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From the Archives | The cult of ignorance in the United States: Anti-intellectualism and the "dumbing down" of America

  • The current trend of increasing anti-intellectualism now establishing itself in politics and business leadership, and supported by a declining education system should be a cause for concern for leaders and the general population, one that needs to be addressed now.
  • Related: Donald Trump Has Given the United States a Great Gift

Ray Williams, Psychology Today

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https://www.sott.net/image/s15/304985/medium/t6PCzNK.jpgSat, 07 Jun 2014 | There is a growing and disturbing trend of anti-intellectual elitism in American culture. It's the dismissal of science, the arts, and humanities and their replacement by entertainment, self-righteousness, ignorance, and deliberate gullibility

Susan Jacoby, author of The Age of American Unreason, says in an article in the Washington Post, "Dumbness, to paraphrase the late senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, has been steadily defined downward for several decades, by a combination of heretofore irresistible forces. These include the triumph of video culture over print culture; a disjunction between Americans' rising level of formal education and their shaky grasp of basic geography, science and history; and the fusion of anti-rationalism with anti-intellectualism." 

Ray Williams is President of Ray Williams Associates, a firm based in Vancouver, providing executive coaching and professional speaking services. 

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Donald Trump Has Given the United States a Great Gift, Bill C. Davis, Common Dreams

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  • What he has drawn to the surface are various toxins isolated in a boil ready to burst.
  • Related: What Trump protesters can learn from the civil rights movement

 

Guide to Understanding Your Cable Bill

  • Why are loyal long-time cable customers the ones paying more?
  • Have you checked out your monthly bill lately?

Kate Cox, Consumerist.org

Submitted by Evergreene Digest Contributing Editor Mike Steigerwald.

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http://www.consumerreports.org/content/dam/cro/news_articles/Electronics/CR-Electronics-Inline-Understanding-Your-Cable-Bill-05-16.jpg May 19, 2016 | Over the last few months, our colleagues at Consumerist have reviewed cable and internet service bills for seven of the nation’s largest providers in an attempt to make sense of all those fees and charges. Here's what they learned from these bills covering cable, satellite, and fiber customers from Connecticut to California.

1. Everyone Is Nickel-and-diming Their Customers, Some More Than Others

The fees! The fees are everywhere!

As a rule of thumb, the collection of taxes, fees, and surcharges above the stated subscription price ranged from about 15% to 30% of any given customer’s total bill (including bills we looked at but didn’t publish).

Kate Cox, Reporting for Consumerist.org. Consumerist is an independent source of consumer news and information published by Consumer Media LLC, a not-for-profit subsidiary of Consumer Reports. Our mission is to help consumers understand, engage with, and discuss the systems and forces that influence the marketplace, so that we, as consumers, can all make better, more informed decisions.

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Conspiracy Theories, Disinformation Agents and the CIA

“Conspiracy theory’ is a term that strikes fear and anxiety in the hearts of most every public figure, particularly journalists and academics. Since the 1960s the label has become a disciplinary device that has been overwhelmingly effective in defining certain events as off limits to inquiry or debate. Especially in the United States, raising legitimate questions about dubious official narratives destined to inform public opinion (and thereby public policy) is a major thought crime that must be cauterized from the public psyche at all costs … . CIA Document 1035-960 played a definitive role in making the ‘conspiracy theory’ term a weapon to be wielded against almost any individual or group calling the government’s increasingly clandestine programs and activities into question.” – From CIA Document 1035-960

Gary G. Kohls, Duty to Warn

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http://evergreenedigest.org/sites/evergreenedigest.org/files/Politics-%20Truth%20vs.%20Propaganda.jpg May 10, 2016 | It wasn’t very many years after the world-wide web became operational that it was contaminated by secret disinformation agencies and also by individuals that were eventually called internet trolls. Trolls (defined below) began interjecting themselves – uninvited and unwanted - into otherwise useful and productive conversations involving web-groups of like-minded individuals.

 

These trolls, intent on scurrilously confusing various website commenters, seemed to delight in angering up certain online groups. Typically, a lot of time and effort was wasted in such fake arguments before members of the group finally realized that they had been ambushed by a disinformation agent.

Many folks might recall how promising were the prospects for the internet’s new method of communication that was affordable, quick and paperless. Many envisioned an internet that was “without commercial interruptions” and a way to promote healthy interactions between well-meaning people of different races, religions, politics, commitments, lifestyles and cultures.

Gary G. Kohls is a retired physician who writes about issues of war, peace, justice, mental health and nonviolence and feels it is important to mix religion and non-partisan politics. 

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Our gun myths are all wrong: The real history behind the Second Amendment clichés that have sustained our lethal gun culture

America was born with a unique bond to gun culture, some would have you believe. They're peddling bad history.

Pamela Haag, Salon

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http://media.salon.com/2016/04/john_wayne_true_grit-620x412.jpg John Wayne in "True Grit"

Excerpted from "The Gunning of America: Business and the Making of American Gun Culture"

Saturday, Apr 30, 2016 | An abridged history of the American gun culture, told from legend and popular memory, might go like this: We were born a gun culture. Americans have an exceptional, unique, and timeless relationship to guns, starting with the militias of the Revolutionary War, and it developed on its own from there. Some celebrate and some condemn this relationship, but it is in either case unique. Guns have long been a commonplace part of American life, which is why guns pretty much sell themselves. The Second Amendment, ubiquitous to contemporary gun politics, was a prominent presence historically and is a source of the gun’s unique stature, while the idea of gun control is more recent. The American gun story is about civilians and individual citizens, and they are its heroes or its villains—the frontiersman, the Daniel Boone “long hunter” who trekked far into the wilderness alone, the citizen-patriot militiaman, the guiltily valorized outlaw, and the gunslinger. The gun’s mystique was forged most vividly on the violent western frontier of the 1800s, and this mystique is about individualism: guns protect citizens against overzealous government infringement of liberties; they protect freedom and self-determination.

  http://evergreenedigest.org/sites/evergreenedigest.org/files/Pamela%20Haag%20%7C%20Gunning%20of%20America%20cover%20illus.jpgThis book tells the story of American guns from the perspective of what the gun was—in essence, an object, produced by businesses, to be sold. The story that highlights the Second Amendment, frontiersmen, militias, and the desires and character of the American gun owner is not to be found in the pages of this book. Or, more accurately, my work deliberately skews the story of the gun in another direction: it focuses on the missing element of the gun culture rather than reworking the familiar themes. As such, it has different characters, motivations, plot twists, highlights, and timelines, and all of these elements call into question the gun clichés that animate contemporary politics.

Pamela Haag holds a Ph.D. in history from Yale University. Her work on a diverse range of topics has appeared in many venues such as American Scholar, NPR, Slate, and the Times (London).

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Chris Hedges | The Socialist Alternative

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  • “My biggest fear is that there could be an abdication of responsibility by the leadership of the left to provide an alternative,” Socialist Seattle City Council member Kshama Sawant said. “We can’t react to events. We have to shape events. We need a party of the 99 percent.”
  • Related: Bernie Sanders Is No Eugene Debs

Chris Hedges, Truthdig

http://www.truthdig.com/images/eartothegrounduploads/kshamahedges5_590.jpg Seattle City Council member Kshama Sawant responds to President Obama’s State of the Union address in January. (Socialist Alternative / YouTube)

May 1, 2016 | The disintegration of the ruling political parties, along with the discrediting of the established political and economic elites, presage radical change. This change may come from the right. It may result in a frightening proto-fascism. If it is to come from the left it must be pushed forward by dogged activists and citizens who are willing to accept that stepping outside the system will mean surrendering all hope of power for perhaps a decade. To continue to engage in establishment politics, especially attempting to work within the Democratic Party, will further empower corporate capitalism and extinguish what remains of our democracy.

Willingly entering the political wilderness requires a vision that is worth sacrificing and fighting to achieve. It means that some of those who begin the revolution against corporate capitalism will not live to see its culmination. It will mean marginalization, harassment, persecution, prison and, if the movement becomes effective, state violence. History has taught us that. But given the alternative—the planet’s ecosystem destroyed by the fossil fuel and the animal agriculture industries, greater pillaging by corporate oligarchs and the rise of a global security and surveillance system that takes from us all pretense of liberty—the battle is worth it.

Chris Hedges, a weekly columnist for Truthdig, is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist who has reported from more than 50 countries, specializing in American politics and society. 

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http://evergreenedigest.org/sites/evergreenedigest.org/files/Bernie%20Sanders%20%26%20Eugene%20Debs_0.jpgBernie Sanders Is No Eugene Debs, Howie Hawkins, Socialist Worker

  • Progressives in the Democratic Party are going to need a Plan B after Bernie Sanders throws his support to Clinton in about 10 months, after the March primaries seal the nomination for her. We should be building Plan B now.
  • Bernie Sanders for President? Why Not Try a Real Socialist for a Change? 

 

Let’s Stop Referring to Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault as ‘Women’s Issues’

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  • We all benefit when responsible men stand in their communities as shining examples of healthy and respectful masculinity.
  • Related: “Dear Kim. Please stop using the term ’empowerment’ when you really mean ‘marketing’.” 

Linda A. Seabrook and Quentin Walcott, Huffington Post

http://i.huffpost.com/gen/4267860/images/n-GROUP-OF-MEN-628x314.jpg George Doyle via Getty Images 

04/28/2016 | From reproductive rights to paid family leave to sexual and domestic violence, our society neatly categorizes issues where women bear the brunt of the burden as “women’s issues,” turning them into problems for women and women’s rights advocates alone to solve. But this framing couldn’t be more wrong, and only serves to reinforce the practice of victim blaming that is so pervasive in our society.

As we close another Sexual Assault Awareness Month, we can’t help but wonder — where are the voices of the men? Yes, women are overwhelmingly victims of domestic violence, but men are overwhelmingly perpetrators. It comes down to male behavior and conditioning, so preventing and addressing violence requires men to be engaged in this issue, and take action as well. And breaking the cycle of violence starts with addressing how boys are conditioned to model “male” behavior and attitudes.

Linda A. Seabrook, General Counsel, Futures Without Violence
Quentin Walcott, Co-Executive Director, CONNECT-NYC

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http://cdn.mamamia.com.au/wp/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/31132854/kim-kardashian-empowerment-jackie-600x315.jpg “Dear Kim. Please stop using the term ’empowerment’ when you really mean ‘marketing’.” Jacqueline Lunn, Mama Mia

That’s not empowerment. That’s two, very privileged, mean girls in a bathroom taking pictures of themselves and giving the world the finger.

Full story ... 

 

We let the idiots take the wheel: Donald Trump, Fox News and how we let our democracy rot.

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  • Disgraceful state of politics is tied to collapse of education. Philistines are marching, swarming Trump rallies.
  • Related: Special Project | The Dumbing Down of American Politics

David Masciotra, Salon / AlterNet 

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http://www.alternet.org/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/24224402311_b5fdc2769e_z.jpg Photo Credit: Darron Birgenheier/Flicker CC

Apr 12, 2016 | It is easy in a country dedicated to a megalomaniacal style of self-praise to grow tired of all the parades, hymns, and maudlin speeches about the wisdom of the “founding fathers.” Compounding the frustration is that many of their most valuable insights are now forbidden from entry into public school curriculums and cultural discourse. As the word “elitist” continues to undergo unfair demonization, no one dare utter that the framers of the United States Constitution were, themselves, elitists. They were terrified of what damage the public might inflict upon their invention. Benjamin Franklin even went so far as to predict that “the people shall become so corrupted as to need Despotic Government, being incapable of any other.”

Thomas Jefferson, a more democratic thinker, called information the “currency of democracy.” It would appear that large parts of America are all but bankrupt, suffering the consequences of a long liquidation at the hands of a sensationalistic media, but most of all, a broken education system. 

David Masciotra is the author of Mellencamp: American Troubadour (University Press of Kentucky). He has also written for Salon, the Atlantic and the Los Angeles Review of Books.

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Related:

http://evergreenedigest.org/sites/evergreenedigest.org/files/Paul%20Combs%20%7C%20American%20Electorate-%20A%20Serious%20Thinker%3F%20copy.jpgSpecial Project | The Dumbing Down of American Politics, Week of October 6, 2013, David Culver, Ed., Evergreene Digest

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The Arrogant Ignorance of the 'Well-Educated'

To be “well-educated” is not merely ignorance, it is the arrogance of ignorance.

Joseph Pearce, Intellectual Takeout

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http://www.intellectualtakeout.org/sites/ito/files/girl_in_car.jpgMarch 29, 2016 | On more than one occasion my essays for The Imaginative Conservative have been inspired by bumper stickers. Many moons ago, for instance, I wrote “The Wisdom and Wickedness of Women” in response to seeing a bumper sticker declaring that “Well Behaved Women Do Not Make History.” Recently, sitting in traffic, I saw this very same bumper sticker on the car in front of me, beside another which declared the following: “What you call the Liberal Elite, we call being well-educated.” The juxtaposition of these two stickers, carefully selected by the car’s owner to teach me a lesson, set me thinking. I might even say that it taught me a valuable lesson, though not the lesson that my neighbor in the car in front of me meant to teach me.

Let’s take the second bumper sticker first. Clearly designed to offend other motorists, it is supremely supercilious and extremely arrogant. We, the average Joe, whoever we may be, are not as “well-educated” as the royal “we” driving the car in front of us. This pompous “we,” who is presumably a she, presumes that anyone who disagrees with her is poorly educated, whereas she, of course, is well-educated. If we were as well-educated as she, we would agree with her.

Joseph Pearce is an English-born writer, and as of 2014 Director of the Center for Faith and Culture at Aquinas College in Nashville, Tennessee.

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