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Taft
Sep 2, 2003, 10:03 AM
Does anyone else find the general populace's lack of education appalling? I find the average American's understanding of our system of government especially horrid.

As an example, in a recent poll, 49% of Americans thought that our first amendment protections given by the 1st ammendment go too far. And only 2% could name the five categories of protections the first ammendment offers: freedom of speech, religion, press, assembly and petition.

If people don't even know what their freedoms are, or think the constitution is giving them too much freedom, how can we expect people to make intelligent choices about elected officials and decisive policy issues.

I mean, even though our government was set up to prevent a direct democracy, the government today is very much a direct democracy. With polls controlling every executive action, lobbying shaping the way congress votes, and referrendums shaping state agendas and legislation, we are very much a direct democracy.

And we should trust this direct democracy with people who think we should be giving up our first ammendment rights and don't even know what those rights are????

Lord save us.

Taft

mactastic
Sep 2, 2003, 10:36 AM
And 2/3's of them can't even name one of the democratic candidates for president without prompting. But I bet most of them could tell you who the most recent American Idol was...:rolleyes:

tazo
Sep 2, 2003, 11:10 AM
All I can say is that hopefully the people who understand what is going on will be the people voting in these 'polls'.

I know what the bill of rights contains and I am only a teenager; it saddens me to think that an adult would not know them.

Than again some adults actually think American Idol is cool :rolleyes:

mcrain
Sep 2, 2003, 11:13 AM
While I agree with you, I have to point out that even the people who claim to know a lot (especially politicians) don't really know all that much. For example, (not to pick on you Taft), the first amendment enumerates those protections, but the SC has held that the freedom of press is not a seperate protection, and is merely a category of freedom of speech (b/c there is no way for the court ot define press).

Sayhey
Sep 2, 2003, 11:31 AM
Originally posted by mactastic
And 2/3's of them can't even name one of the democratic candidates for president without prompting. But I bet most of them could tell you who the most recent American Idol was...:rolleyes:

Alright I give - who was the "most recent American Idol"? I know it was one of those reality shows, right? But I hate 'em and never watch.

The lack of understanding of our own government is appalling. I don't know what is the standard number of civics courses that are required in middle and high school, but it should be raised. If the 2000 election doesn't tell you your vote and educated participation is important then nothing will.

pseudobrit
Sep 2, 2003, 11:32 AM
Originally posted by tazo
Than again some adults actually think American Idol is cool :rolleyes:

What's scarier is that some adults think war is cool.

mactastic
Sep 2, 2003, 11:42 AM
Plus we tend not to do well in geography either. Most people couldn't find Iraq on an unlabled map. Let alone Israel, Afghanistan, or Indonesia. Heck, most would probably have trouble finding France without help.

zimv20
Sep 2, 2003, 12:04 PM
http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2002/11/20/national/main530099.shtml

about a National Geographic Society survey:

On a world map young Americans could find only seven of sixteen countries on a quiz. Many could not pinpoint specific states.

Only about one in seven 13 percent of Americans between the ages of 18 and 24, the prime age for military warriors, could find Iraq. The score was the same for Iran, an Iraqi neighbor.


Young people are more likely to locate CBS' "Survivor" island than can find Afghanistan, Iraq, or New Jersey.


Only 51 percent could find New York, the nation's third most populous state.


Only 89 percent of the Americans surveyed could find their own country on the map.


On a world map, Americans could find on average only seven of 16 countries in the quiz. Swedes could find an average of 13 of the 16 countries. Germans and Italians were next, with an average of 12 each.

Taft
Sep 2, 2003, 12:27 PM
Originally posted by mcrain
While I agree with you, I have to point out that even the people who claim to know a lot (especially politicians) don't really know all that much. For example, (not to pick on you Taft), the first amendment enumerates those protections, but the SC has held that the freedom of press is not a seperate protection, and is merely a category of freedom of speech (b/c there is no way for the court ot define press).

Did you just call my momma fat?!?!?!?!

j/k :D

I take your point, but those kind of more granular details are usually brought up in discussions of more general rights. I just wonder if those kinds of conversations are even happening.

I mean, my civics clas in high school covered the bill of rights extensively (even the SC rulings surrounding them, to an extent). But I wonder how many of those in my class remember any of it. I doubt many would. And thats really the point: people, more often than not, JUST DON'T CARE!! They don't care enough to learn about our government. They don't even care enough to want to DISCUSS issues in most cases (MacRumors may not be the most politically relevant thing happening these days, but at least we are here hashing it out, thinking about politics, even learning...just CARING!).

I guess the reason I posted this tread was to air my frustrations with the current structure of our government. The Modern Age has brought about a situation which was never intended: the general populace/small groups have too much direct control over governmental operations. And when the general populace is clueless and the small groups have only their own interests in mind, don't you think its time for a change?

Taft

zimv20
Sep 2, 2003, 12:39 PM
Originally posted by Taft
when the general populace is clueless and the small groups have only their own interests in mind, don't you think its time for a change?


indeed. but other than getting the populace to give a crap about real issues, i can't think of a solution.

my concern is that many voters seem to respond to two things: fear and greed. and the GOP has become very adept at pandering to those emotions.

mactastic
Sep 2, 2003, 12:47 PM
Originally posted by zimv20
indeed. but other than getting the populace to give a crap about real issues, i can't think of a solution.

my concern is that many voters seem to respond to two things: fear and greed. and the GOP has become very adept at pandering to those emotions.

Dems pander to those same fears as well. Medicare cuts are brought out to scare older voters to the polls just as an example, and while the repubs may speak to the greed of the masses, the dems play on those same fears in reverse, that the rich have it all. You are correct though, the republican party has gotten better at playing to those fears than dems have been.

Pinto
Sep 2, 2003, 03:56 PM
It is in the interest of both the Government and big business to keep the general population ignorant of the world and what is going on around them.

People whose don't read newspapers and whose only interest in the TV is based around American Idol or Oprah or that Jerry Springer @#$@, aren't going to ask to many questions about politics or corporate scandals.

One of my favorite TV shows is Seinfeld, the "show about nothing". The funny thing is that almost all the TV coming out of the US is about nothing.

Keep the people interested in nothing and they wont ask awkward questions about whats really going on.

buddha
Sep 2, 2003, 04:25 PM
Originally posted by Taft

As an example, in a recent poll, 49% of Americans thought that our first amendment protections given by the 1st ammendment go too far. And only 2% could name the five categories of protections the first ammendment offers: freedom of speech, religion, press, assembly and petition.

If people don't even know what their freedoms are, or think the constitution is giving them too much freedom, how can we expect people to make intelligent choices about elected officials and decisive policy issues.

Lord save us.

Taft

First point, you essentially state that because individuals disagree with the level of freedoms granted by the Constitution (via some fun interpretation) that they are ignorant/stupid. I suppose one can argue "stupid" could apply as it can be seen as an opinion about the relative worth of their opinion. However, the logical connection between an individual's opinion and their relative knowledge/intelligence is tenuous at best. If you extend your thinking, you would advocate that people should be able to incite violence between it should be protected by the 1st. You would also advocate that slander/libel laws be stricken as they restrict our freedom. I'm not arguing with your opinion of the relative worth of the freedoms we have, but as a logical argument, you are incorrect.

Secondly, in a later post your wrote about how the goverment is controlled by "general public/small groups". I'm not quite sure what you mean. Together, they are an oxymoron. Perhaps you meant that both heavily influence politics, but negatively while instead you wish for an educated moderate sized electorate? Of course, I'm sure we would all prefer an intelligent, educated general public... but I also wish to be Hugh Heifner...

That is ole

Taft
Sep 2, 2003, 06:02 PM
Originally posted by buddha
First point, you essentially state that because individuals disagree with the level of freedoms granted by the Constitution (via some fun interpretation) that they are ignorant/stupid. I suppose one can argue "stupid" could apply as it can be seen as an opinion about the relative worth of their opinion. However, the logical connection between an individual's opinion and their relative knowledge/intelligence is tenuous at best.

You are, of course, right. That is, if you make the assumption that the 49% of people who answered yes to the poll question were basing that on an informed or reasonable arguments. On the basis that 2% don't even know what the freedoms granted by the 1st amendment are (THIS is indisputably ignorant), I deem that assumption unreasonable. You may disagree, but to me, it is a strong indication that the group formed their opinion out of ignorance.

I cannot, however, state conclusively that MY assumptions are true. It would have been very interesting to hear people's opinion of WHY they think the first ammendment is too far reaching. But do you really think the majority would have had an intelligent response? "Because" doesn't count.

But you are going to have to clarify, because these statements (and the ones quoted next) make no sense to me. I think you are trying to there is no link between an opinion on a specific topic and their general knowledge. But, surprise, suprise, I think YOU are wrong.

You are correct that there is not a 1:1 correlation between a specific opinion and general knowledge. But a single opinion or poll can be an INDICATOR to a more general trend. This is especially true when talking about not just opinions, but other poll data. And remember, we are talking about a specific area of knowledge here, not general knowledge. We are talking about knowledge of our system of government and the importance of one of our most cherished laws.

Lets say I conducted a poll that showed 75% of all people polled thought that Beethoven was overrated as a musician. Also, only 5% of people could name or recognize a single Beethoven piece. Now, collecting the opinions of music historians, contemporary artists, etc. we would likely come to the conclusion that Beethoven wasn't overrated. This, from a group of people far more knowledgable about Beethoven, his music and his contribution to the world of music. Given this data, would you say that the general population was ignorant about Beethoven's work and contributions to music?

We are talking about an opinion and quiz of sorts. The population flunked the quiz (98% got it wrong) and, IMO, formed a very stupid opinion. In the realm of government, I'd say it correlates very highly with the general populations level of knowledge about our government.

If you extend your thinking, you would advocate that people should be able to incite violence between it should be protected by the 1st. You would also advocate that slander/libel laws be stricken as they restrict our freedom. I'm not arguing with your opinion of the relative worth of the freedoms we have, but as a logical argument, you are incorrect.


I AM assigning worth to agreeing with the first ammendment, but that doesn't equate to assigning worth to COMPLETELY unrestricted freedom of expression. You formed THAT assumption with a complete ignorance of my other opinions and by forgetting about the rest of the constitution and its ammendments which do restrict your freedoms simply by protecting other people's rights.

Now, I suppose its possible that 49% of Americans responding to the poll thought that the pollster meant to say, "standing on its own and forgetting about the rest of the constitution, do you think the first ammendment gives too much freedom?" With the question framed as such, even I would have said yes. I consider this highly unlikely, however.



Secondly, in a later post your wrote about how the goverment is controlled by "general public/small groups". I'm not quite sure what you mean. Together, they are an oxymoron. Perhaps you meant that both heavily influence politics, but negatively while instead you wish for an educated moderate sized electorate? Of course, I'm sure we would all prefer an intelligent, educated general public... but I also wish to be Hugh Heifner...

That is ole

I'm not sure which peice you are commenting on here. I may have been a little too light on the point here.

What I was asserting is that the Modern Age, with its instant polls and unprecidented level of media saturation, has changed the way our government does business. These polls allow very direct control over our government by its citizens. Take the president, for example. He can have instant access to poll data, which can show him a clear path to re-election: pander to the opinion of those that will vote for me. Other areas where this can happen is in lobbying and referendums, which allow interested groups a certain amount of direct control over the legislative branches.

Now, certain groups benifit from certain methods of the direct democracy. The "general populace" benifits most from poll data. The population is polled to develop a "most popular opinion" and an elected official can act on that; FORGET WHATS RIGHT OR WRONG OR BEST FOR THE NATION! Businesses and special interest groups benifit most from lobbying and referendums. With lobbying, a group (even a completely unintelligent group) has the power to literally buy the ear of an elected official. With referendums in a place like California, a small group can literallly change the laws. "Less taxes AND more spending! Its a freakin' utopia!"

So, yes, there are two issues at work here. But there is also a link between ignorance and the pitfalls of direct democracy. There is also a link between self-interest and the pitfalls of a direct democracy. The point being, in a direct democracy, the whole system is more sensitive to the whims of people who don't have the best interests of the system in mind when making their decisions. And they can do this out of either self-interest OR stupidity.

A less direct democracy protects the system from the disinterested hands of the general population and from the hands of the self-serving groups.

Taft

zimv20
Sep 2, 2003, 06:06 PM
shortly after 9/11, i saw a number of local news stories where people at (the very busy chicago) o'hare airport were standing in long lines for security.

in every single one of these stories, someone in line said they were happy to wait in a longer line for more security, then somehow associated line-wait times w/ freedoms.

"giving up your freedom to wait in a short line?" i though. "you don't even know what freedom is."

mactastic
Sep 2, 2003, 06:38 PM
Originally posted by zimv20
in every single one of these stories, someone in line said they were happy to wait in a longer line for more security, then somehow associated line-wait times w/ freedoms.


So the longer the line is at the DMV the free-er I am? :D :p ;)

tazo
Sep 2, 2003, 08:07 PM
Originally posted by pseudobrit
What's scarier is that some adults think war is cool.

I dont think that was necessary.

Durandal7
Sep 2, 2003, 08:57 PM
America will lose it's position as a superpower within the next three decades due to:
1) The increasing stupidity and apathy of the populace.
2) The "out-sourcing" of manufacturing and IT jobs to Asia.
3) The economic and military might that China is amassing.

Thanatoast
Sep 2, 2003, 11:50 PM
Appalling lack of education is right. Appalling lack of concern over the appalling lack of education is also right.

I think that if you can't name the rights you're voting to take away, you shouldn't be allowed to vote to take them away from me.

11% of Americans can't find the US on a map!?!? WTF? I mean, I thought geography was useless when I took it but come on people, please. I now know geography is important and wish I knew it better than I do. Wish they woulda drilled it into me even more so than they did.

Originally posted by tazo
I dont think that was necessary.
But was it untrue?

I think America will last longer than 30 years, but we will do it by being parasites (like we're starting to now). It will take a major adjustment in the attitude of the general populace to turn the tide.

My suggestion is to ban television. I can't think of anything that creates more apathy, greed and ignorance than tv. Ugh.

buddha
Sep 3, 2003, 08:16 AM
Originally posted by Taft
You are, of course, right. That is, if you make the assumption that the 49% of people who answered yes to the poll question were basing that on an informed or reasonable arguments. On the basis that 2% don't even know what the freedoms granted by the 1st amendment are (THIS is indisputably ignorant), I deem that assumption unreasonable. You may disagree, but to me, it is a strong indication that the group formed their opinion out of ignorance.



Just going by the numbers you have here, there is one problem with this argument. You assume that those who do not know what freedoms are granted by the 1st are also those who think that the freedoms being granted go to far. Why? After all, assuming no "I don't know" individuals, 51% said they didn't think the freedoms went too far. Could they not be just as, or even more, ignorant and are simply stating some basic tenent without thought or knowledge?

Originally posted by Taft

But you are going to have to clarify, because these statements (and the ones quoted next) make no sense to me. I think you are trying to there is no link between an opinion on a specific topic and their general knowledge. But, surprise, suprise, I think YOU are wrong.


In general I agree that there is a connection between the validity of an opinion and the relative knowledge of its creator. However, in some areas, I do not think one needs to have great knowledge to be able to understand the basic idea and form a valid opinion. Perhaps I am being too optimistic, but I think, in general, people understand the principles at work here (as well as the general public is to understand anything).


I AM assigning worth to agreeing with the first ammendment, but that doesn't equate to assigning worth to COMPLETELY unrestricted freedom of expression. You formed THAT assumption with a complete ignorance of my other opinions and by forgetting about the rest of the constitution and its ammendments which do restrict your freedoms simply by protecting other people's rights.


As I don't see what you quoted, I'm assuming you are attacking my extension of your argument. What makes the above statement any different from what I was arguing in support of those who claim the freedoms went too far. You admit that you would not approve of unrestricted freedom. Why are those who think that freedoms (in abstract) should be more restricted than you ignorant fools? Nothing you have stated here shows me that those who would decrease freedom are somehow ignorant. You assume they are ignorant based on your own self-evaluation that you are intelligent (and no, this is not meant as a pot shot at you in any way) and that you would not decrease freedoms. Sorry, but that logically doesn't pan out.

As to your comment on the power of polls and such things as initiatives, I partly agree and partly disagree.

I think that polls give the politicians some frame of reference to the will of the people. However, I do not agree that it is as influential as you think. Polls can be skewed by the way they are written. Policitians can spin their messages and their legislation in such ways as they appear to be in line with "public opinion". Not says polls don't do any damage to the ability of politicians to think about overall welfare, but I don't seem to think it is as poisonous as you imply.

As to initiatives; like any tool, it can be used well or stupidly. The state that I grew up in does have an initiative device to put referendums and such on the ballot, however I have yet to see it abused. It is rarely used, and generally when it is used, it appears (to me) to be done reasonably. However, I do think that in California it has made shambles of their affairs. Initiatives are only good for very basic, principled issues. Attempting to pass health care legislation through such a mechanism will almost inevitably result in pain and suffering for all.

shadowfax
Sep 3, 2003, 08:58 AM
yeah... lack of education makes for fun little side trips on the Jay Leno show.

apart from that, i must admit, i don't believe in universal suffrage anymore, myself. there should be a minimum standard of education before we let people get their hands on a ballot...

luckily, most people who are that stupid can't figure out how to vote, or bring themselves to care.

pseudobrit
Sep 3, 2003, 05:17 PM
Originally posted by tazo
I dont think that was necessary.

Why? Do you think war is cool?

shadowfax
Sep 3, 2003, 05:21 PM
Originally posted by pseudobrit
Why? Do you think war is cool? I think it's cool. usually, it's probably downright cold--cold-blooded, anyway. and if you're fighting in a place like Iraq, it's probably pretty ****ing hot...

Durandal7
Sep 3, 2003, 05:30 PM
I have an idea! Let's get off-topic and argue about Iraq until someone brings up the 2000 election, then we can argue about that!

pseudobrit
Sep 3, 2003, 05:38 PM
Originally posted by Durandal7
I have an idea! Let's get off-topic and argue about Iraq until someone brings up the 2000 election, then we can argue about that!

Yeah, God forbid you'd go offtopic arguing about war and politics in the Political Discussions & War Discussion forum.

mactastic
Sep 3, 2003, 05:40 PM
Originally posted by pseudobrit
Yeah, God forbid you'd go offtopic arguing about war and politics in the Political Discussions & War Discussion forum.

No that never happens! Say it isn't so!:D

XnavxeMiyyep
Sep 3, 2003, 05:40 PM
Originally posted by Thanatoast
My suggestion is to ban television. I can't think of anything that creates more apathy, greed and ignorance than tv. Ugh. I don't watch much television(in fact, I don't have cable, and the only show I watch is the Simpsons), but saying that it should be banned is violating the rights which you say TV is making people ignorant. I agree that TV doesn't have many high quality shows, but it is protected by freedom of speech.

Thanatoast
Sep 4, 2003, 08:42 PM
Don't go pointing out my own inconsistencies to me, you ignorant television-watching heathen! ;)

mcrain
Sep 5, 2003, 02:09 PM
Actually, religion has the potential to create far more apathy, greed and ignorance than TV...

(edit) don't get me wrong, I go to church, and i believe what I believe, but it has the potential to be used for terrible things... just look at some of the fatwas coming out of the middle east... the crusades... etc...

shadowfax
Sep 5, 2003, 02:39 PM
Originally posted by mcrain
Actually, religion has the potential to create far more apathy, greed and ignorance than TV...

(edit) don't get me wrong, I go to church, and i believe what I believe, but it has the potential to be used for terrible things... just look at some of the fatwas coming out of the middle east... the crusades... etc... hmm. i agree with you that religion can create a great deal of apathy, but i see no reason to believe that it can create "far more." for one thing, we haven't seen the limits of the apathy that TV can create, and i think it's difficult to really quantify at all.

so i would just bill TV and religion as two media/philosophies that can confuse people into great evil.