Idiot America: How Stupidity Became a Virtue in the Land of the Free by Charles P. Pierce
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
Pierce says he appreciates that America is a place where every crank can show whatever wild theory and God bless him if he finds a following. The problem is it seems the cranks are running the country and not out on the street corner.
The way this happens is the 3 Great Premises of Idiot America that the masses seem to eat up
1: Any theory is valid if it sells books, soaks up ratings, or otherwise moves units.
2: Anything can be true if someone says it loudly enough.
3: Fact is that which enough people believe. Truth is determined by how fervently they believe it.
This would be fine for the marketplace of ideas if there was a balanced, intelligent body around to challenge the wild eyed ones when the approached governing America. That way any actual ingenious idea would get through. BUT, in today's politics the elected representatives ARE the cranks and any expert with well researched thought out data is left in the dust because the there premises trump balanced reasoning.
The main examples are Biblical Creationism creeping into school science class cloaked as Intelligent Design, Denying Global Warming, and The Terri Shiavo showboating Republicans forced on America.
I say forced, but the thing is all these people are elected idiots (I'm a “life is complicated and there are many sides to each story” kind of guy, BUT anybody who falls on the non-science side of the above issues is an Idiot. Maybe they are wonderful people at home, but on these counts...). As I was saying, for the most part he blames the politicians but WE the PEOPLE elected these bozos so POGO's quote was especially prescient "We have met the enemy... and he is us" . OR maybe people in general have always been idiots.
I didn't realize that it was under Reagan that dropping regulations in radio basically setup the nation of the saturation of conservative talk radio. There used to be this thing call the fairness doctrine where any view on radio or TV required the station to offer opposing views. What a quaint idea. Being fair about the issues. That would never fly now.
In 2003, the psychologist Paul Ginnetty examined this dynamic in Newsday, focusing on Limbaugh’s show but analyzing the appeal of the entire genre, what he called “the potent narcotic of reassuring simplicity.” (pp. 109).
He goes on how today politics requires not determining the best ideas but rather the best narrative.
The apotheosis of the modern novelized presidency was that of Ronald Reagan. (p. 234).
He offers up James Madison as the intelligent founding father we really should be emulating. But from the little reading I've done of that era, for all the wisdom of those chaps, it really could have gone off in another direction since I wonder, but don't know, if there were probably a fair share of cranks in the continental congress at the time.
We've chosen up sides on everything, fashioning our public lives as though we were making up a fantasy baseball team. First (p. 261)
After pulling together notes for this review I a bit depressed, and I promised myself to cut back on the Vino so it will be a tough night.
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