national poll,” “average citizens,” “a 2013 survey,” and stereotypes (“Boomers”).

    You, as a writer for a great newspaper in a great nation, should develop your thesis with more sophistication than a high school sophomore.

  17. Without painting too wide a brush just look at what the millions find popular and watch on prime TV.
    Reality TV from Duck Dynasty to Baby Boo Boo along with the really shallow humour in so many TV comedies verge on pathetic.
    Even the History Channel has no more history but alligator hunters and their crew or ice truckers etc. and please Hoaders and 700 lb people…it is pathetic.
    Dumbing down is such an apt title.

  18. Survival of the fittest doesn’t mean survival of the strongest, fittest, fastest, or selfish. It means the fittest for with regard to selection pressures that exist on the organisms. So fittest, in this case, could mean mist co-operative, most empathetic, most reciprocal. An ironic mistake by the author given the subject matter.

  19. Funny how you left out the GMO controversy. Agenda much?

  20. “It’s not the strongest of the species which survive, nor the most intelligent, but the ones most responsive to change”

    Charles Darwin

  21. While the country is becoming dumber it remains the premier destination for top scientists and scientific research.US universities are global leaders and its innovation is the envy of the world.The problem to me is more one of income inequality.As resources get concentrated in the hands of a few rich elites the quality of education goes down for everyone else.It is a purposful ignorance,dumb and ignorant people are less likely to complain or disobey orders.

  22. “…Smart money versus dumb voters is hardly a fair fight….”
    How can the average American voter be anything but dumb? Take ’08/’09 -over a $trillion was extorted out of the American people via their own Gov’t, in bed with those International Theives -called Wall Street. Bush and his Reaganomics anti-regulation policies against everything, may have caused it, but Obama has done nothing about it.

    Since then, what, over 2-million homeless, and even more homes were fore-closed upon, not to mention the Job losses that resembled the Great Depression.
    But seriously, what was done about it ? nothing at all.
    -atleast with Roosevelt, and the “New Deal”,…, and eventually America prospered, re-built.

    Their own “Constitution” allows them to bear arms’, and yeh, even overthrow their own Gov’t, if they have to. They don’t seem to have the “guts” for the latter though, now do they.?
    They’ve been conditioned to be “stoopid”.

    So what does it take the avg. American Voter ? – well, unfortunately, it won’t happen with this older generation because sadly, yet again, it’s true, “…Smart money versus dumb voters is hardly a fair fight….”
    Seriously, just look at that “picture”, in this article ! -these are “wacko” people, and unfortunately represent the “largest”/baby boomer voting generation.
    Do you see an average Canadian, dressed like that will a Maple leaf on their GUNS?, yet ? -and let’s hope NOT.
    For every (intellectual) “common-sense” American baby-boomer Voter, you also have an equal number of these extremely mislead baby-boomer American Voters.-and they’ve been “polarized” since day one, and it’s been very endemic, as has already been proven.

    But the up n coming “scientifically” smarter American generational Voters who can definitely see through these smoke n mirrors, are hardly enough Votes to swing anything. -Then again, isn’t that exactly what the powers-that-be, Big brother, whatever,…, want in the first place?

    It’s not really hard to see all this, or even where it’s contunually going to lead, unless of course some kind-of “enlightenment” is suddenly going to hit ALL American Voters, -> and NO, by “enlightenment”, I do NOT mean “…Moses coming down from Capitol Hill…” but then again, remeber? “…I had a dream…”

    And, Canada, (no thanks to the Mulrooney’s, and Harpo’s), has slowly become sooo parallel with America now, that, whatever happens to them, will happens to us.

  23. Having been born and currently residing in the State of South Carolina, mentioned in the first paragraph of this article, I take offense to the generalization of all of the citizens of this state. Further, I take offense to the generalization of the citizens of this country.

    While there are certain aspects of this article I concur with, for example the addition of creationism language TO legislation in my opinion should not have been included. The bill as written “The woolly mammoth is designated as the official state fossil of South Carolina.” would have sufficed.

    The next order of business is regards to “The American public’s bias against established science” is again generalized. Polls can include as many or as few participants as needed to get the desired results. If someone wants 1000 people to speak for a country of more than 315 million people, that is 1:315000, that is what is biased.

    Because someone doesn’t believe in global warming, but does believe in climate change, does that make them stupid? No, it means they have a different belief. It wasn’t that long ago people Galileo had to convince the earth was round, yet there are some people who still believe the earth is flat.

    Science and religion, believe it or not, can coexist and I see it daily.

    Moving on to the next point about gun control, there is not much to say other than when was the last time a “NO GUNS” sign stopped a shooting? Washington DC and Chicago IL have some of the toughest gun laws in the country, yet look at the murder rate.

    While there are many uninsured Americans out there, the Affordable Health Care Act—a.k.a. Obamacare, is not a solve all. My personal insurance would almost double under their plan versus my private insurance. Nothing else I can say about that either other than there are not “death panels” instead there are review committees.

    Next subject is the the wire taps and spying. Name one country that does not do it. Does that make it right? ABSOLUTELY NOT. Not all Americans have the attitude “Safety before privacy” Some of us get right down pissed off.

    A final word about generalizations. Not all of us are ignorant, not all are complacent in what is happening around us.

    • CLIF,

      I am an athiest, but I don’t look down upon religious folks. If you take the average Christian and look at their values; they are admirable.
      1. Don’t steal, lie, or cheat.
      2. Respect others’, help the weak and needy.
      3. Wait until marriage before having children
      4. Work hard, pay your taxes, and be good neighbours.
      5. Be compassionate, and turn the other cheek.

      This is scarey to progressives. Progessives are of the “anything goes” ideology….unless of course it diverges from their own. Now look at the list above and realize that progressives don’t want this kind of behaviour breaking out all over the place. How are progressives to show their moral superiority when everyone they despise beats them on all scales.

  24. I am writing this as someone who does not believe in God. This referring to religious people as stupid is its own brand of ignorance. Perhaps amid the heap of statistical data that he compiled Mr. Gatehouse forgot to look around him and study actual human beings. Half of the people I know are religious and many of them believe the earth was created in six days. I assure you, none of them are stupid. They are, in my opinion, wrong about evolution. I am certain of it. So, Mr. Gatehouse, express an opinion, be certain of your opinion; but don’t call people stupid. Didn’t you learn that in school?

    • You got a better word for stupid?

      • Your frustration is understandable. One of the problems of democracies these days is that they give people the power to impose their own views on the rest of society. It is much easier to be tolerant of people who think differently if they can’t do that. In my opinion the primary responsibility of government in a free society is to prevent people from asserting power over each other, not to facilitate it. What I’ve observed over the years is an escalating competition for who decides how everyone else will live. Intolerance is inevitable in this scenario. So I ask you, what kind of society are you working toward: one in which people are forced to abide by your opinions or one in which no one gets to determine how everyone else lives? Think about it.

    • Man created “god” in his image. Lets not forget how old human species are and how young Christianity is… Anyone who believes the earth was created in 6 days may not be stupid, but they also didn’t pass an elementary level education… If anything these folks should follow Lord of the Rings as a religion or something… At least it is a better story

  25. ..well, folks.. mosta’ us didn’t need no hi-falutin’ collich study to see this was happenin’!..
    .. what really worries me is the inevitable ‘cultural purge’ as in China in the ’60s.. perhaps the artists, scientists, and educators will be seen as the much dreaded ‘zombies’ in that event…

    • If there is a cultural purge of rednecks…most of us will happily join in.

  26. Apparently dumb is defined as anything that is contrary to the writer’s opinion, actual facts notwithstanding. Just one example: it’s a fact that a gun free zone is far more dangerous than a guns allowed zone. And where is it proven that BO is the most intellectual president in recent history? Far easier to prove he’s the most incompetent.

    • IQ is measurable.

      • Yes, IQ is measurable but no IQ’s were measured for the sake of this article.

    • FWIW, gun ownership rates correlate positively with lower IQs. And most of the gun nuts I’ve met bear out that fact. =)

      • Rob Locke: “Gun ownership rates correlate positively with lower IQs”.

        You must be one of the tolerant and inclusive crowd. Would you like a beer with your sneer?

      • By your logic Rob Locke…… is clear that you must own quite the arsenal….you just don’t want to admit it.

  27. Here I am, thinking wow things truly have devolved in this country and that is a bitter pill to swallow. But the quality of this article, with its brilliant insight and perspective gives me hope for the future, although never heard of Macleans…. oh right because, they’re Canadian. Of course.

  28. As an American, I can really relate to a lot of your points. The most poignant being the one about news filtering among the educated. I graduated from a good college recently and I am in professional school, and I can tell you, while I thought the students at my college were politically overcharged or uninformed, the students here in professional school lack the ability to separate fact from opinion. This danger has sucked up a lot of very intelligent young people in the US. New sites like Vice, Fox News, Huffington Post, etc. offer news written by those who either do not possess any type of authority or any objective capability when it comes to a subject. It is dangerous. I see it first hand every day. There is no debate, no conversation. Everyone knows their stances, which are cemented until further notice. It comes down from our politicians, who have managed to polarize our country into two groups: 1) the minority poor and liberal social elite, and 2) lower middle class of Middle America and the conservative social elite. All the rest of us are watching it slowly roast.

  29. Witness the result of decades of covert propaganda. People are as disinformed as they are ignorant, all for the benefit of the rising oligarchs. I’d love to see a national conversation about the history of corporate propaganda, the role of front groups and paid pundits in disseminating the disinformation, it’s extent and effectiveness in fooling the voting public, and the manipulation of church-goers for hidden profit interests. Check out “Resisting the Green Dragon” for this sort of abuse: it’s a DVD series that warns Christians that environmentalism is a heretical cult and that a carbon tax is the work of the devil. It is put out by conservative front groups funded by big oil. I think that is a truly evil thing to do.

  30. “Barack Obama, the most cerebral and eloquent American leader in a generation”

    “Yet efforts to fill that gaping hole via the Affordable Health Care Act—a.k.a. Obamacare—remain distinctly unpopular. Nonsensical myths about the government’s “real” intentions have found so much traction that 30 per cent still believe that there will be official “death panels” to make decisions on end-of-life care.

    Yeah Gatehouse…those idiots that do political analysis for Time Magazine are pretty dumb eh?

    “MALZBERG, HOST: A lot of people said you weren’t going to be able to keep your health care, but also they focused on the death panels, which will be coming, call them what you will, rationing, is part of it…

    HALPERIN: No, I agree, and that’s going to be a huge issue, and that’s something else on which the president was not fully forthcoming and straightforward.

    MALZBERG: So, you believe there will be rationing, a.k.a. death panels?

    HALPERIN: It’s built into the plan. It’s not like a guess or like a judgment. That’s going to be part of how costs are controlled.

    Maclean’s should simply stop writing about the US altogether. You’re embarrassing yourselves.

  31. There’s too much bullishit here to even respond to it all. This writer is clearly a liberal asshole.

  32. I’m very liberal but I have to say, the part about guns ruins this article and makes me not want to share it with my friends. Stop acting as if this issue is equivalent to people not believing in evolution and climate change. It’s not. I’m for some regulations too but the real issue is scientific illiteracy, and this is an issue of opinion and not science.

    • Leaving the other issues aside, it is actually gun control advocates who base their argument on emotion, hyperbole and lack of reason and science. Most of the facts and data are on the side of lawful gun ownership.

      As just one example: From a peak in the early 1990s, the crime rate in the US has dropped steadily to HALF of what it used to be. During this same period of time, gun laws have been liberalized, more citizens carry guns and the number of guns in private hands has increased from 200 million to 300 million. It’s hard to argue with this basic fact.

      • Kevin P, please post links to your statistical source(s). Also, I really don’t think any conclusion about guns’ positive/negative impacts are really that clear cut.

        It’s true that violent crime has been on a steady decline since the early 1990’s, but that trend tracks fairly evenly across all states, including the ones with the tightest gun control laws (like California and Hawaii), not just the ones in which anti-gun control measures are being implemented.

        Also, we don’t have any single data source to say with certainty how many guns are being purchased into how many households. We have some self-reported data. We have some data about background checks, which indicate an intent to purchase but do not confirm a purchase, and we have gun sales data. Self-reported data (as polled by Gallup, for several years now) indicates a decline in gun ownership since the 1990’s, with an uptick since 2010. But Gallup data tracks households with guns, not how many guns per household. So gun ownership per household may well be declining while individuals may also be accumulating more and more guns, but in fewer households. This “personal arsenals” model accounts for a downtick in household gun ownership, and also an uptick in gun purchases and background checks. But none of this is confirmed, only statistically implied.

        We can look at broader metrics, like the number of gun violence incidents overlaid upon regions and their relative gun ownership. And in that case, it’s pretty clear that the more guns in any given area, the higher the incidents of gun violence. That’s a correlation, not an iron-clad causation; perhaps more violent regions motivate people to arm themselves. Or perhaps more guns enables more gun violence.

        I personally support responsible, reasonable gun ownership, but see no problem with background checks and waiting periods. It seems pretty obvious that militaristic super guns and automatic weaponry don’t have a natural role in our society, any more than a army tank has a place on our civilian roadways.

        But my original point was and is, gun ownership and violence in America is a complicated issue that really can’t be nailed down into a few absolutes that neatly comprise a single point of view. It really is a complicated subject and to reduce it to slogans or polarized cherry-picking is unhelpful to the vital task of developing a public policy that protects personal liberty and human life with equal aplomb.

  33. While there is a strong strain of anti-intellectualism in the United States, it is not necessarily so unhealthy as the author seems to believe. The shared consensus of intellectuals has often been wrong, and has sometimes been especially destructive due to the strength given it by consensus.

    Likewise, an appreciation for science does not necessarily correlate with trust in self-styled scientists. The educated classes who are most suspicious of new “scientific” findings are often so because of their familiarity with the shoddy nature of much “scientific” research – especially in the soft sciences – not because of a problem with the scientific method as a way of discovering truth.

    As a hint, people who get upset when others question “settled” science are those who understand science the least. If you believe in “settled” science, you’re doing it wrong.

    • As a chemical engineer, I appreciate this post.

      Science is never a business of consensus, expert opinion or credentials. You can either prove that something is a fact, or you cannot. Like you, I have seen a lot of gun control advocacy masquerading as “public health science research”, where anyone who is a little numerate can easily identify the cherry picking and misleading distractions that were used to make a political point.

  34. Look at the US military and their lack of standards allowing druggies and rapist to have guns and serve and then give them GI Bills where there go to colleges where rapes are increasing like they are in the military!
    Rape in the US is worse than a third world country and most are not documented!

  35. Canada is on the same path with Harper’s anti-science agenda.

    • Lisa,

      Your Harper Derangement Syndrome is showing.

      Harper has nothing against science……he is against bogus science “created” by climate activists with an agenda. An agenda that includes taking billions from the taxpayers to fund the latest gimmicks dreamed up by socialists.

      If you want to know what anti-science looks like….just look at the Green Energy Act in Ontario. Why do you think we pay four times for power than what it costs? Why do you think industry is leaving Ontario?

      hint….it ain’t Harper. It’s McGinty and Wynne’s legacy. Double the debt…..and bankrupt the province.

      • Harper has nothing against science? Come on, James – you know better than that!

        Canadian scientists have been muzzled; their research archives destroyed; the list goes on and on. Basically, if it doesn’t suit Harper’s agenda, not only does HE not want to hear about it… he wants to make sure WE don’t, either.

  36. Check out what the Koch brothers support. Because following science and believing in things like global warming means you are morally obligated to do something about it, which costs money, despots like the Koch brothers will fight science tooth and nail. It’s disgusting really. Recently, Bill Nye was on TV and when he said that scientists agree on global warming, a conservative commentator said that not all do. Bill Nye said, yes it’s only 97% and asked they guy what percent is needed before they will acknowledge there is a problem- 98%? 99%? As long as it is never 100% these power mongers will never admit that science is right because it costs them if science is right. It’s tragic and scary.

  37. Typical article, bundling a variety of off-hand observations and phenomeno without any suggestions as to the direction to which we should cast our gaze for better understanding. Is this purported growing anti-intellectualism a random chance developement or either the side effect or deliberate result of th action or actions of some infuential interests in our society/culture?
    I wish the authors had dug deeper because the answers aren’t that far below the surface – however they aren’t expressable in sound bytes.

  38. I read your article with great interest and, at the same time, sadness. Almost everything said was agreeable, however, it does seem as though you employ the same tactics as those you have ostracized at least once. Media moguls have recently been able to report only that which holds true to their own personal belief spectrum. Don’t you think that you could have been more unbiased, specifically in the portion about gun control. It seems as though, because of your personal beliefs on the subject, that you have deemed having lax gun control as a contributing factor to the increased violence being reported. I may be uninformed, but I have yet to read a study suggesting such a correlation, which would not equal causation regardless. I am of the opinion that restricting our firearms only serves to control those that abide by the law.

    • In fact, A CDC review of all published literature found no proof that gun control measures reduce firearm violence.

      No Proof Gun Laws Reduce Violence

      Perhaps MacLeans is the one that is anti-intellectual and anti-science?

  39. Wow! This article supposedly highlights ignorance south of the border? How about the elitest ignorance behind the pen or in fact the entire editorial board of the magazine. Fact is you can go to any small town whether it be in the rural US or rural Canada and apply this article.
    This piece is a straight up political hit job. “You no think like, me! You stupid! You bad! You Dangerous! Me hate you!” Funny this is the same thought process that spurred the Bolsheviks and Nazi’s the presumption we are so much smarter than you. I am going to site two of the authors own stats to prove this article is a joke. 1. Major Network viewership down. This is not just a US problem (CBC anyone?). As a matter of fact the only people still flocking to the networks if you check the research are the same people the author is insulting. I guess he never heard of the internet, streaming tv, netflix, Roku even. Why spend $150 a month being told what to watch when you could spend $20. Well that sounds dare I say it, educated?

    Sound bites being reduced to 9.7 seconds from 30 years ago? Once again the author totally avoided the advance in technology and the competition for the consumer’s attention.

    Finally the distrust of science. To blindly follow anything because of what it is makes it in itself a dreaded religion even science. Let’s not forget the one of the biggest scandals in the last 40 years was on the “settled” science of climate change. The momentum was there, the time was right but you can’t convert people using alarmist data that was totally hoaxed. The real stuff would have sufficed.
    A distrust of anything is healthy including that of an author with an agenda.

    • Matt,

      One thing you will notice about the Canadian Media (except SUN TV) is that they get a lot of “work” bashing the Americans.

      The next thing you’ll notice….is that most of these media folks, would move to the USA in a heartbeat if offered a job on the big US networks.

  40. U.S. citizens are so stupid that they cannot see what is happening. Imagine, college students there are asking professors to warn them if a reading assignment contains materials that might upset them and to allow them to decide whether or not they will read it. In other words, current students in the U.S. are opting for illiteracy.

  41. “That inarticulate legacy didn’t end with George W. Bush and Sarah Palin. Barack Obama, the most cerebral and eloquent American leader in a generation, regularly plays the same card, droppin’ his Gs and dialling down his vocabulary to Hee Haw standards. is ability to convincingly play a hayseed was instrumental in his 2012 campaign against the patrician Mitt Romney; in one of their televised debates the President referenced “folks” 17 times.”

    In Obama’s case, it’s intentional code switching (and he’s not very good at it)… and that was racist. It’s basically saying, “don’t ‘talk black’, Mr. President, it sounds dumb.”

  42. Could rise of uninformed opinion coincide with creep toward open-borders policy? As we import a new, low-wage workforce to boost profits of our elites even higher, we’re also importing a population barely educated. So this is not a matter of decline as much as change. This is the new American population – ignorant, superstitious, and pliable; that’s a population easily controlled because it’s easily frightened.

    Also, whether or not someone thinks the cosmos began 14.5 billion years ago or a few thousand in a long-lost garden filled with magical trees and a naked, regrettably stupid human couple must be considered along with whatever baggage of magical thinking goes along with ‘sophisticated’ or ‘primitive’. Lots of very smart, progressive people who don’t give a moment of thought to silly Middle Eastern fairy tales also believe armies of Nazis and Klansmen prowl streets looking for nonwhites to attack, that ‘hate’ is a virus that can be cured with this or that group’s self-serving myths, and that gun control will do anything more than guarantee law-abiding, middle-income people will be disarmed.

  43. I thought the Church and State were seperate in the USA.

  44. The kneejerk reaction to guns doesn’t surprise me, but it does seem out of place in an article about anti-intellectualism. Certainly many of the anti-intellectuals in the US are gun owners, some obnoxiously and fanatically so, but there are a great number of Americans across the political spectrum who oppose gun control, and contrary to what the author may believe, there are in fact valid statistical, economic, and social arguments indicating that gun control is not nearly as effective as its proponents claim, if indeed it is effective at all. There are intelligent arguments (and dumb ones) to be made on both sides, but to equate gun rights advocacy with anti-intellectualism along the lines of anti-vaccine nuts, evolution skeptics, or climate change deniers–note that each of the above are basically scientific consensus, whereas the effectiveness of gun control is far from the same–is nothing more than an attempt to smear gun owners as inherently less intelligent simply because of their disagreement with the author’s assumptions. In a way, the opposite, but no more intellectually honest than, what he rightfully accuses American politicans of doing when they accuse someone of being “elitist.”

  45. Please, before you put the US in quarantine for idiocy, LET ME OUT! I can’t stand it here anymore. I did what I was supposed to do: went to college, got a degree, got married, etc. It didn’t help! And now, I’m so worried about my kids and their education. My 12 year old didn’t know who Napolean was, nor Patrick Henry, Paul Revere or most other important historical figures; what the hell are they teaching him?

    Please, some of us have a brain and wish to be through with the idiocy of our “peers.” We just want a place where we’re not ridiculed for actually thinking about things, rather than just trusting sound bites and talking points. Also, can we ship Rush Limbaugh and his ilk to Jupiter or something, please?

    • You have to fill that gap yourself. Ignorance results from parents to busy to pass on what they were taught when young- and that’s the idea. If you can force an entire generation of parents to fail their children, you have instant barbarism- and barbarians are easily ruled.

  46. Anti-nuclear and anti-GMO anti-science conveniently left off this list. Blatant misinformation pushing gun control… Bashing on evolution and climate change deniers… Barack Obama worship… Yep, biased left-wing “author” confirmed.

    • You’re one of the Anti’s are you?

      Anti-evolution, gun-control, climate change, holocaust, vaccination, fluoride, wifi , GMO’s, science, intellect…etc.

      Tsk, one of St Peter’s own.

    • Eric- the majority of lies are very well documented- and came from the right. Science is not an opinion- and guns combined with ignorance is a lethal mix. I have guns- but I’m also a veteran with the knowledge required to use them safely. Global warming is real. The term “American Taliban” is entirely too apt- as someone who has fought the Taliban, it’s no opinion- it’s fact. This culture is being crushed under the weight of fools who couldn’t survive without a lot of people like me- and I swore to defend the country and the constitution. You’re not on my side, bud. You’re the fiddle Nero plays while Rome burns.

      • Craig, thank you very much for your service.
        We all owe you (and everyone who’s ever put on the uniform and said, “Send me!”) a debt that can never be repaid — but must always be acknowledged.
        Hope you made it home safe and sound, and hugely, deeply appreciative of the sacrifices willingly made by so very many who should have, but didn’t.

  47. I agree with the gist of this article. The tendency for Americans to believe what they want to believe, irrespective of the facts, is a source of some concern to me. Here in Canada, I’m not happy to see the Conservative Party edging in the same direction: e.g., by building more prisons despite clear statistical evidence of a reduction in the crime rate.

    So kudos for the article, Jonathon. But I must comment on this statement: “Just 12 per cent [of Americans surveyed] expressed strong confidence in the press to accurately report scientific findings.”

    The public has good reason to be sceptical! Journalists are not experts in science. (I’m inclined to say, journalists are not experts in anything. Journalism requires a broad range of general knowledge, not narrow expertise in a single field.)

    Media outlets do a crappy job of reporting on science. Here’s a clear example I recently came across. Andrew Sullivan passed along an item from the Economist reporting that scientists have discovered a gene that increases intelligence by about six IQ points. One of Sullivan’s readers pushed back:

    I’m quite familiar with this research, and the scientists behind it never tested IQ, nor did they claim to. That idea, and the notion that the KL-VS variant somehow confers a 6 IQ point advantage, was introduced in The Economist‘s coverage of the work, and how they arrived at that number is quite unclear.

    Assuming that Sullivan’s reader knows what s/he is talking about, that’s an appalling misrepresentation of this particular research. I wish I could say that such a mistake is exceptional, but no: I think it’s representative of mistakes made routinely by journalists attempting to summarize the results of scientific studies.

  48. Quite a negative view is given in the conclusion. I for one see a rise in intellect, awareness and positivism especially among our youth. They are even more articulate than the College kids of the 60’s and appear to be better informed. My monies on them to enlighten the moronic masses!

  49. I liked this article until they had to suggest that not supporting gun control was dumbing down. Numerous studies, including ones from the CDC commissioned by Obama, have shown gun control has little to no effect on crime. Of course, gun control is the one subject where people who believe in facts decide to throw that out the window and believe in emotion so I’m not surprised. If anything, Americans are waking up to the fact that the government and the police cannot always be there to protect them and that self defense is not only a civil right, but a personal responsibility.

    • @ Greg “Numerous studies, including ones from the CDC commissioned by Obama, have shown gun control has little to no effect on crime.”

      I call shenanigans.
      (I was tempted to use a seven-letter, single-word expletive, but as this is a Canadian publication, I’ve chosen to euphemise. Either way, this assertion is completely untrue, in multiple ways.)
      First, for nearly 20 years, the CDC, and all other federally-run or federally-supported research entities have been effectively prohibited from conducting any such research — operationally, the equivalent of a gag order.
      It’s true that in January of 2013, Obama signed an executive order directing the CDC to start pursuing such studies again — but none have yet resulted, and it’s unclear whether any ever will, as the 1996 law is still on the books.
      (That statute was passed, of course, by our Publican Congress, under orders from our friends at the NRA.)
      Second, such studies aren’t normally focused on “crime” rates (as if guns had anything to do with most rapes, most muggings, almost all white-collar-crime, etcetc), but on rates of homicide and suicide.
      Nice try, but those are some very heavy, not to mention obvious, goalposts — you’ll need a forklift, at the least.
      And third, recent studies from Harvard’s School of Public Health, among others, show clear and undeniable correlations between the laxity of gun laws, the availability of guns, and the rates of gun-related deaths.
      And, of course, that’s just within the US; the drops in gun-deaths from pre- to post-gun-restrictions in the UK and Australia are also clear and undeniable.

      Just three sources among many:

  50. all life on earth is NOT a product of evolution.
    evolution can not produce life, it can only change and augment it.
    all life on earth MAY BE the product of abiogenesis, or perhaps life on asteroids hitting the earth, that is still somewhat in contention, though abiogenesis seems to have enough evidence to be supported in general as the source of life on earth.
    regardless, the 42% who say life is not a product of evolution are completely correct.
    the level of variation in life is very much a product of evolution.

    just sayin.

    • Within the strictures you place on the argument, you’re right. I suspect that what most are trying to express is the idea that life as we know it- the diversity, the specialization, the sheer variance- are the product of evolutionary action on the ancestral single-celled life which arose through abiogenesis, panspermia, or (pick a theory). Surely it bears little resplendence to the original prokaryotic life that couldn’t even live in the presence of oxygen- a deadly waste product produced by a mutant which wiped the majority of life off the globe quite some time ago.

  51. It is the perception of our judgments of our thoughts that distinguish true from false and the difference between right and wrong.

    If someone will not question another’s thoughts they are indeed incapable of distinguishing between right and wrong.

  52. Huddled next to the fading embers of dying hope in the broken wreckage of dreams, many Americans are completely ignorant of their fall from greatness, even as a storm gathers which will drown them in the graves they have already dug- pits without purpose they would describe as “my life” if asked. Of course…. while you could quietly die as planned, you could also seek the authors of your sorrow- and educate them. Such lessons can only be taught once- but that generally leaves the world a better place.

  53. Evidence that the USA is dumbing down? McGuinty is lecturing at Harvard

  54. The author basically brushes off those who disagree with him as being stupid and uneducated. However, he then points out that the most educated are also the most likely to be skeptic of science.

    As an auditor, this is where the warning bells go off in my head. The ones who have the most education are also the most likely to be skeptical of it… that would be like saying, in the business world, that the ones who are most skeptical of the financial statements are the accountants. That’s pretty damning, actually. This wouldn’t lead me to believe that the accountants are stupid, it would lead me to believe that there must be something wrong with the books. I would have to do additional research to understand why.

    So, then I would start asking questions. Why are people skeptical of evolution? The Bible, okay, but not everyone who is skeptical is a Christian. Ad hominin attacks do nothing to further your cause. What are the best arguments against evolution and how are they being addressed? If the answer is “There are none” then it is you who have had the wool pulled over your eyes because every single scientific theory has problems that have to be addressed. If you don’t know them, then you obviously don’t know your science.

    Why are people against global warming? Maybe the GOP just decided that a grand idea was to randomly oppose an idea put out by some scientist for fun, or maybe there are facts on both side. There are scientist on both side. This is where I would need to do a lot more research to decide what side I’m on. It would include reading relevant research and looking at the methodologies they use to conduct their research and a lot more stuff I don’t have time for right now. So let’s move one.

    Why are people against vaccinating their children? Marketing. Pure and simple. They don’t trust their doctors (which makes a lot of sense, given a simple appendectomy can cost upwards of 33k) and celebrities are awesome. For instance, what makes Labron James an expert on what drink I should order? (He endorses Sprite) Also, I should drink Budweiser because of big horses and puppies. WTF? Okay, will do. People pay big money to have celebrities say stuff. Knowing that, and not really seeing any good arguments on the other side, I’m pretty confident in concluding that vaccines are probably safe for most people. OTOH, this hurts the global warming debate because, last time I checked, Al Gore is not a Climatologist.

    And on and on I could go. Not “These people are stupid because they disagree with me” but asking myself why they disagree. Could there be problems in the way we do science that leads the most educated people to be skeptical of the results? What can we do to improve on this? I don’t believe in blind faith, but I don’t believe in blind science either.

  55. This article amuses me because it makes light of the American public’s bias against established science, such as anthropogenic global warming.

    But at the same time, Maclean’s has published articles that shared the same bias against AGW, including these four pieces by Mark Steyn

    Granted, all of those pieces are from a few years ago. But this current article would label them as being anti-science and anti-intellectual. Why was Maclean’s interested in promoting such comments then?

  56. its a sad time to be american :(

  57. I find it interesting that as you use statistics to argue Americans are less accepting of science and are idiots, you slip into politics to ignore statistics to push a political objective. You cite laws allowing individuals to be armed in previously gun-free zones as evidence of American idiocy, while ignoring the fact that all mass shootings are in gun-free zones. You argue in favor of gun control laws, when many of the shootings were by those who were already breaking existing gun control laws. Then you cite the IPCC as if it’s a scientific organization that’s infallible when it’s a political organization pushing a political position. When there has been no effective warming in 15 years, evidence of falsified data, then the question is not whether man has an affect on climate, but the extent of the affect and whether the cost of the “solution” is worth the benefit. In every project that deals with massive governmental expansion, there are unintended consequences, like the poor and elderly that will freeze to death when they can no longer afford heat. Finally, “voting against their interests,” politicians are not monolithic, and who are you or anyone else to determine whether someone is voting against their best interest, like is it against a welder’s best interest to vote for Obama because of his support for unions knowing he will not get a job working on the Keystone XL pipeline? There are interests more important than economics, like individual liberties.

  58. Where’s this million different ways evolution is transition fossils or no explanation how life started…never done in a lab nether

  59. A little rambling.
    Why introduce gun control issues?
    Stay on topic and don’t wander.
    It took, what, a half century to educate the electorate that smoking causes lung cancer and a remarkably short period of time after that to ban smoking in public places at least in those states without tobacco agriculture.
    By the time Venice sinks, Miami closes Miami Beach and Key West is underwater, the electorate will begin to move on climate change and people will begin to construct underground homes in the tornado prone mid-west.
    Within 10 years, all-electric cars will outnumber gas powered passenger cars and near ambient temperature super conductivity will be the norm. Science will win when money is made with science.

  60. Wow….I’m amazed at how ADD this Liberal piece is. If one decided to tackle the hard hitting threat to their religious independence in the form of written word, it seems that they would focus a LITTLE. This article was all over the place. It was more like a rant about why Jonah should avoid Nineveh. May the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the Creator of the Universe, the Father, Son and Spirit, find your sole and beg you to fight for his purpose as hard as you are running from FAITH.

  61. The whole premise of this article is a joke. Being religious doesn’t mean you’re ‘anti-science’ , that’s just the latest from the failed atheist narrative. The author incorrectly implies that belief in Creationism is a recent phenomena to the U.S.. It is not, we’ve believed in Creationism longer than we’ve believed in Victorian Era-style Evolution (Fun Fact: Darwin was a FAILED Theology student, and was embarrassed of it). When a greater proportion of our nation followed the Judeo-Christian God, we were Number #1 in all academic fields worldwide. Our decline coincides with a belief in Evolution and other pseudoscience New Age ****. God forgets those who forget him, and BTW, NOWHERE in the Bible does it say the world is only 6,000 years old.

    On a separate note, the ONLY academic light during the Dark Ages was Christianity. Our monasteries kept the knowledge from the Roman years alive and well. The Dark Ages were only dark because of all the atheistic barbarians and tree-worshipping sorts who were running around killing everything that moved. The Renaissance never would of happened if it wasn’t for the church rescuing knowledge from the heathens!

    • Ooh Bill that is terrible. You must have learned your history from gum wrappers or comic books!

      • Thanks for the laugh Emily, now prove your claims. Actually, I’m a professor who’s armed with a PhD, and teaches World History. Every fact I stated in my above post is verifiable, while everything you have posted is merely an uneducated opinion based-off your own personal bias against those with religious beliefs, specifically Christians. Nice try though, I’ll give you an ‘A’ for that.

        • No you’re not, Bill.

          Bible college I assume.

          Certainly nothing in reality.

          • Kinda like your degrees then,,,

  62. Most perplexing, however, is where the stupid is flowing from. As conservative pundit David Frum recently noted, where it was once the least informed who were most vulnerable to inaccuracies, it now seems to be the exact opposite. “More sophisticated news consumers turn out to use this sophistication to do a better job of filtering out what they don’t want to hear,” he blogged.

    This the best insight in the whole article.

  63. R O B
    F O R D

  64. Typical Maclean’s: painting the US with a broad brush of mass generalisations. Most of the examples are all in the southern US (Georgia, South Carolina, Florida), where you find a clear anti-intellectual streak than you would in Massachussets or Oregon. What if we painted Canadian public opinion based on Albertans or Maritimers?
    We love to bash the US, without looking at ourselves in the mirror. Mr. Harper is no friend of science either and we have plenty of anti-vaccinators; climate-change deniers and religious nut jobs to match our population…

  65. Some of these trends are indeed disturbing. Some aren’t. For example, “Casual, colloquial language also conveys an implicit denial of the seriousness of whatever issue is being debated.” That’s bunk — just ask Mark Twain. Same goes for grousing about the length of tweets. Yes, 140 characters ain’t much, but plenty of people are stupid in 140,000 characters. Ever read Dianetics? Conversely, brevity is the soul of wit, is it not? What bugs me about articles like this is the willy nilly mixture of real concerns with hobby horses that seem to be serving no purpose other than to pad out the word count.

  66. It’s a good thing that Canadians enjoy such an intellectually-superior society, for a lovely perch atop the world to critique the Americans.

    Its mass media, especially its best-selling world-class intellectual journals like the Toronto Star and Toronto Sun, are bastions of intellectual progress and a leading light for the entire world to emulate.

    Its political establishment, with data-driven intellectuals like Pauline Marois, Carolyn Parrish, and Rob Ford stand like pillars of integrity and leadership amongst a world hungering for leadership and insight.

    Canada’s business community and technology community — driven as it is by superior science and technology — is completely dominating global commerce. BlackBerry’s soaring fortunes, at the expense of Apple and Google, underpin Canada’s sheer intellectual superiority and data-driven intellectual approach to global markets.

    (Actually, to be serious, Canadian nationalism needs to graduate from the smug platitudes in this article. For every stupid American who criticizes global warming or wants to ban a book, there’s a Canadian equivalent. The separatist movement in Quebec is a core part of the country’s politics and not exactly driven by intellectual excellence. And, of course, those “dumb, anti-intellectual Americans” have been cleaning the clocks of Canada’s global technology companies the past four years — to the point where the Canadian tech sector is a mix of outposts for American companies and rapidly-shrinking major players.)

  67. Well this was just a pleasant little reminder that I hate extremism in pretty much all its forms. But yea, religious people are dumb, anyone who carries, I mean totes, a gun is stupid and liberals and Obama are the answer to all our stupid. I guess. Stop telling people to vote. People are too stupid to vote. Tell people to be informed and then they will understand shit and want to vote. Just trying to get people to the polls is like a contest to see who can herd the most sheep. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is what really grinds my gears.

    • I sincerely hope that you are being facetious in stating that anyone who carries or “totes” a gun is stupid and that Obama and liberals are an answer to all of our stupid. If not, you are clearly evidence to the contrary of your stated opinion. I hope I’m misreading your statement, especially if you believe that only liberals are smart enough to vote.

      • If conservatives were smart enough to vote, they wouldn’t vote against their own interests by voting republican.

  68. “The American public’s bias against established science doesn’t stop where the Bible leaves off, however. The same poll found that just 53 per cent of respondents were “extremely” or “very confident” that childhood vaccines are safe and effective. (Worldwide, the measles killed 120,000 people in 2012. In the United States, where a vaccine has been available since 1963, the last recorded measles death was in 2003.) ”
    Amazingly enough immunologists admit that measles vaccines are only about 85-90 percent effective and that there are genetic differences in people which make them more or less effective for certain groups of people. Add to this the fact that the flu vaccine you may take every flu season is based upon a guess (with some scientific basis, but not an infallible guess) on which strain of flu will be predominant during that season. Those who blindly believe that science is settled in nearly every field besides the initial beginnings of the universe, are fooling themselves and lying to the public. Another example of “settled science” being not so settled is that the original researchers who described a link between gluten and gastrointestinal distress in patient without celiac disease, have since come to the conclusion based upon further testing that there is no such link. I love science. I do believe that science and the scientific method are the means through which we as a people will eventually find the answers to most of mankind’s problems. But to suggest that it is currently complete, infallible, and irrefutable is pure madness.

  69. As a professor of biblical studies, I can confidently vouch for the complete lax, even absence, of biblical education in this country—that is studying these ancient documents, and even appreciating them, for what they are—ancient texts. The said truth is that there is no biblical education in this country—overstated granted—but mostly indoctrination. Even having at the public level administrators considering that an ancient piece of literature which expresses the views and beliefs of ancient peoples and how they perceived their world be entered into scientific textbooks as competing theories—momentarily ignoring that this is just an inaccurate view of the Bible, it is, in any other discipline or field, malpractice! And we as a country ought to be fighting this.

    I don’t have a beef to pick with faith, but when someone attempts to teach belief, or incorrectly teach an ancient text which represents the beliefs of an ancient people while knowing nothing about the text and the culture that produced it—-this is malpractice plain and simple.

    Also, we have become a nation where language now substitutes for thinking. No more thinking about the issues that intellectuals such as Fitzgerald, Miller, Hemingway, Joyce, etc. wrote about and entering into a conversation about real human concerns—-no, now we merely utter a word that substitutes for the whole decades lonf, sometimes centuries of intellectual examination and dialogue.

    As a biblical scholar in today’s world, having gone through schooling for 10 years, painstakingly studied the languages and cultures, etc… I am no longer the expert in my field. Rather it is the social outspoken media mogul who now is the expert. Anything drivel that’s media, socially, supported, he who can outburst the next fella and scream the loudest across the most social networks is now the new expert.

    To use a biblical metaphor: It’s a blasphemous shame that God has created man in his image; yet man has squandered these gifts and at every turn of the page, more recently, he denies his divine;y-given intellect and returns back to being a mere non-thinking ape. God creates man, but man refuses to be men.

  70. “America dumbs down”- to the point that we’d rather join our comfortable little gangs and fight about why America has dumbed down than offer or act on solutions. Nope it’s too easy to believe that if everyone else just agreed with my clique then America would smarten up. Down and down and down we go. But at least I’m right.

  71. “Still, many Americans seem less concerned with the massive violations of their privacy in the name of the War on Terror, than imposing Taliban-like standards on the lives of others”. While I agree with this statement in general, it is odd to see it following those that describe opposition to gun control or climate change theory as examples of stupidity. After all, gun control efforts are a perfect example of one group imposing their beliefs on those who disagree, despite factual evidence & research that implies their beliefs are mistaken (gun violence is typically higher in areas with strict gun laws). As for the climate change debate, it is becoming increasingly evident that the only reason the “majority” of scientists agree with the UN approved theory is because most dissenting scientists were “encouraged” to remain silent, generally by losing their jobs. Talk about “Taliban-style”….

    Despite that rather jarring discrepancy, the rest of this article is spot on. A few minutes of social media is usually enough to demonstrate that intelligent debate is nearly impossible. Most participants are only interested in “preaching to the choir”. People actively avoid any information that does not correspond with their own views and ignore conflicting data when confronted with it. Those on both sides of the political spectrum react by essentially plugging their ears and sticking out their tongues the moment someone presents data that can’t be easily refuted. The question is, what can be done about it?

  72. This article, while good, fails to acknowledge the drivers behind the current state of affairs, namely, the pervasive dumbing down of America for the purpose of manufacturing consent of the masses for the benefit of the plutocrats that i fluency the govenrment. The author had the opportunity to do so at the end of the article, but sadly failed to do so. In fact, the reason why people now seek information from sources other than mainstream ones is because they understand there is far too much corruption and they have no real say. It is not simply a crisis of intelligence, it is a crises of trust. Hence you have highly educated people who doubts absolutely everything that the government has to say and then go somewhere in the Internet in an attempt to find the truth. This whole mess was caused by the undue influence of the plutocrats and their collusion with their puppets in Congress.

  73. Not all Americans are like this. I will say that we are not encouraged to use critical thinking in many situations. We are encouraged to not make waves, to not discriminate even unto crippling measures. It’s idiotic, how there have been broadcasted cases where competition in schools is becoming frowned upon because it might make someone feel badly about themselves.

    It’s almost like a caste system is forming and we don’t have the power or will to stop it.

    • Furthermore, you can also be intelligent, yet misguided. You can be intelligent, and feel powerless. I have read some of the comments, and my thoughts are that if you really want things to change in America, come be an American. Live our lives, become a leader.

      If not, then your criticism, in my opinion, is less a way to help (constructive) but more a way to make yourself seem superior.

  74. I think the author of this article demonstrates anti-intellectual thinking. America is a nation of 300,000,000+ people, with various different backgrouds and cultures. Compare them to any other monolithic European or Asian country there will be a skewer wildly.

    A recent breakdown of math and reading scores in the U.S. based on socio-economic status, and compare each group to countries of similar socio-economic status, you will find the U.S. comes out on top in many if not all comparisons.

    Climate change and vaccine Denialism may seem like examples of anti-science on the outside, but if you engage with these individuals they will appeal to reason science and logic. They believe that their beliefs correspond with the accurate science. The problem with these issues is that they have been imbued with political and ideological significance. If you talk to a climate change denialist they will tell you that climate change is a conspiracy created by the government to take control over our lives. If you as a vaccine denialist they will tell you that vaccines are a conspiracy created by greedy corporations to make money.

    Yale Law professor Dan Kahan calls this “Cultural Cognition of the Scientific Concenssus”. In short we filter our view of the scientific concensus through our preffered cultural world view. If your particular cultural group does not like government intrusion into the lives of private individuals, a scientific finding like climate change, where the resolution would imply government intrusion into the lives of private individuals, you would be less likely to precieve that finding as representing the scientific concensus. If your worldview opposes private corporations profiting from an activity that might be harmful to the public, you would be less likely to believe that the scientific concensus supports a finding that involves corporations profiting off an activity that you precieve as being harmful to the public. This would include vaccines, genetically modified food, and nuclear power, all of which are supported by the scientific community but find opposition by populist political movements all over the globe, not just in the U.S.

    Gun laws are a particularly salient example of this topic. The author of this article states that the failure of America to respond to recent mass shootings with any wide spread gun control legislation as a failure of logic. Though this may only be evidence of the authors own cultural bias. The very image that the author chose to head this article pretty much demonstrates that he finds the gun culture to be a prime example of “American Unreason”. Though do gun control legislation really correlate with a lessening of gun violence, or of violent crime in general? A gun control advocate may point to European countries which impose stringent gun control laws and have very little gun violence. But then you’d have to explain the South American and Latin American countries which impose equally as stringent gun control laws and are rampant with violent crime. If there is any representative of the scientific concensus it is the National Academy of Sciences, and they have found any evaluation of the effectiveness of gun legislation to be inconclusive. There are too many variables to account for.

    If I may propose my personal theory that gun violence and violent crime in general is not an effect of lack of adequate legislation but, like education is attached to more complicated socio-economic factors. Yes America is rich like many industrialized European countries, but has pockets of densely packed impoverished communities. In these communities people have a greater insentive to use violence to gain or protect material property. Also as a result of this poverty these communities are less able to implement adequate law-enforcement measures which dis-incentivize crime in general. The “Broken Windows” theory of law enforcement states that a disorderly society which disrespects laws regarding orderliness and small infractions to the law, is a society which will tolerate larger infractions. The theory has been sneared at by University intellectuals but has been borne out by replicable double-blind experiment.

  75. So the USA starts admitting hundreds of thousands of undereducated immigrants year after year beginning in the 1970s, while simultaneously subsidizing out of wedlock births and child care for the poorest segment of the population, and lo and behold the population has become progressively more ignorant and illiterate. Why is anyone surprised by this result?

  76. “Has the most powerful nation on Earth lost its mind?”
    Quite simply, yes

  77. It is amusing that in an article about ignorance a number of opinions are presented as facts, several generalizations about the viewpoints of others are made without any sort of attempt to place them in context, and a statement seeming to suggest that our government was set up to allow the majority to rule when it was set up explicitly to keep this from happening. Someone call Alanis.

  78. This had the potential to be one of the more important articles of 2014, I would wager, had Mr. Gatehouse not tried to lump together and forge dubious correlations between so many diverse issues, and had he made more than token efforts to balance the transparent ideological slant (I do appreciate them, but I’m familiar with the device). I suppose we all look the same from a certain perspective. ;)

    For example: As a classical music lover, I have long bristled at the word ‘elitist.’ I stay as far away as possible from the Jenny McCarthy poison. However, I think there’s a legitimate debate going on about what constitutes the standard for ‘literature’ in schools versus what is mediocre fiction spiced with gratuitous obscenity. In fairness to TATDPTI, I’d have to evaluate it myself, but the reports I’m getting seem to indicate that it will probably not endure. I am surprised that in a piece concerning populist anti-intellectualism, this trend isn’t counted as a strike against us, because the excuse always seems to be that “we have to give [students] material that they can relate to in their real lives”…because their imaginations just aren’t good enough, or something. And really, I am shocked – shocked! – that a 17-year-old kid wants to read graphic depictions of sex and drug use. Perhaps we all ought to re-read Lord of the Flies (does that get assigned anymore?).

    A minor point: this may be the first time I’ve seen that hateful cliché “voting against one’s own interests” in its proper context. I’d still suggest that writers avoid it, because it trickles down into common use by people who typically have no idea what the subject’s interests really are, but are presumptuous enough to think they do. (Also, we *do* have more than the two dominant political parties; that ought to be qualified.)

    Finally, let’s talk about the American left’s stubborn refusal to accept what ought to be very uncontroversial biological facts about when human life begins, without the hemming and hawing and waxing philosophical. That would have taken some actual courage.

    On the whole, a promising topic turned into a gross oversimplification.

  79. “Established science”? There is no such thing.

    Liberals do this Monday morning dance of looking down on their fellow citizens. This makes them feel better, apparently. If only this country were populated by people who believe in the Big Bang Theory and evolution and voted for socialists, then all would be great? Well, the sad reality is that it makes absolutely no difference to the survival and continued progress of society what politicians or people believe about the origins of the universe or life. These things will not come up in political debate when the bill for the gargantuan welfare/warfare state comes due. There is a gulf between what people consume and produce in the developed world. That is the essential social problem of our times.

  80. Good article, but misses a few important points in its rush to judgement.

    First, how much of this anti-elitism is a product of the failures of science – and expert knowledge – to create the better world it so often promised? Scientists – and other experts – who once predicted a future of leisure, mastery of the environment, and boundless progress now warn of our imminent demise. For the average American, distrust of science may not be quite as irrational as it first appears.

    Second, the paragraph on the decline of traditional news media is really weak. I have never read a copy of the Washington Post; I haven’t watched cable news since Peter Jennings left ABC. I do, however, routinely visit websites like ScienceDaily; and I visit niche websites written by actual scholars, like Does that make me less informed? And would it discredit my other online activities if I watched some cat gifs along the way? The internet has changed where we access our information and how we understand it, but that doesn’t (necessarily) mean we’re all dumber.

    Finally, elite populism, mixed with popular irrationality, has long been characteristic not only of American democracy but most political systems that depend to a degree on mass appeal. The Athenians foolishly invaded Syracuse through the misinformed charisma of Alcibiades; the Dutch killed and cannibalized their brightest leaders in 1672; the Germans willingly dismantled their democracy by voting in the Nazis. For Canadians, the rise of the Fords should be enough to tell us that populism, mingled with ignorance, is not a uniquely American plague.

    Ultimately, it’s easy to find problems and shake our heads. But many articles like this could use a bit more nuance, and far more suggestions for change. Without presenting solutions, these articles can make us feel superior – perhaps elite? – but they don’t help us fix anything.

  81. Such articles always remind me of Isaac Asimov’s words.

    “Anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that ‘my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.’”

  82. Well, you hooked me into thinking YOU weren’t ignorant with your spot-on criticism of evolution deniers then you shoot it down with YOUR ignorant anti-gun sentiments. Perhaps you should practice what you preach and set aside erroneous ideals based on feelings and look at the hard stats that gun control only takes guns from law-abiding people and the recent study by Harvard (a lib university) that states there is NO evidence that more guns equal more crime and fatalities. I’m going to start my own hashtag campaign: #bringbackourjournalists

  83. “But it does offer compelling evidence that the survival of the fittest remains an unshakable truth even in American life. A sad sort of proof of evolution.”
    The structure of American politics has absolutely nothing to do with the theory of evolution. Who’s being dumb now?

  84. Your arguments are invalid, you are a Canadian.

  85. I love how the author likes to assume that ANY news source in the world has something better to offer than Buzzfeed. The Washington Post? Really? If you think any paper in the states is credible you’re just as ignorant as the people you’re writing about. I’d also like to postulate that most of our problems come from the fact that the true majority of people in our country don’t care about what the government does, aren’t informed about it, and do not vote. You’re making vast generalizations about millions of people. Not so many humans are as cookie cutter as bleeding heart liberals, and self righteous neocons like to make them out to be. I’m not afraid of ignorance, but I am afraid of very ignorant people preaching their ignorance on a large scale and thats exactly what you’re doing.

  86. your comments about science and the fact that it is the most educated among the churchgoers who express doubts about science, are probably less about the question of evolution as much as it is the rampant misuse of science to sell pills in medicine that have been found untrustworthy over time and the misuse of science to tell us that things like pesticides and other chemicals are safe and the perennial co-option of science to develop weapons mass destruction or that is so available for sale and false testimony to those who can pay for a contrary opinion… Science in itself is based on hypothesis and speculation that is often too quickly assumed to be fact in order to turn profits and we the people too often it’s victims… the more educated we are the more we are able to see the connection…

    It also reflects a rejection of the idea that there is a technological or scientific fix for all of our miscreations… Just don’t want to leave the impression that some of educated religious are thinking the world was created in 4,000 BC… we may believe that it is a created world but we may also have a diversity of opinions re: the means of creation, the origins of species and the time table for creation…

  87. Friends: One observation…

    Very little of this article has to do with anti-intellectualism, beyond the standards set by a very specific type of intellectual. Hear me out.

    The discussion on evolution reduces to two icons: a saucy senator against a bill and a public desire that students “learn both the case for, and against, natural selection.” A complaint against contemporary politicians? Amen! A complaint about… critical thinking? Wait a minute, folks! If you want to roast creationism, the great evil you decry needs to be more than skepticism appropriate to academic inquiry, because whatever the motivations, at the end of the day, this is what apparently prevailed in the committee meeting!

    Or is it the religious motivations Gatehouse resents? Perhaps the anti-intellectuals he condemns resent the ir-religious motivations they sense being imposed upon their children. Esteemed Colleagues (sorry, can’t call you folks), I’m not a creationist! I just don’t think there’s anything wrong with people’s worldviews directing their academic interests, so long as they keep up a satisfying discussion by the end of the day! Perhaps they don’t. Perhaps. Too bad this isn’t up for discussion in Gatehouse’s plea for academic charity.

    The remainder of the article is a masterpiece of presumption, a fast paced litany of opportunities for Gatehouse’s audience to cheer him on.

    People ignorantly doubt global warming? Really?!?!? I’ve never seen //anyone// ignorantly //assume// global warming here in liberal Minnesota, have I? Shame on the ignorant conservatives!

    People are allowed to carry guns in government buildings, churches and bars! GHASP!!! Even though it isn’t mentioned, I know the people concerned here have to apply for a rigorous permit, submit to immediate inspection by police, and maintain a felony- (and, frankly, misdemeanor-) free record (and an immaculate blood-alcohol level when carrying), but still, what an appalling thought! We don’t even let our police have guns, do we? Why on earth would we let citizens carry them, especially when they submit themselves to regular examination and training overseen by the local sheriff? This isn’t to mention the fact that no one needs an evil “assault weapon” when a wooden Ruger Ranch Rifle is practically the same gun! Let’s ban black finishes, pistol grips, and the always-unused bayonet lugs: FOR THE CHILDREN!!!

    My, those gun nuts are really anti-intellectual.

    Yes, Friend, the anti-intellectualism is unending in America. How dare conservatives express their views that healthcare doesn’t belong on their tax bill! Some things aren’t even worthy of discussion. How dare parents object to objectionable reading material! We know, now, that endless hours spent reading Homer and Virgil in the original languages did nothing for the mind! We need more sex and drugs in the schools, preferably in an entertaining media format: this is the path to greatness!

    And the state of politics is where things truly go sour. Can you believe that our presidential candidates refer to their future subjects as “folks”? How can they associate themselves with country people? Country people are stupid, ignorant boors, the whole lot of them! I could faint with rage right now; allow me to get an espresso at my local, sophisticated urban café before I continue.

    Ah, much better. But how could I go on? The truths he recounts–the correlation between conservatism and ignorance, the failure of people to vote for the party with their interests in mind (and we know which one that is, unless Gatehouse thinks the likes of Bloomberg should be voting red…), the abuse of all this technical “progress” we’ve been rightly glorifying all these years (wait, a minute… I smell cultural conservatism here)–a man can hardly stand it. It is so truly unfortunate that the mindless peons of this world can’t simply accept the ineffable wisdom of their benevolent superiors.

    After all, friend, this whole article is really about definitions, isn’t it. Intellectual is “us”, anti-intellectual is “them”. Ergo, to free one’s self from the constraints of ignorance, “they” simply need to hop off their bandwagon and onto ours. Hey, I just wrote a disjunctive syllogism!

    Now that’s intellectual.

    Most cordially yours,

    A debate coach, grad student, and “anti-intellectual” American, at least by some people’s standards.

    • To be fair, I don’t deny the thesis that the life of the modern mind, America’s in particular, is going down hill. I just believe that such a discussion can’t begin with the wrong concerns, criteria, and anti-intellectual populism it will decry.

  88. Typical Canadian view of the US. Fortunately, and Canadians should know better, the US isn’t a hypothetical unified locale with homogenous demographics and a single culture. Over 300 million people spread out over a large landmass to a point where groups of Americans don’t identify with each other as a unified people. There are huge variations in education levels from regaion to region. Many of the beliefs and educational shortcomings pointed out through this article are highly concentrated in the Southern U.S., yet Silicon Valley (thousands of miles away) has more brains concentrated in small area than anywhere else on the planet (except for perhaps Boston with its collection of Universities). Sensationalised journalism like this has created a culture in Canada in which we talk down to “Americans” without recognizing that we only look like ignorant idiots ourselves in their eyes, because what we’ve come to know about the U.S never applied to that person or the place from which they came. There are more than double the number of people in New England and California than all of Canada and those people are kicking our butts when it comes to innovation and thought leadership (adios BlackBerry, hello IPhone and Android). Yet we pretend they are all southern gun crazy, religious idiots to make ourselves feel better about our own mediocrity.

  89. You’d think the percentage of avid readers would have gone up with America, like Canada, filling up with cerebral minorities and thus lowering the proportion of white rednecks. Go figure! How could it possibly be worse now than it was in 1978 with such a massive demographic improvement? Does Obama know? He is after all among the most cerebral and intelligent presidents of all time as witnessed by his numerous accomplishments before taking office such as….uh, well, being a community organizer…you should see the community that he used to organize. It’s heaven on earth. I can’t believe those dummies who oppose his Obamacare plan just because the costs will massively increase the already unpayable national debt and it has already decreased employment in the important medical sector by strangling much economic activity in that sector. This is on top of the fact that it has pushed many firms to switch workers from full-time to part-time, though the CEOs of these firms are best off denying that their decisions have anything to do with Obamacare. Maybe the cerebral illegal aliens will turn things around when they start voting. What could be smarter than rolling out the red carpet for aggressive foreigners who don’t respect your nation’s borders?
    It’s too bad that so many Americans reject evolution but if Europe is anything to go by, millions of people who believe in Socialism will actually sink a country much faster than millions of people who reject evolution. Of course, the highly intelligent author of the this article likely already knows that.

  90. You know what I think is dumb? Judging the intelligence of an entire nation as dismissible based on three pieces of legislation that were newsworthy precisely because of the widespread outrage they caused. Defining elitism as equivalent to meritocracy or general high standards, when it’s historical and vernacular meaning is rather equivalent to classicism and generally acknowledging value only in those points of view that support your own – and then mourning the conscientious backlash against that mentality. Decrying the need for science while defining “scientist” as a homogenous separate class wielding unobserved methodologies that are beyond the power of ordinary people to follow, let alone judge. Openly bemoaning the spread of democracy as an invitation to mediocrity, while ignoring a long-celebrated culture of innovation that owes its vigor to the empowerment of the commoner. Concluding that rich people are rich because poor people are stupid – that those with the most power in society are self-evidently the most deserving of power. What friggen century spawned Jonathan Gatehouse? And what is this piece designed to do, except that which he claims all stupid Americans do – use the prodigious platforms of free speech to issue a rallying cry for entrenched generality, leaving the possibility of education, persuasion, or honest dialogue all but unapproached.

  91. So, I won’t address the entire article, but in terms of people being “stupid” for believing or not believing in certain scientific principles such as evolution, I think that to discredit someone’s intelligence based on their acceptance of an idea has little basis. It is the constant arrogance of human discovery to believe that our ideas are more true or correct because they are more current, or more meaningful to the present. Recall that Sir Issac Newton was, at the time of his life, was criticized by the powers of the day for his discoveries, now considered to be some of the greatest ever made. Also, Aristotle, considered by some to be the first great scientist, held beliefs which we now consider to be incorrect. Truth and “correctness” are beliefs held by people, not universally observable phenomena. Science itself is not a measure of object truths, so much as it is a system of discovery created by people to classify those things we observe in the world around us. People can create holes and problems in every theory, as well as create evidence and logic in them (especially theories like evolution and the big bang, which deal with events that no person has nor possibly could observe). Intelligence is not measured by belief in ideas, it is measured in the capacity to understand those ideas, in order to better understand the nature of our world. So, I suppose what I’m saying is, in my opinion, I don’t think that there is much merit to the claim of calling someone stupid because they don’t subscribe to a certain system of beliefs. It would make more sense to say that, “People who cannot grasp the fundamental principals of evolution lack intelligence”. I personally think that it is highly unlikely that humanity will discover the actual “truth” of nature, but rather we will continue on the constantly changing journey of discovery. It is the folly of every generation (mine included) to say, “We are generation B, and we reject the stagnant and ancient beliefs of generation A! Our new knowledge is the truth. Oh, generation C’s new truth is preposterous! Why don’t they understand the value of our old ways?” Perhaps I digressed a tad there… Anyways, I now give this up to you, oh Internet. Please use personal attacks and vaguely cited sources to disprove my personal opinions.

  92. A very biased article there. But you fail to mention a few things, namely our education system has failed us. It no long places a premium on debate, learning of hard sciences, hard work or even civic responsibility.

    While I respect a math degree, one in gender studies is laughable. Especially when the same person with zero experience in anything except going to school is trying to tell me how to run my business.

    Common core is a freaking joke.

    When the majority of educators come from one political party unable to rationally debate a subject (from history to climate change) without resorting to smearing their opponents reputation. Well its hard to take anything they say seriously.

    The last few years we sent all these smart, educated people to Washington DC from both parties. Harvard, Yale, Princeton graduates with advanced degrees and they have destroyed our economy, instituted crony capitalism and looked down their collective nose at the rest of the country.

    Frankly as an English friend of mine would say, “what a bunch of bloody twits”. Thats the downfall of the American intellectual!

  93. Yo! I gotcher anti-intellectualism right here.

    We’re so anti-intellectual, we not only wrote the book on it, we gave that book the Pulitzer Prize in 1963.

    Before you go to the trouble to gin up an ostensibly new, but actually 51-year-old, social trend, you might consider searching for relevant information online.

    Soon, I expect, you’ll learn to call that “googling.”

    Or, you could attend one of our world-beating institutions of higher education and actually study the topic:

    “”Anti-intellectualism in American Life’ is a book by Richard Hofstadter published in 1963 that won the 1964 Pulitzer Prize for General Non-Fiction.

    “In this book, Hofstadter set out to trace the social movements that altered the role of intellect in American society. In so doing, he explored questions regarding the purpose of education and whether the democratization of education altered that purpose and reshaped its form. In considering the historic tension between access to education and excellence in education, Hofstadter argued that both anti-intellectualism and utilitarianism were consequences, in part, of the democratization of knowledge.

    “Moreover, he saw these themes as historically embedded in America’s national fabric, an outcome of its colonial European and evangelical Protestant heritage. Anti-intellectualism and utilitarianism were functions of American cultural heritage, not necessarily of democracy.” (Precis of the book from

    — America: because the rest of the world needs a country to hate

    • 200 comments later, and not one person has pointed out that this backwoods attitude needs to change. And fast.

      Most comments simply pretended it wasn’t happening….and often threw in a Chamber of Commerce style booster. Propaganda.

      However, the US is suffering a brain-drain….and the Great Stagnation is getting worse all the time.

      Time to stop bragging and face reality.

      • Where are the brainy Americans moving to? Are they moving to Europe in order to look for work in areas where there is 20-25% unemployment? Are they moving to Mexico? Mother Russia, maybe, in order to hang with Edward Snowden? Are there colonies of brainy Americans setting up in the parks of Canada? If so, should we bring them fish to eat? Could Canadian students hire these smart American refugees to their homework for them on the cheap?

  94. We need to take up a collection that will allow that young mind to move out of the South while he can still think

    • Yes, they could move to Detroit and live the good life!

  95. I am well acquainted with the dumbing-down of our culture. But concerning the idea of “gun-control”, which in fact is just the restriction of the availability of weapons to honest citizens who by definition choose to follow such laws, in order to stop dishonest people from illegally using guns to fulfill their desires to (illegally) kill people in schools and other places, isn’t that also an example of dumbing-down in our society?

    • No, but dishonest rhetoric is.

  96. As an American who has lived in the UK for nearly the last decade, I had to endure more than my share of derision of the last twenty years as I have pursued my degrees in the humanities (the one exception is my law degere). This article simply confirms all of my worst fears I’ve had for over 25 years; the US, as a whole, is getting stupider by the nanosecond. Even my UK friends without university educations all have praised me for my accomplishments, yet if I were tell the average American I have a doctorate, he or she would trerat me as if I were a freak of nature. It is one of many reasons I will continue to live in UK or Europe for the foreseeable future, if not, for the remainder of my life.

  97. To be fair, the guns pictured at the top of this article are over the top rad.

  98. What this article is saying is that if you don’t believe in something you’ve never seen before (evolution), you’re stupid. Name one practical thing the theory of evolution has done for us… don’t worry, I’ll wait. Thats right, it hasn’t provided us with anything; no technology, medicine or anything else that requires intelligence. What it has done for us is attempt to answer the same questions all religions do (evolution is a religion, even if you can’t accept that fact): Who am I? A random mess of particles. Where did I come from? You came from nothing. Why am I here? To die so the next generation can become better. Where am I going? You’re going into a hole in the ground. Every argument for evolution can refuted scientifically and biblically. The only problem is, you don’t want answers to the real questions, you want whatever takes God out of the equation. SMASH GLASS HOUSES.

    • I personally believe in evolution and I find it to be a fascinating topic but having other people not believe in evolution does not affect my life very much. Having people around who believe in Socialism will have a huge impact on everyone’s life, when these people vote in job destroying politicians.

    • I don’t accept evolution as a religion because it’s not one. It’s not even a philosophy. And since the understanding of evolution is a root in the science of Biology, I’m not really sure how you figure the theory of evolution has done nothing practical for us. It was nice of you to wait, though.

      • Its both a religion and a philosophy, and is unnecessary to the field of biology. Evolution doesn’t tell me where the human heart is, it only attempts to tell me where it came from, which is nothing practical. Try again.

  99. Was Europe said to be “dumbing down” over the many decades that Europeans consistently voted for more and more social programs that everyone told them were not sustainable. Were Europeans said to be “dumbing down” when they failed to make the necessary repairs to the welfare state that would keep it from collapsing? Was France, for example, said to be dumbing down when they voted in Socialist Francois Hollande to the presidency and he turned around in implemented all the high-tax strategies that have always driven capital and investment from any given jurisdiction?
    Getting back to the American example, I can’t help but think that the author wants to imagine a White Southerner as a representative of “dumbness” but never a Northern Democrat, black or white, who has voted their city into bankruptcy or at least long-term decline. Beyond the obvious example of Detroit, look at Buffalo, Baltimore, Cleveland, and coming soon New York City thanks to new mayor Bill DeBlasio. All cities that have been run by Democrats at least since WW ll, whose core industries have been ruined by Democrat-friendly unions and whose local economies have been kept from reorganizing by high-tax Democrat administrations. Do the residents of these cities get the “dumb” tag? If we agree that full employment is a good thing, the Southern Republican-voting states have had a much better track record at job creation over the past few decades than Northern Democrat-voting states. New York State has lost enough population to lose a congressional district (representing about 500 000 people) in the most recent election. Do you think that people are living the Northern cities that they grew up in for fun—or are they looking to move to jurisdictions where entrenched Democrat politicians aren’t busy killing off job prospects for everyone except themselves and their lawyer friends?

    • You’re projecting. And, in the UK at least, the NHS would have been fine if the Tories hadn’t mucked around with it.

  100. Let’s see almost 500 billionaires in America, most self-made and not inherited. Canada, just under 50. I guess that means Americans are smarter than Canadians/better with their money.

    • .000016% of Americans are billionaires vs. .00014% of Canadians. Guess so.

  101. Most perplexing, however, is the ability to cite, without irony, stupidity and lack of education while ending a sentance with a preposition.

    • Only slightly more ironic is misspelling “sentence” in the above comment.

    • That’s not actually grammatically incorrect. Do you walk around saying things like “for what is that?”

  102. You know, disparaging because they use the word “folks” (a thing that is pretty common among those to use BVE, I should add) is at least as bad as people who disparage people for being smart. To be sure, there is a definite strain of anti-intellectualism running through American culture, but there’s no justification to be bagging on people for their speech patterns. Saying folks and dropping your Gs does not a stupid person make, just like using expensive words doesn’t actually make you intelligent.

  103. Did anyone else notice that the author is a journalist in Canada who wrote a book about a hockey player? What authority does he bring to the table regarding intelligence in the U.S.? Besides covering a myriad of stories as a journalist, what makes him an authority on the issue? He chided the intelligence of Americans for believing a celebrity over scientists (regarding vaccinations). How is he any better than that celebrity? Anyone can find research to fit their opinion. Also, anyone can provide commentary on issues for which they are not an expert. The internet is a leveling platform where the freedom of speech provides a voice with a medium. I want to know where the citations are for his sources. Reputable articles provide the source of data so fact checking can occur. This is no more than a man’s opinion constructed from a few statistics he stitched together. He picked hot button issues (Affordable Care Act, evolution vs. creationism, stratification of wealth, etc) to bait everyone into argument and grab hits on this page. Looks like it worked with over 200 comments. He started debate, but he is not an authority qualified to provide intelligent commentary on “America dumbing down.” Proceed with your discussions, but take heed that this is a man’s opinion on a public platform. Not a sum of scientific research (only a few quick statistics were selected here). No disrespect to the author, he writes beautifully. However, I fail to see this anything more than an opinion since he has no validation to be a trusted authority in this area. He encourages us to trust the experts. Hopefully he understands that he is asking all of you to not trust him since he is not an expert (and he did not provide enough information to directly fact check the research of the experts he quoted).

  104. The lack of science education and refusal by many politicians to accept proven science is a problem, but the anti-gun rant in the middle of the article was completely out of place. Statistics show gun ownership has very little effect on the overall violent crime rate, murder rate, assault rate, etc. It affects how many of those crimes are committed with guns, but not how many crimes are committed. What does affect the violent crime rate is lead content in the soil, water, and air – something we fortunately learned from scientists, and since we removed lead from our gasoline a few decades ago and lead emissions have decreased, violent crime has been dropping. There’s no “new wave of gun violence”. Violent crime is down and has been decreasing for decades with essentially no relation whatsoever to gun laws because the culprit was lead pollution, not guns.

  105. Great points, if a bit hyperventilating. However, it entirely misses an enormous swamp of stupid, dominated largely by the political Left in the United States. I refer, of course, to the alternative health movement, in which vast numbers of people buy into the utterly idiotic idea that “…doctors don’t want you to know” and line up to buy expensive water as a cure for just about anything.

  106. Well, I guess this is what happens when you get rid of natural selection :/

  107. An important article, however the author seems to conflate “trust in science” and “trust in the media to accurately report scientific findings”. Many scientifically literate people realize that while science, as a process, is a reliable method for increasing our knowledge of the world, they are right to be skeptical about the often appalling science reporting in the media. Too often, journalists sensationalize scientific findings, making them sound more “sexy” and certain than they are. This contributes to the erroneous impression that “science is always changing its mind” — which may well help erode the public’s trust in science itself, thus increasing the anti-intellectual attitudes of the public.

  108. I so totally agree with your point . . . but you are like a walking advertisement for it.
    Your comments on gun control, school shootings and standardized testing are naive to the point of ridiculousness. Clearly you have no researched deeply into ANY of these issues, or you would understand the fallacies in this article.

  109. So when do these “patriots” realize that it’s against US Flag Code to paste little american flags all over everything?

  110. I was born in Savannah, Georgia in 1939, and lived in my mother’s hometown of Charleston, South Carolina during World War Two. We moved back to Savannah after the War. Attending a Public Elementary School in Savannah, I saw clearly by age 9 that, if I actually expected to get an education, I would surely fail to get it in a Southern Public School. That’s when I panicked (thank goodness) and FLED
    to the Public Library, where I swallowed Hawthorne, Poe, Thoreau and Emerson (I don’t remember why these particular authors, but the names were so famous that I knew this was how to educate myself).

    Things don’t appear to have changed all that much, given the debased stupidity now rattling around in the South Carolina legislature. The old saw “Democracy is the worst form of government ever invented except for anything else” is certainly true. But a major built-in flaw with democracy is, that when the people rule, they dumb down the general culture to the lowest common denominator: devoid of thought, unable to make rational judgments, clinging together in defensive terror like a herd of sheep. This debased worship of “know-nothingism” gives rise inevitably to the crudest forms of hate.

  111. One cannot look at this subject without acknowledging the failures of our so-called experts. Show me a failed social experiment, and Canada is full of them, and I’ll show you a team of experts who advocated tirelessly for it in the face of quite opposition from the folks expected to pay the tab. Equalization is an ongoing failure. Native affairs is an ongoing disaster. General Keynesian economics is a joke, yet so-called experts who believe in the veracity of such fairy tales will propose tinkering with and adjusting policy failures ’til the cows come home. Often times, it’s like suggesting we adjust the fuel mixture on an engine that has spit out a rod, and hoping it might run better.
    Then there is the routine veneration of supposed intellectuals who are as dumb as a post. Pierre Trudeau is widely hailed as a great intellect, yet he was a Marxist sympathizer who couldn’t grasp that the murderous tendencies of Communist regimes weren’t a bug, they were a feature. Common citizens eventually grasp that the supposed smartest guys in the room actually aren’t.

    • Trudeau was not a “Marxist sympathizer”, but yes, he was very much an intellect. He understood Marxism/Socialism/Communism very well, He incorportated some if it’s benefical ideals, hence why back then Canada had one of the best (Universal) Health-Care systems of any Western Country, in the world.

      He also dragged Canadians, kicking and screaming if need be, into the Scientific and Technology age, hence again, from Candu reactors, to Education, …, to Medicine/Healthcare, we did pretty good, and ended it all with our own Canadian “Constitution” -and we did it without “Guns”.
      And almost 10 years after Nixon was impeached, Trudeau was still PM of Canada -so he did a lot of things right.
      Americans, (because of conditioning), know about as much about Marxism, as I know about Buddhism, which is zero.

      A “corrupt” Capitalism, is NO better than a “corrupt” Socialism/Marxism.
      If people can’t even understand that, then their close-mindedness, is of no more worth than their embroidered flags stitched onto their guns.

      • I will guaran-ass-tee you that most Americans know more about Marxism than you do, simply on the basis that you find any of it’s inherent corruption and oppression to be somehow beneficial.
        Also don’t ever let yourself forget that Obama has committed more impeachable acts in his Presidency than Nixon. Chief among them is the rapidly unravelling “non-story” (Why’s it a non-story? Because “experts” said so!) of using the IRS to target conservative PAC’s.

  112. Lol, glad I am not a leftist liberal believing this junk.

  113. Ah, so because of your personal opinion on the matter of gun rights (or lack thereof in your dream world), the U.S. is dumb. Makes perfect sense.

    Btw, America is the continent, U.S.A. the country. Just because you’re so educated.

  114. Well I agree with much of this author’s point, I would caution against conflating skepticism towards scientific findings with being anti-science. I would count myself in the 74% of respondents that “don’t truly believe what scientists say,” not because I think science is a fiction or that scientists are duplicitous but because so many scientific findings are later overturned. From medicine, to physics, to nutrition, to psychological science, to economics, much of what we humans have developed using the scientific process has turned out to be incomplete, incorrect, or just the tip of the iceberg. Biases creep into research, results are not able to replicated, findings turn out to actually be the result of variables not accounted for in the research process, etc.

    Just blindly believing anything that any scientist reports is the height of naiveté and stupidity in my opinion. We should be skeptical. That is healthy. And that is not the same as being anti-science. I think the scientific process it the single greatest cultural innovation by humanity. It has opened every other door. Yet frequently it leads to incorrect answers. That is part of the process. Science in aggregate works, even if individual outcomes are often wrong.

  115. Our decline of the American dream began with the insanity of Vietnam and the hateful political games were devised to play one generation against the others in promises to end the war where the administration did precisely the opposite to stay in power. Since then our decline is rapidly increases much in harmony as the detrimental effects of climate change. The enemy with in is our inability to even try to work things out.

  116. While Mr. Gatehouse makes many good points, his incredibly liberal leanings and liberal opinions are written here to be interpreted as a given truth. Not so, in many of his statements. 1-Global warning is by no means certain to be man-made, as the earth has been going through these cycles for millenia.
    2-The mass shootings are generally not a result of lax gun control standards. If people present at these shootings had been armed themselves, the perpetrator would not have the luxury of shooting people who couldn’t fight back. Criminals will not follow gun control laws. It’s common sense.
    3-Obamacare has been an extremely costly misadventure. People who had reasonable insurance plans found their coverage reduced, while the costs of this increased significantly–in my case by 33%!
    4-True, the children are not as well educated as in past generations, but the liberal left, who won’t allow a poor student to flunk, has promoted this “dumbing down” of our system. Teachers cannot discipline students without a lawyer claiming abuse. They are basically helpless. With the government trying to force-feed the schools to follow their lesson plans, and not allowing good teachers to use their own initiative, our system will be turning out large numbers of average students, but few brilliant ones.
    5-Newspapers and magazines no longer “print the truth”. The bulk of them are seriously liberal in their leanings, and color every story from that point of view. Or…they simply ignore the stories that are hurtful to the liberal leaders of this country. President Obama has coasted through many mistakes he and his administration have made, while the most recent Republican presidents have been blasted in the press regularly. Had a Republican done some of the things Obama has done, the press would crucify him or her.
    6-It is true, that the digital “press” often sensationalize the personal opinions of some select celebrities, and treat these opinions as worthy of serious consideration, when they are no more valid than any person off the street with a high school education. Unfortunately, this has always been so, since the advent of Hollywood, and the questionable pedestal that the public has placed these celebrities. A good actor is nothing more than someone who can lie effectively and often, and make it very believable on the big or small screen. Why their opinions should sway anyone with a brain is one of the mysteries of the universe.

  117. “Everywhere you look these days, America is in a rush to embrace the stupid. Hell-bent on a path that’s not just irrational, but often self-destructive.”

    Just like those that ignore that almost every mass shooting event was at a “gun free” zone? Or that the CDC’s report showed that ‘universal’ background checks would be worthless without total registration? Or that a survey of police officers found that the magazine limits were worthless? Or that the same police survey showed that they thought background checks were worthless? Or that when mentioning SandyHook that there was an ‘assault weapon’ ban in place? Or that the official report on the VT shooting found that magazine capacity was not a factor?

    Why is it considered “high intelligence” to ignore this data?

    • I agree. We should be looking less at gun control and more at the mind-altering prescriptions the mass shooters were on to explain the mass shootings. There were tons of guns 50 years ago when we didn’t have this number of mass shootings. What changed? The prevalence of mind altering prescriptions. Listen to broadcaster Alex Jones if you’re not already.

  118. On the contrary, it is horribly self-aggrandizing articles like this where the article pats himself/herself on the back that makes me worry about the future of America.

  119. Whiskey Tango Foxtrot? What exactly is the case AGAINST natural selection?

  120. If you think Vaccines are safe and effective, it’s YOU that’s been dumbed down. Do a little research you might be shocked.

    • Might want to take your own advice, Dave. 100% effective? No. Much more effective than no vaccines? Absolutely. Please don’t just take Jenny McCarthy’s word on the subject.

  121. Americans are right to be skeptical of “established science”. It has been wrong more often than it was right ever since it existed.

  122. I agree that America is by and large getting “dumber”. I blame the stance of Christian churches throughout the United States.
    While there has been a recent upsurge in Atheism and Agnostism among the newer generations, the older generations are fighting back with making a hard stance about God and the Bible, and that’s no good for anyone. Believe what you want, but understand that your beliefs are your own and no one else HAS to adhere to them.
    As far as gun control goes, I live in Georgia, and I have a concealed carry license. I am of the mindset that allowing citizens that wish to exercise their 2nd amendment rights in more places offers a greater deterrent to those that would attempt to do harm.
    Loss of life on any level is a horrendous thing, but if it’s the difference of shooting one person attempting to do harm, versus many people injured or killed, I’m going to opt to shoot “the bad guy”.
    The shooting at the theater wouldn’t have been nearly as tragic if an armed citizen was in the audience returning fire, hopefully stopping that lunatic. 2-3 citizens in the audience WOULD have stopped him.
    Another point is that Kennesaw, Ga was listed as one of the safest cities in America. Why? Because they had a law on the books that every residence was required to have at least a shotgun in the home. No one is going to attempt to break into a home if they know everyone is armed.
    The law was later was challeneged in the Supreme Court and was determined to be unconstitutional, but most residents still adhere to it.
    You cannot stop bad people from obtaining weapons. Even if you took att the weapons from all the citizens and shut down all the manufacturers in America. Guns will still get in the country, bad people will still buy them, and the rest of us will be sitting ducks.
    I am neither a liberal nor conservative. I am for what is right, and what is just. This country has take. Huge leaps forward during the last century. Since the beginning of the 21st century, something changed. Ignorance has grown, and people slap each other on the back over how strong their faith is, and science is practically spurned because of the contradiction it creates to their newly fortified faith.
    50 more years, and this country might actually get back on track. But until then, it’s all going to be growing pains as well relearn everything.

    And no, I don’t like Obama or HIS version of universal healthcare. Instead of determining costs with insurance providers, he should have worked with doctors and their actual costs. Thing would be a lot different for everyone then. The system as it stands now, sucks for everyone except those that couldn’t afford it before.

    • Sorry for the grammatical errors and misspelled words. Autocorrect on my phone has decided that it’s version of what I typed is better than the authors version.

    • “…if it’s the difference of shooting one person attempting to do harm, versus many people injured or killed, I’m going to opt to shoot “the bad guy”. The shooting at the theater wouldn’t have been nearly as tragic if an armed citizen was in the audience returning fire, hopefully stopping that lunatic. 2-3 citizens in the audience WOULD have stopped him.”

      Uh huh. And if a bunch of people pulled out their guns and started shooting back, how many others would have been caught in the cross-fire? Would those citizens have been able to tell who were the good guys and who were the bad guys? Or would they each have assumed anyone else with a gun was an inherent danger? MAYBE lives would have been saved. But it could just as easily ended up worse.

  123. The flipside here, worthy of deeper investigation, is the corruption of science through really bad practices in peer-reviewed journals. And frankly since they went down the paywall route, restricting access to science based on cash, that accelerated walling off the general public from high level knowledge. Science should not be hoarded like this, and it directly contributes to problems cited in this article. (‘Intellectual property’ is a deluded concept that also accelerates these problems and in fact could seriously damage all of human civilization, even more than it already has.)

  124. Just read a selection of around 30 comments here below. Everyone seems preoccupied with historical precedents and political personalities, whilst paying little attention to Gatehouse’s argument concerning social trends in the USA which are reflected in other educational zones in the world, including Europe. I hesitate to conjure a literary reference but it appears the morlocks are winning. In my view, the reason is the worship ‘technological progress’ – often for its own sake and/or for financial profit. We have, in the space of about 25 years, managed to produce the ultimate paradoxical paradigm – giving us instant access to knowledge and many other forms of intellectual, spiritual and emotional gratification. The internet has become the single most influential factor in helping to dumb down ‘the western world’ because it has taught us that, nowadays, we need not inquire much, think much, strive much nor achieve much in order to feel we have ‘succeeded’ in life. Yes, ‘everyone will become famous for 15 minutes’ but perhaps Warhol should have added the codecil that no-one would actually need to do very much to deserve that accolade.

  125. “Survival of the fittest”? No, that implies a meritocracy. Where there is inheritance of (IE unearned) great wealth, there can be no meritocracy, just ‘might makes right’, which is not the same thing at all.

    “If you were dumber and bigger, you’d probably be a bully too. I think it’s called ‘survival of the thickest’. – Fat Kid from ParaNorman

  126. This was a depressing read. I just don’t understand this frame of mind. I don’t understand how my otherwise intelligent friends become conspiracy theorists. I don’t understand why everyone seems to have become so lazy when it comes to discourse. Instead of using rational debate to come up with solutions, everyone seems to isolate themselves with like-minded people and badmouth those they consider outsiders.

    I fear that the USA is doomed and done for unless something changes quickly.

  127. Part of what feeds the “anti-science” or “anti-facts” attitude is the tendency by proponents to implement “solutions” that are way off the mark and don’t actually deal with the real problems. Just a couple of examples – there’s fairly strong evidence that gun control as proposed and implemented in parts of the US doesn’t actually reduce gun violence. And efforts to further reduce the carbon footprint by, for example, adding a carbon tax to WA state gasoline sales, do nothing to address the real problem, which is unrestrained particulate emissions by China, India, Russia etc. Lastly, the practical implementation of the Obamacare, while its goals may be laudable, has been so flawed and loaded with unintended negative consequences for millions of citizens, that it’s left a bad taste in the mouth of much of the US population. When the average citizen sees non-working “solutions” being forced down their throat in the name of science, they are bound to be resentful and suspicious of all of it.

    • Ah no, “particulate matter” doesn’t cause warming(if anything it causes cooling). A carbon tax does indeed address CO2 emissions.
      This article may be about you.

      • Lenny, old sage, I didn’t say it causes warming. I said it’s the major environmental problem we face. It does cause iceberg melts, by settling on them and then collecting the sun’s heat. Check out what’s happening in Greenland for example.

        By the way, it’s always best to actually read and try to understand someone’s comment before popping off and displaying your inability to understand nuanced remarks to the reader.

        • But it isn’t the “real problem”.
          Particulate concentrations in the atmosphere have been dropping for decades.
          It’s CO2 concentrations that have continued to increase.

          • It’s way down – in the US. But in China, India, and so forth, it’s a local and global health disaster. Far worse than the effects of plain CO2. When was the last time you saw everyday commuters wearing masks and carrying supplemental oxygen in the US?

            I’d post links to multiple citations that prove my points, but this website won’t allow it.

          • It’s been dropping globally for decades despite high concentrations in some developing countries in which WA has no legislative authority.

  128. This anti-intelligence trend is incredibly embarrassing and terribly frightening. I wish I had the solution, but we as a nation glorify idiots like the Kardashians who aren’t even literate enough to read from cue cards (see Billboard Awards) and are rich and famous for having sex on video.

    And, when you bring the religious zealots into it, then things REALLY get nutty. I simply don’t get it.

    Facts are facts. And, faith is entirely different. Faith is believing in something without proof. Science is proving something you believe. How anyone can pretend that faith equals fact is beyond me. This extremist, fundamentalist thinking is going to be the downfall of our country.

    In Texas, they are removing all critical thinking classes from public schools because “they don’t want the kids to question what their faith teaches them.” That is literally the reason! Yes. Let’s raise a generation of kids incapable of forming their own opinion or questioning anything – surely that’s how innovation is sparked!

    The only hope is that one of the mist highly rated shows right now is the Cosmos with Neil DeGrasse Tyson in which he repeatedly reminds us to question everything while laying out proven facts and asking the questions our existing knowledge can’t answer. Here is hoping we turn this tide. But, honestly, I wouldn’t bet on it.

    • Science is NOT “proving what you believe.” It is coming to a conclusion- and possibly a belief – AFTER carefully collecting and evaluating ALL the evidence. That so many believe the opposite, and act accordingly, is a large part of the problem.

  129. The sad part is the we are exporting it to you in Canada, you are slowly getting your own “tea party” too.

  130. > “Just 12 per cent expressed strong confidence in the press to accurately report scientific findings. ”

    To be fair while I trust science and scientists I do not trust the media to report scientific findings. A paper could have a tiny sample size and conclude in the first paragraph that more study is necessary and major news outlets will report that “SCIENTISTS CONFIRM THE EFFECTS OF SOMETHING ON SOMETHING,” or a physics paper for example could report a finding slightly different from simulated models and the headlines will read “NEWSPAPER CHALLENGES EVERYTHING WE KNOW ABOUT THE UNIVERSE.”

    This kind of sensationalist reporting is not confined to Buzzfeed, UpWorthy, and other easy to consume click bait websites either… A recent paper on the effects of marijuana on the physiology of the brain saw headlines of that type on all major news sites when the paper itself said it was inconclusive based on sample size and that the findings were limited and warranted further study.

    … now, that said… I absolutely agree with the article. Spot on.

  131. The rest of the world? You mean parts of Western Europe, Canada, New Zealand, and Australia right?

    Most of the world arguably doesn’t believe in evolution, or at least some aspect of it, because it contradicts their national stances and cultural beliefs. We obviously don’t count the billions in developing nations because that would contradict the beliefs of the white liberal white.

  132. This isnt a country getting dumber. Its a result of a growing minority moving on to scientific and realistic beliefs that cause a diminishing majority to push back even harder because they know that all that they believe in will soon be irrelevant. Similar to a partner who grows distant in a relationship often in turn causes the drother to cling on even harder because they know theyre losing that person. This majority is the fat, lazy spouse who grew a beer gut and gave up on their dreams and this growing minority is the hot spouse with high aspirations, goals and chiseled body. See you never ignorant majority.

  133. Though I am on your side with all of this, and sat nodding my head as I read exactly what I think, do you not think that, in sourcing close to none of your figures and claims, you are actually a source of work that you/we so hate? You write that fear-mongering by those such as Jenny McCarthy is bad, and I imagine you think this because they write what they damn-well please, and make no attempt to back it up with any reliable source. They simply play towards opinions that people already have. Is this not what you are doing in this article by not sourcing anything?

    Let us lead by example, source your figures and claims, and use reason and logic to make our arguments; let us not become anti-science ourselves.

    • Exactly.

  134. It became clear to me after a paragraph that you are part of the problem in this country. What YOU believe is “right” and everyone else is a moron for not thinking like you. You are exactly the same as every jackass in Washington. Another one sided idiot who talks down to everyone who doesn’t see their point of view.

    • You missed the whole point of this article.

      • He is the point.

  135. While I almost wholeheartedly agree with everything you have said. The one thing that bothered me was your reference to Jenny McCarthy being a playboy model. People who are educated about the human anatomy is part of being an intellectual. One thing that is being attacked by conservatives is sex education. This is happening for many reasons. Some to do with people pointing to the bible and others being because there is such a negative connotation around sex in general in the US. People then take this negative image about sex and say we shouldn’t being teaching about it. So I disliked you pointing that she was once a playboy model, that is an irrelevant fact. The fact that she has only a highschool education is the important fact. Many women have in the sex industry have spoken out and said they got into it to pay for school. There’s a very interesting article from a women who is attending Duke University. As a young educated 25 year old women, who is having to deal with the negativity our society holds upwards womens sexuality, I felt the need to speak out.

    • *I typed my comment above on a very old iPod with extremely slow Internet, pardon my typos.

  136. What trash. How sad that supposedly intellectual people can take such a pose. There is so much to sneer at in return here, but I won’t bother with all that – merely to point out a few completely irrational positions the author has made.

    1. Equating skepticism about the causes and effects of AGW with belief in intelligent design is just nonsense. There are many, many climate scientists who disagree with the faux consensus that doesn’t even exist. The IPCC is declaring greater certainty in its political documents than it’s scientific documents claim. While the models are shown to be less and less valid and reliable, and many issues remain poorly understood such as how AGW affects severe weather in the science sections – resulting in the IPCC widening the range of it’s predictions by lowering the bottom of the range by a full degree. So, to question it is quite rational.

    2. To then try and draw a parallel from there to supporting our right to own firearms – it’s not an option, btw, the Heller and McDonald decisions confirmed that – and to claim that is irrational and unscientific is pure hyperbole. There is no logical basis for such an argument.

    I’m an atheist, so I have no a priori sympathy for intelligent design or any magical thinking. But I also think that this kind of sneering, pseudo-intellectual claptrap is the lowest kind of agit prop. How sad that something this vile could be published by a major magazine.

    • “… the faux consensus that doesn’t even exist. ”

      No, a faux consensus doesn’t exist.
      However, at the risk of bein all elite with ma writin, I suggest that next time you simply say, “there is a consensus.” That would be a more common and understandable way of expressing that particular idea in English.

  137. So because people believe in a higher power and don’t believe something (global warming) that possibly may not be fact they are ignorant. I think you are the ignorant one. They’ve gotten things wrong in the past and some of these “Facts” could be wrong as well. I’m not arguing them there is lots of evidence but I think you are simply labeling people as idiots because they don’t know some “obvious” facts (or rather facts that are obvious to you). I didn’t know that you were the one deciding how to measure intelligence. So would you be able to solve the diffusion equation in 2 dimensions with homogenous boundary conditions with an initial condition = 1? Oh you can’t, well your an ignoramus by my standards!

  138. What starts out as a reasoned article about some religious whack-job’s attempt to push science on the legislative back burner turned into a leftist rant, which was evident as soon as Obamacare got into the “discussion.” Sorry, Mr. Gatehouse, you lost this reader.

  139. Yet somehow the well educated Europeans started the two bloodiest wars of the 20th Century (not to mention all the wars fought on their continent before that), came up with an ideology (Marxism) that ended up being partially responsible killing even more, and killed 6 million Jews.

  140. You answered your own question: people no longer trust their leaders (who no longer deserve it) – and by extension the economic and policy elites that accompany it.

    The president is insincere, inauthentic, and lies. His staff is insincere, inauthentic, and lies. Congress is insincere, inauthentic, and lies. The NSA is insincere, inauthentic, and lies. Banks are insincere, inauthentic, and lie. CEOs are insincere, inauthentic, and lie. The media is insincere, inauthentic, and lies.

    The volume of BS emanating from Washington and corporate PR and flowing through the media is truly staggering, and mind numbing.

    Little wonder the public throws the baby out with the bath water. It may be the smartest thing they can do.

    • The bathwater was probably polluted anyway.

  141. I don’t think people are getting any stupider, I think it is just becoming much more obvious since they can now broadcast their complete ignorance about anything and everything to the entire world on the internet.

  142. (I’m a native South Carolinian engaged in the battle of trying to get people to THINK!

    I think one reason for dumbing down is that many “intellectuals” abandoned the PEOPLE for ideas, concepts, philosophies, what-ifs, seeking to answers to the unanswerable, etc. The “people” felt betrayed by those who could have helped them and made the world a better place in real terms–not just in theory.

    In turn, many “intellectuals” looked down on “the people” (and still do) who could not “think and understand” as they did (and had to labor to feed themselves)….and “dumbing down” is the people’s retaliation against this abandonment. The people don’t want to be like the do-nothing intellectuals who left them behind–so they eschew education and anything that seems intellectual. Unfortunately, neither “the people” NOR the “intellectuals” are smart enough to see they are killing each other off. The end of dream as we once believed it. Another causality to explore is “the people’s” despair in the face of economic disparity that runs rampant in the US…”the people” are just giving up and giving in to the “comfort food” of mindless entertainment and the mundane of everyday life…they just wanna get by.

  143. I will agree that there are a lot of dumb people out there. However I disagree with the notion that because a person questions scientific “fact” or happens to have an opposing viewpoint on several of the topics in the article that they are automatically dumb. The whole point of science in the first place is to question “truths”, and many scientific “truths” are simply theories that haven’t been proven wrong (yet). People have plenty of reason to be skeptical of science, particularly anything endorsed by our government. How many drugs have been put to market as beneficial only to be recalled 5, 10, 20 years later because they were actually harmful. How many times have we been told this is good for you, that is bad for you, only to find out years later that they “got it wrong”. What exactly is Pluto? This skepticism does not makes us dumb. It just means we are not blind sheep following the latest scientific trend. I find this article offensive.

  144. On the wall of Chapters, a book shop in Vancouver, one can read, in huge letters, the sentence ‘The World Needs More Canada’.

    Although much in this article, it also strikes me as playing, tacitly, to the same unreflective nationalism which inspired that extraordinary assertion (I live in Berlin. Try on ‘Die Welt braucht mehr Deutschland’ for size.)

    • ‘although much in this article *is true*’…

  145. This article is a joke. Statistics like this are a joke. I consider myself a person of fairly average scientific literacy and I would’ve picked what you consider the ‘right’ answer on all of the questions above.

    Where are these surveys administer that these statistics were derived from? South Carolina? The bible belt? I say give the same surveys to people in New England, I guarantee you will get more educated answers.

    I hate to say it but the good old folks at Yale, Harvard, and MIT are leading the way in research and development in virtually every scientific field. If you are DYING of cancer, you know where you go? Yale Cancer Center, because they are so far ahead of any other institution in the world.

    I could go on forever giving examples of US technological and scientific prowess. Who put men on the moon? Where were the first computers developed? First flight? The first affordable automobiles (you Canadians use those thing right)?

    So, my point is, when you survey a bunch of idiots that live in mobile homes, ‘its easy to filter out what you don’t what to hear’ that there are plenty of Americans are intelligent scientific people.

    Hey, last time I checked, we run the god damn world.

    -Proud/realistic American

    • ” I consider myself a person of fairly average scientific literacy and I would’ve picked what you consider the ‘right’ answer on all of the questions above.”

      Hence this article.

      And yes, the US is still a world leader. It has 10x the population of Canada. In other words, 90% of the country could be young-earth yokels and the US would still contain an equivalent population of Canada that weren’t.

  146. Nice article. My only criticism is that the use of the word “folks” is not necessarily anti-intellectual. Lots of people use that word because it is gender neutral and more inclusive (an alternative to saying something gender-specific like “you guys” or just plain awkward like “you people”).

  147. In 1920, H. L. Mencken wrote: “When a candidate for public office faces the voters he does not face men of sense; he faces a mob of men whose chief distinguishing mark is the fact that they are quite incapable of weighing ideas, or even of comprehending any save the most elemental — men whose whole thinking is done in terms of emotion, and whose dominant emotion is dread of what they cannot understand. So confronted, the candidate must either bark with the pack or be lost… All the odds are on the man who is, intrinsically, the most devious and mediocre — the man who can most adeptly disperse the notion that his mind is a virtual vacuum. The Presidency tends, year by year, to go to such men. As democracy is perfected, the office represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. We move toward a lofty ideal. On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart’s desire at last, and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron.”

    • See: George W. Bush. Mission accomplished.

      (Obama may not be more – or even as – successful in achieving his goals, but he IS smarter.)

  148. The intellectuals and scientists have failed us. We have never before had such high rates of depression, teen suicide, pedophilia, child abductions/prostitution,slavery, war, famine, joblessness, crime, and rampant lawlessness to name but a few of the ills mankind inflicts upon itself. Every web-page has links to pornography, every time you log in a scam artist is trying to steal your passwords and your identity. Various animals, most notably Rhino’s, are being hunted into extinction and the rape of our rain forests is slowly destroying the atmosphere. Millions of young children grow up without fathers and millions more are drafted into wars from as young as eight years old. Whole economies have collapsed into bankruptcy and drought, famine pestilence and war drive major migrations into Europe and other so-called first world countries. Meanwhile scientists try and encourage governments to spend millions on vaccines no one wants or needs in the name of the almighty dollar. The whole system is about to collapse, and don’t blame the fundamentalists when it does. Civilization has dug its own grave, and science is powerless to stop its death.

  149. This comment has been removed.

  150. There is actually plenty of reasons to doubt what scientists say. Over and over again people have been fed lies, can you blame people for being skeptical?

  151. Oh I wouldn’t get too upset about this. It IS a Deep South state after all, not Massachusetts, or even Nevada. No one seriously believes that our future will be determined by this particular group of ignorant fools. Our future is being shaped by a very bright group: CEOs of the oil and energy companies and their agents in U.S. Congress.

  152. What a sad commentary on the author. The same old we have heard since the US was formed. Why doesn’t the elite have more say in the US. Well, because it isn’t like the Liberal elitist democracies that the author comes from (Canada) and which you see in Europe as well. We do pretty well though with a “Government by the people, for the people…”. This is a highly divers nation (more than any ever in the history of man); Culturally, economically, ethnically, geographically etc. and there is no one picture, as the one described here, that can describes the US. It is a wonderfully messy place and views like these are available in the US too on 2 big public Socialist radio stations in both NYC and LA and we even have one Socialist in Congress, Bernie Sanders, Vermont (almost Canadian, heheh!). Great country with great people, and I say that as an immigrant! By the way, the opinion your read here is often presented on RT TV, which is the Kremlin’s (Russia’s) official TV network. Should make you question it, no?

  153. This article is overly simplified. Ask imprecise questions, you get imprecise answers. Yes, medical costs are high in the US, and 15% of Americans may not have health insurance. But Obamacare does not resolve address the high costs of care. “Smoking causes cancer” leaves room for interpretation. There are many people dying of cancer today who never smoked a day in their lives, as well as people who have smoked their entire lives and not died of cancer. An article like this needs to be more precise in the language. Otherwise the statistics and claims are meaningless.

  154. What do global warming hysteria and socialized medicine have to do with the article’s theme? Oh, I get it, “dumb” = not leftist.

    • In a nutshell.

      And I bet the hack that wrote this really thinks he wrote a seriously analytical piece. It just comes across as juvenile, and smarmy. Better fit for some hipster’s Tumblr blog.

  155. It’s actually very telling that a nation that continues to worship an inbred anachronism from the middle ages as their “head of state”, who lives in another nation, still likes to look at Americans as “dumb”? Like who are you people to talk?

    The sheer condescension of this article is appalling. Nothing more than childish insults from a people that think way too much of themselves, and their century old mission to not feel like some hacked together afterthought of a nation that still cant get over not being a British colony. This whole article could be boiled down to three things:

    Americans dont read (which is a lie). I dont buy many books, but I certainly read quite a bit. We have this thing here in the future called the internet. We also have audiobooks, and documentaries on video. But I suppose it has to be some dead tree in a binding to count, huh?

    Many Americans don’t subscribe to the theory of evolution (the horrors!). As if believing it one way or the other affects anyone’s life. They also dont totally buy the global warming/cooling/climate change theory that has become little more than a tool of partisans on the left. Again, the horrors! There are many people around the world that dont. Maybe they should be like Canadians whom dont totally subscribe to it either. I guess that part didnt make this tirade of an article.

    3) Americans take their 2nd amendment seriously. And why shouldn’t they? But I guess that was just a reason to post a photo of two fat people with colorful guns as some sort of defining image of what all people with firearms are like? Just plain childishness.

  156. The author implies that Canadians are much smarter than we Americans. If that is the case, how does he explain that in ’12 more than 20,000 Canadians moved here and only about 9000 Americans moved north?

    • “…how does he explain that in ’12 more than 20,000 Canadians moved here and only about 9000 Americans moved north?”

      The cold winters.

  157. Evolution is for grownups.

  158. We say this all the time, but yet rovers on Mars, footprints on the Moon, space shuttles, jets invisible to radar, and foreign students lining up to enter our universities tells me otherwise.
    It’s easy to dismiss the non-coastal areas as backwards and dimwitted but consider the following: NASA’s JSC is in Houston Texas. NASA’s MSFC is in Huntsville Alabama. NASA’s KSC is in Florida. NASA’s Michoud Ass’y Center is in Louisiana. Stennis Space Center is in Mississippi. Lockheed Martin is in Marietta Ga and Ft. Worth Tx.. Cessna, Beechcraft and Boeing are in Wichita KS. McDonnell Douglas (Boeing) is in St. Louis Missouri. ATK’s solid rocket engines are made in Salt Lake Ut. All of this high tech exists in the so-called “backwards” parts of the country.

    • What are you talking about?

      Your “evidence” doesn’t mean anything. NASA probably put their centers there because the land was cheaper, or it had some relevance geographically to their needs. Plus, better year-round weather.

      Also, NASA is horribly outdated and almost totally irrelevant at this point in American history. Your “evidence” proves absolutely nothing. Why don’t you look at where the best universities are in the country, or where the biggest corporations have their bases, or where the biggest economic centers are? That would actually prove something. You could also use data from surveys conducted to figure out educational levels in different areas.

  159. Excellent piece. Great comments

  160. Reminds me of Dostoevsky’s “Demons”. We’re all following Shigalov’s path to equality: bring everyone down to the lowest common denominator. But, really, most of these ignorant folks (intended use of the word) are really just unsophisticated Verkhovenskys who want to watch the world burn.

  161. America doesn’t car about other peoples rights. Politicians just use that as a mater of convenience to hide the real motivations when they say we do Libay, Syria and others for “human rights”.

    What really motivates US politicians is power, control, oil, banking corruption and empire/colonial mentality. Don’t let a Gaddafi, with no debt, solvent, organize a unified western Africa state and demand gold for oil as gold isn’t fiat thin air US Fed/Tresury money of depreciating value. Nope, Gaddafi had to be gone for cheap oil, acceptance of US/Euro fiat money, unorganized states so US and Europe colonialism would thrive.

    Fact is a Sunni Mulim US Present has no intentions of going after Boko Haram as they be Islam unless some force forces him too. Being Harvard/Sunni and Saudi Sunni contribute good to Harvard, lots of reasons why Obama will not help 300+ girls and a society ravaged with Islamic violences.

    Disgusting is our political system that is more about managing us than seeking justice and truth….and for many that isn’t a governemtn secret, just ask Assange, Snowdon, Brown and others…..the truths have been banned… our own governments.

    • Fact is you have no facts that prove that the President of the US is a Muslim, let aline a Sunni Muslim nor does he need to shill for Harvard, with its $32 billion endowment fund.

  162. The article is mostly accurate. I am familiar with Hofstadter’s book & am an American, so I can assure any & all that the problem of ignorance in the US is not a new one. The technological trends, however, are impacting Europe, the Near East, & everywhere that the Internet & its spinoff technologies are being used. It’s why the average timespan of soundbites has dropped & so few people read real books anymore: Because due to the accelerating pace of such technologies & the 24-7-365 news cycle, most people these days have the attention span of the average hamster. I’d be surprised if anyone actually reads this comment completely.

    Also, some of the comments posted in this thread are fine examples of the anti-rational, dogmatic thinking the author decries.

  163. That’s a fantastic reply. LOVE IT! The only problem is you have restricted it to that particular breed of Homo stultus that live in trailer parks & like to wear mullets & John Deere baseball hats. Homo stultus has more than one subspecies, sir. They wear pants at half mast so you can see their underwear, or they drive cars with flashy wheels & low-profile tires, with overamped stereo systems, & completely unnecessary hydraulic lifters in the cars’ frames. Homo stultus comes in all colors, shapes & sizes (though they commonly tend to be large & fat). I can speak of this with some depth, having lived in the rural Midwest as well as a ghetto in Las Vegas. I’ve seen plenty of them…& it never fails to depress me.

  164. Exactly,
    dumb and dummer want to be blindly controlled, and data-mined, and spied on by their own gov’t because their too dumb to Govern themselves.
    They wanna know what you do, but they don’t want you to know what “they’re” doing ? -It’s all about the insane contol and power over everyone.
    and, it’s not just that America(-the elected Politicians,…) don’t care about other peoples rights’, they don’t even care about their OWN peoples rights’, or the constitution.
    Also, regarding “Assange, Snowdon …”, just see the pbs-Documentary “United States of Secrets”:

    It’s disgusting, but it’s the black and white truth.
    Every single American’s own 4th and 1st Amendmend Rights have been Constitutionally violated. -It’s nothing but a criminal act by the Gov’t-started by Bush,…
    And Obama, who was “against” it, initially, (remember his “no secrets” campaign promise ?!) before he was elected, flips, and even endorsed it. -they’re all, as politicians, just liars -similar to our own canadian Gov’t.
    “Justice and truth” ? – heck, they can’t handle the truth.

    As far as I’m concerned “Snowden, Manning, …”, should get the Nobel.

  165. Before Canadians become too smug about the dumbing down of America, we need to take a good look at ourselves as we’re not far behind given the sorry state of our political discourse.

    Question Period in the Commons consists of loaded questions, canned talking point answers and name calling that are so predictable that the most casual observer could develop a monologue that would pretty well mirror it any day of the week. We no longer have governments that produce green papers to allow input from parliamentarians, academics, experts and citizens on major issues prior to legislation. Senate committees used to prepare extensive reports for public debate on issues of serious concern but the Senate has deteriorated into body of rubber stamping, partisan, political hacks.

    We are now presented with several hundred page bills, with misleading titles that cover a myriad of issues, many of which have profound effects on society, Before most Canadians have had the opportunity to even know what’s in them, let alone measure the impact on their lives, the debate is ended by cloture and the bill is voted on. Parliamentary Committees that debate the bills are more often than not held “in camera” consequently ensuring that the public is kept in the dark.

    Apparently all Canadians need to know about government activity and what’s in these bills comes from costly, slick ads, truncated news reports and inadvertent court cases that arise from ideologically driven legislation.

    The trolls who frequent threads such as this one, differ little from many of our politicians who have perfected the art of personal attack. Environmentalists are “money launderers, AFN Chiefs who disagree with the government are “rogues”. The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada acted “inappropriately” for doing her job. Jack Layton was labelled “Taliban Jack” for suggesting negotiations between NATO and the Taliban in Afghanistan. The issues raised by Kevin Page. Richard Colvin and Linda Keen were never addressed but instead they or their work were trashed not with facts but innuendo. Just as in the US, scurrilous attacks on opponents and institutions are little more than contrived opportunities for fund raising to produce bumper sticker campaign slogans which appeal to a dumbed down Canadian public.

  166. Ironically, the article turned out to be part of the very stupid it decries.
    Guns don’t kill people, people do. And despite being #1 on guns per capita, the US has lower murder rates than most of the world, including my native Russia, where guns are totally illegal and which ranks #2 on the murders per 100,000 rating.
    Of course people read fewer books than in 1978. They didn’t have home computers and the Internet back then, which in many ways have replaced books in terms of both entertainment and as the information source. I could go on and on with this article but you get my point.

  167. I would say this has a lot to do with how parents handle the education of their children. Simply sending kids off to school and expecting them to “be smart” isn’t going to work. All adults have a responsibility to help educate the younger generations, no matter how busy you are, how many emails you have to check, how many facebook notifications you have, how many appointments you have to make. I would also throw out the idea that two income households and single parent homes also have a lot to do with this change. I am not saying having two people in the house go to work, or being a single parent is a BAD thing. I am just saying there are consequences to these changes. Before you had two people, one going to work and one staying home. The one that went to work focused on the business while the other could focus on the domestic, this division of responsibilities allowed extra free time to for either parent to take on additional parental responsibilities if needed. Now both parents go to work, both parents are tired when they get home, and both parents want to get through the nightly chores as soon as possible so they can relax. The kids are already going to school and doing their homework so the parents may not see the need to follow up with their children. This feeling is strengthened by single parents who work. Work full time, still have to take care of domestic responsibilities, still have to take care of children. Its exhausting.

  168. One of the best articles I’ve read in a long time! Thank you.

  169. Canada…we’re not the USA! (but sort of)

  170. tl;dr Merica isn’t best at book learning and shit, It’s all Barrack Osamas fault. #hashtag

  171. While I think the author has a very strong point. I think what he’s saying is very true, but at the same time, I think there’s a polarizing meta-message: “if you are part of the statistics I cited, not only are you stupid, you are a morally repugnant person”. That said, there might not be any other way to get the message across, so you, the audience, is forced to receive this slap in the face. But that said, no one wants to be told that because they do not believe in an idea or practice, they are a morally repugnant person, so there’s not really a receptive audience. However, people always bemoan the current state of affairs. Those claims are valid, sure, but the funny thing about humans is that we somehow dig ourselves out of the ditch we dug in the first place. So it might be bad now, but sooner or later, these problems won’t exist anymore.
    I think a more interesting question would be “why is America dumbing down”? It’s easy to see it happening, but the more interesting question would be “why is that the case”? I personally wonder if it all originated after the late 1960’s and the rise of anti-government cynicism.

  172. Good article; unfortunately the use of statistics that are undoubtedly affected by the introduction of the internet (such as the reading stats), without mentioning it, significantly weakened that part of the argument. This, in turn, had a negative impact on the credibility of the article. By the way, I’m not American.

  173. While I do agree with the majority of this article, I was a bit disappointed to see that Jenny McCarthy’s profession seemed to be used as a marker of he intelligence. Or lack thereof.

    Taking nude photos of oneself does not indicate a lack of intelligence.

    She is bonkers though. I’ll give you that much.

  174. The bible belt idiots have taken over.

  175. Is it science when the scientists are caught blatantly conspiring and manipulating data to support political ends?

  176. Show me a fossil of a transitional form. I have requested this from many an evolutionist, and I have never received an example. I’m not asking much. Macroevolution, if it is true, should still be occurring. Show me a fossil. I’m not looking for a bird that forms a modified beak. I’m looking for a fossil halfway between one species and another, and not microevolution within a species. The dumbing down of America started when the theory of evolution extended to macroevolution based on widely accepted stories and no fossil evidence. Until I see transitional form fossils, macroevolution will be just as much of a faith system as any religion. Science is based on evidence, on theory tested by fact. Show me the evidence.

  177. This article saddens — editorial opinion after opinion, demonstrating only skin-deep analysis and understanding, is more the format for blogs or an opinion column than a feature article.

  178. This opinion piece makes it abundantly clear that ignorance, the product of being dumbed-down, is rampant in America. The writer does an excellent job of compiling incredulous examples of naivete and blinding group-speak. Assuming he was writing tongue-in-cheek, I think the article makes it’s sarcastic point well, by arguing in favor of the ignorant beliefs of so many Americans (and even world leaders). On the other hand, I have a nagging fear that the writer of this piece was serious, and was actually stating what her really believes, not trying to illustrate the absurdity of the extreme argument he was making. I certainly hope that he was aware of the inside joke of his pseudo-intelligent and baseless arguments. It would be tragic if Jonathan actually believed that his silly platform was rational. I am certain that could not be! Nevertheless, it is unfortunate that many will take his deliberately uninformed arguments seriously, rather than realize that many of the issues that he pretends to argue to be settled (on the par with all of science agreeing that the sun revolves around the earth) continue to be debated, with reasonable and evidence-supported arguments by intelligent scholars on both sides. But hopefully, many Americans will not succumb to the ignorance of group-speak where we end the debates to favor whatever the agenda-biased leaders prematurely decide should be the official “finale answer,” at least for now. Thanks, Jonathan, for the cleverly hidden paradox in your “dumbs down” argument. I got a good laugh.

  179. He turns from discussing science to the Liberal argument for gun control as if it is an established scientific fact that gun control prevents killing.

  180. Note to author: the conclusions by the IPCC regarding “climate change” are anything BUT “established science”. Appeal to authority is a lousy way to establish the science. Here’s the problem. I’m sure that the pro-AGW crowd is sick of hearing “Consensus is not science, nor is science … consensus.” I’m tired of hearing it, and I’m a skeptic in the scientific sense of the word. The real problem with the AGW boondoggle is that any scientists who remain skeptic of the so-called conclusions are crucified for being … well … scientists; for actually sticking to the good old-fashioned “scientific method”. To be sure, there are certainly nutjobs in the mix, but the “climate-change” issue is anything BUT settled. Why? Because “experts” disagree.

    • “Appeal to authority is a lousy way to establish the science. ”

      That’s why it’s been established by mountains of data and evidence published in countless studies which are then surveyed by the IPCC.

  181. It all traces back to organized religion, which should be classified as a psychological disorder. It’s like a cancer, and it’s really sad what it is doing to this country.

  182. This reminds me of the Isaac Asimov “Foundation” Novels. Where are the Psychohistorians when you need them?

  183. Good until the end, but social Darwinism is not interchangeable with natural selection. Our ignorance has nothing to do with our phenotype.

  184. The type of left wing blindness to all things real in this article it self, is what is “Dumb-ing down of America”.

  185. Problem is, Jonathon, you veer illogically from your own thesis, which begins as “why don’t Americans embrace rational/scienctific thinking despite the ‘facts'” (evolution, etc), and quickly morphs into “why don’t Americans believe in what is ‘right,” as defined by liberals like me,” a question that speaks more to your bias than to a dispassionate examination of anti-intellectualism. In a way, you answered your own question: People refuse to accept “your truths” partly because you are so insistent in shoving them down their throats, Jonathon.

  186. These “policy makers” are supposed to be our middle men. Lets remove them and give the power back to the people. Why not have millions of Americans vote on each policy instead of a few corrupt ones? With the internet and things like twitter etc I’m hoping the future holds something where we can all vote on each federal and even state policy immediately and securely. These middle men wont be needed anymore.

  187. Nice piece and well put together. I disagree with several aspects, including the slow death of print media and the lack of gun control being a bad thing. The idea that Americans that reject Obama Care are “dumb” is beyond ridiculous. While it does seem we are doomed as Americans when we read article after negative article, just a short trip to almost any school in America followed up with real conversations with the students tell a different story. I am amazed and proud of the level headed and thoughtful generation that is now entering the workforce. In contrast, I am a little ashamed to be a part of the often too critical generation that fears change and diversification. No Chicken Little, the sky is not falling; isolating our information intake to boring stats and doom & gloom media just makes it seem that way.

  188. I’d be impressed if “voting against their own interest” were defined. The only time I’d seen this, and it was in a review of “What’s The Matter With Kansas”, the egghead author determined that “their own interest” is welfare transfers to themselves, and he’s flummoxed to understand how those stupid voters could constantly support those evil Republicans who promise to not expand welfare transfers to voters.

    If the academy could comprehend the individual parent and husband, they would understand that we don’t want a society in which our children are excused from work because we do know that it is in indolence that all social pathologies are found.

  189. Re: Obamacare. I believe the author of this article is a bit misinformed himself. The Affordable Care Act doesn’t really provide health care for all Americans. It just forces us to buy health insurance. Insurance companies are notorious for preventing people from getting care they need ’cause it’s too expensive. Americans have always had the option of buying our own health insurance. It’s just very expensive to do so. Obamacare might help some people but many of us are just going to be hurt by it. Also under Obamacare, poor people are required to go on Medicaid. My mother went on Medicaid and the US govt took everything she had–all her savings, and they tried to take her house, because the govt tries to get its money back, to reimburse itself when people go on Medicaid. So Medicaid is NOT a good system and neither is Obamacare. I’m all for a “single-payer” system but not for Obamacare. We Americans have very good reason to distrust our government. BTW, after my mother died, I received an additional notice from the state govt demanding I tell them how much money she had left over in her bank account when she died. We’re using that money for her funeral expenses, thank you very much.

  190. One other thought I had is that the US has become a youth-focused culture. I think this is largely the result of advertising and big business aiming at youth who are more impressionable and, therefore, easier to persuade to buy.

    I believe this has a lot to do with the dumbing down of our society. When we worship youth, we disregard the wisdom and intelligence that comes from age and experience. Instead of warehousing our elderly in nursing homes, I wish we could just create a council of elders like some of the Native Americans did and have regular meetings with them where we could learn from their wisdom.

  191. I would say that South Carolina represents the worst of American ignorance, but alas, I cannot because I live in Alabama. Let’s just hope that Olivia manages to get out of the Bible Belt as soon as possible.

  192. Whenever I hear someone mouth the newly coined term “settled science”, or when I hear people use Darwin’s Theory of Evolution as proof of someone else’s “dumbing down”, I groan. Nothing seems to be a more perfect example of the huge gap between a journalist’s education and a scientist.
    Actually, I remember reading about the difference between a Theory and a Law in the 6th grade. There is a Law of Gravity that says that every time you drop an object it falls toward the earth. And then there is the Theory of Evolution, which states through Natural Selection animals and man evolved into what they are today. The job of true scientists is to test these “theories” repeatedly, not just state all discussion is over. The job of stating all discussions are over seems to be the politicians, the least believable of anyone.
    The difference between this journalist, and his bevy of semi-scientific professors quoted here, and their demi-god Darwin and his Theory they always hold up as “settled science”, is that Darwin was intelligent enough to call it a theory. And most highly regarded scientists today will admit that in the entire time since “Darwin’s writings there has been no example (proof) of a specie evolving into another. In Darwin’s later writings even he questions whether he got it right, and I think it is time some people stop calling others names just because they are being more Darwinian than they are.

  193. This article is ridiculous. It makes absolutely no sense, and contradicts its basic assumption repeatedly. If Americans are so incredibly ignorant and uninformed, which is supposed, but never demonstrated, why is it that the most sophisticated and best educated among them are the most critical and skeptical? Hmmm, I wonder…
    That said, one could argue that the changes to public education are playing a significant role in any actual “dumbing down” that is occurring. So-called Core math has kids going through 10 steps to add simple figures.
    And how are newspaper and magazine subscription numbers relevant at all? Are these being offered as evidence of America’s growing ignorance? Kind of ignores a larger trend in society toward demanding access to free news, which is why print media has been on the decline for over a decade.
    The writer also alternates between condemning the American Public for not having faith in the government (i.e. Obamacare), and extolls the virtues and overall saintliness of President Obama, then shames the public for its stupidity in not being concerned enough about the government’s sinister invasions of their privacy. So I guess you’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t. Even the most intelligent among you are idiots if you doubt the official, scientifically sanctioned doctrine, apparently.
    Elitest does not even begin to describe this perspective, which is heavily ironic, given the writer’s brief, detached description of the term. It really ought not to come as a surprise that within accepted scientific paradigms there are always anomalies and correspondingly, skepticism.
    Finally, somehow Americans’ supposed stupidity means that there is no democracy? Give me a break.
    Randomly sourced quotes thrown together do not an argument make.

  194. Americans have always, always, always been DUMB in their thinking. Canada loves to look at this and critique it from time to time. Nothing has changed, it always was like this.

  195. Barack Obama… cerebral and eloquent… the writer forgot incompetent, inexperienced and damaging.

  196. I agree with most of your article. What really surprised me, was that you had to mention health care? Really? You talk about scientific theories, then evidence and proof, but then you throw in health care, as if health care follows some kind of scientific data. Health care is not an entitlement. You earn it. Some people are against Obama care because they believe that you earn health care and it’s not the government’s responsibility to provide health care.

  197. I know there is no chance of convincing an arrogant liberal that their head is far up their rectum, but in the case of Jonathan Gatehouse I must at least make a comment.

    Jonathan, you are no very old, so you will be around to eat your idiotic words. I do no expect you will ever admit how misinformed and mislead you are, but you will surely know, eventually how wrong you are.

    You insult conservatives and man others with your suggestions of our ignorance and stupidity.

    Conservatism build and funded America … most liberals do not have jobs that produce wealth, rather they burn it up in drunk sailor fashion on THE EDUCATIONAL INDUSTRY THAT IS EXCLUSIVELY RUN BY LIBERALS …. THAT IS WHERE THE DUMBING DOWN BEGINS … THEN IT ENDS WITH THE OTHER EXCLUSIVELY LIBERAL INDUSTRY … THE MAIN STREAM MEDIA …..

    So Mr. Smarty Pants … who is doing the dumbing down.

    And regarding death panels … can you say ‘government run VA hospitals where vets are dying on fake waiting lists while waiting to get on the real waiting list’ …. who decides that stuff? …. Oh! … a death panel what else could it be? … perhaps a gaggle of waiting list makers who have no idea what they are doing? … or liberals, who love being on committees who know that to get their bonus, the waiting lists must be short … so the panel made the real list short and the fake list long enough to kill vets by the dozens.

    • But they all got their bonuses!

      Please excuse the typos … I failed to edit my previous comment.

    • If your comment is a comedy routine, you better keep your day job, If however, you represent conservative thinking as you claim you do, one can add inane assumptions and bizarre conclusions to the list of conservative ways to dumb down not only Americans, but everyone on earth.

  198. IMHO, a great many are fed up with “experts”. Which is to say, if the “experts”, upon whom we’ve been instructed, generally by governments, to rely upon so much, are so damned smart, then why is our country in such an unending, if not ever increasing, unholy mess? Especially financially and economically?

    Worse, they behold science, specifically and especially that surrounding AGW, becoming religion unto its own in every sense of the word, except for the “God” part, and complete with its own Inquisitors looking to burn all heretics to the faith on the figurative stake of public opinion.

    Given a choice between that sort of shameless rot, and God, it’s a fairly safe bet that people will opt for the latter most of the time. That’s human nature, a reality that eternally confounds the ideological left.

    …from whence it is somewhat apparent this author writes.

    • Science and belief in a divinity are not mutually exclusive, Your conclusion that one has to choose between believing that global warming is real or that man contributes to it and believing in a superior being is a false choice.

  199. God stupefied America so we might more closely follow His authority in all things. We truly don’t give a f if the politicians OR the upper classes send us to hell, because we have Jesus and he’s a get out of hell free card.

    Canada is going to hell because you have no South.

  200. Two terms of Barack Obama. Now we know the answer.

  201. We shouldn’t be so smug up here folks, after all we have a huge population of low information voters just dying to hand the keys of 24 Sussex to Justin.

    • Isn’t that a horrifying prospect, eh?

  202. Mr. Gatehouse is qualified to speak on others’ intellect because he believes everything the IPCC says – for no reason other than it’s the IPCC. That the IPCC is provably corrupt, and its “science” demonstrably false matters not to super-genius Mr. Gatehouse. The IPCC is “Authority” and Mr. Gatehouse, like a good little German, believes what he’s told – because he’s just so goshdarn smart, dontchya know.

    Incidentally, Mr. Gatehouse, “survival of the fittest” is a phrase Darwin never used, because it is a tautology (I’m sure you don’t need to look that up) and in no way describes natural selection. Just thought a Really Smart GuyTM like you would want to know that.

  203. When I see the following quote my heart leaps with joy! There is yet some ray of hope for America despite her dismal education and incompetent president.

    “…When it comes to global warming, only 33 per cent expressed a high degree of confidence that it is “man made,…”

  204. I have to agree with Sandy. The statistics that were tossed into this article, supposedly to demonstrate America’s stupidity, had the opposite effect. I am encouraged. Now if we could only do something to make the leftist intelligentsia wake up, and pull the wool out of their ears, so we can stop wasting money promoting hardline policies based on so-called “settled” science, that are really aimed at nothing more than a massive redistribution of wealth and halting progress.
    Religion is actually too nice of a comparison for the new environmental movement. Cult would be more accurate, and the ultimate sacrificial lamb is rationalism.

    • The massive redistribution of wealth is well underway as it’s flowing upward to the top 20%. As for progress, who knew that destroying the planet on which we rely for our survival was for the betterment of humanity.

  205. Furthermore: This US Memorial Day Remember War Is Murder

    BY GLEN BARRY · MAY 25, 2014, Ecological Internet: We must stop glorifying war murders and their perpetrators, and demobilize globally in order to address the far greater threat of abrupt climate change and ecosystem collapse. Murder has not, nor will it ever, make us free.

    This Memorial Day, as America lionizes the bravery and sacrifice of its soldiers, try if you can to step aside from jingoistic nationalism for a moment and think freely. Recall that stripped of ritual and pomp, war is the killing of other human beings for political and economic gain. America has proven particularly adept, by some estimates being at war all but 20 years of its nearly 240 year history.

    In war brainwashed young men (and now women) of one tribe hunt down and kill the indoctrinated from another tribe to serve the interests of rich old men. It doesn’t matter under the banner of which god, arbitrarily delineated nation, or the rhetoric used; war is murder. Bodies are cut and blown apart, homes destroyed, families ripped asunder, women raped, and the land, water, and air plundered as the wealthy declare a respite from the laws of humanity to further their own enrichment. This is war.

    This is not to suggest that humanity never has to fight to stop the march of one mad man or another, or to stop some over-consuming nation from wantonly stealing resources. We may yet have to fight to overthrow the oil oligarchy’s hold on our economy and destruction of our biosphere.

    The manner in which we glorify soldiers and war – covering up the brutal nature of war, and the profound suffering it causes – does a grave disservice to those killed, those aggrieved who will start the next war, and those who blindly followed orders. Young naïve men go to war believing falsely that a nation can absolve their acts of murder – and remain forever traumatized as a result.

    In this regard there is little exceptional about America except the size of our egos and willingness to kill any and all that get in the way of our over-consumption and delusions of grandeur. We are like Rome, who despite her legions fell because of the rot from within, and we will meet the same or worse fate if we continue to celebrate war and murder.

    Expenditures upon standing armies are obscene. America’s spends over $600 billion a year on war – more than most other major nations’ expenditures combined – a diversion of societal resources that directly murders scores more whose food, shelter, education, and jobs are taken from them to finance the murder of other similarly poor people. It is the poor that provide much of the cannon fodder to the killing machines, their awful task of murdering others ennobled with grand rhetoric. To the victor goes the right to write history, seeking to justify with self-righteous words acts of vicious bloody murder.

    War murder is a business, a growth industry that benefits the military-industrial-congressional complex (how the term was originally conceived by that commie pacifist General Eisenhower), and has propped up Western economies for decades. Rather than using the limited resources of Earth to produce goods and services that meet human and all life’s needs, war-mongers wantonly consume fossil fuels, minerals, food, and human capital to systematically kill other human-beings.

    The cost of one aircraft carrier, a floating city able to rain down death anywhere at will, could bring water systems to the entire world, saving 3,000 children a day from needless death. A few more foregone ships could end poverty as we know it for the 2 billion human beings that live on less than $1.50 a day.

    Until the early 20th century, armies mostly demobilized between conflicts. Now capitalist economies are built upon the systematic stealing of resources, killing those who happen to live near and claim to own our resources and object. The rich liberal democracies (which are in fact neither) must wage perma-war to artificially maintain their high standards of consumption. Ever more grandly, wars are constantly waged under false pretexts and outright lies – look at the Iraq weapons of mass consternation, the Gulf of Tonkin fabrication, and President Obama’s reign of drone terror.

    No amount of jingoism obviates the fact that veterans are murderers and they and their enablers are war criminals. America’s recent decade plus of war has been in violation of the 1996 U.S. War Crimes Act (penalties which can include death), the international Third Geneva Convention of 1949, and the 1987 UN Torture Convention. It is not OK to invade sovereign nations that pose you no threat, to kidnap and torture suspected enemies, to murder remotely with drones at will, or to spy upon and assassinate American citizens.

    And it is not just W, Condi, Rumy, and Bama that are guilty of war crimes. The Uniform Code of Military Justice makes clear soldiers have an obligation and a duty to only obey lawful orders; and indeed, have an obligation to disobey unlawful orders. These include Presidential orders that do not comply with the code, the constitution and international law. Further, it was established by the U.S. at the WW II Nuremberg war trials that “following orders” is not justification for war crimes. Nearly every American that has served in the past decade has been involved in the carrying out illegal acts of murder under the constitution and international law.

    The oil oligarchy are the latest rulers to indoctrinate American young men and women to go forth to strange and exotic new lands and kill the people that hold our resources. At one time after WWII America took the lead in disarmament and establishment of international law to avoid war. Now since we were hit by a small band of criminal terrorists, we feel justified in waging perma-war.

    Over a million people, mostly innocents, have been murdered to avenge the few thousand tragically lost on 9/11. Has America gotten revenge yet and can the perma-war stop? It is time to regain our humanity and take some calculated risk to end war murders.

    And let’s push back against the creepy Orwellian justification for America’s war binge. We are not hated for our freedom, and you can’t wage war on terrorism (which is a tactic). Mostly we are hated because we have occupied holy lands of other peoples, we arrogantly presume that all Earth’s resources are our own, and we speak grandly and pompously of liberty and opportunity as we deny it to others.

    President Barack Obama’s drone perma-war is terrorism, traumatizing innocent populations, and murdering thousands. It is well past time for the U.S. to stop drone terrorism worldwide, to subject our war-making to the International Court of Justice like most other natio