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Ch. 1 - The Way We Live Now: Just Us Folks 
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Beyond Genius

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DWill said I couldn't disagree with her in the second passage, though the connection with anti-intellectualism doesn't jump out at me...

I think you're referring to the quote that begins "The denigration of fairness.." above. Jacoby makes a good point that intellectuals must be reasonably open minded towards new information. In contrast, most "talking heads" that we see on TV are single minded, completely unable to entertain let alone respect a differing opinion. On the other hand, open mindedness can be taken too far.

I'm starting to think of a dynamic where the common man sees intellectuals as so open that they lack common sense on one end and the typical modern obdurate partisan on the other end. Jacoby would probably say both are anti-intellectual.



Fri Apr 04, 2008 6:24 pm
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Mr. Pessimistic wrote:
[I. Mass Media is a quick fix of parasitic sound bites that imparts a semblence of knowledge in the host organism.
This 'begs the question': What can we do about it?
Mr. P.


The easiest thing would be not to listen to/watch these organs! Read books, the NY Times, The Atlantic, etc., watch some of the PBS shows like Frontline. We get what we appear to demand, we are only pandered to if we respond to pandering.

Ophelia:
"Vaclav Havel is President of Czechoslovakia.
Arpad Gonz is President of Hungary.
Andre Malraux was Minister of Culture in France from 1959 to 1969. "

Good point!
Will



Sat Apr 05, 2008 7:58 am
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Beyond Genius

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I believe Woodrow Wilson could be considered a "modern" (or at least not a founding father) intellectual President . He was a professor, then the President of Princeton University. However, I just checked the index and Jacoby mentions Wilson only in passing. Dunno much about Wilson, I understand he had trouble getting things done as President because he had an arrogant attitude, he knew better than the rubes he had to negotiate with?



Sat Apr 05, 2008 1:40 pm
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Oddly Attracted to Books

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Jimmy Carter wrote-- I think it was after he retired from politics.
I tried one of his novels, and did not continue, so I didn't read enough to form an opinion.


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Sat Apr 05, 2008 2:15 pm
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Beyond Genius

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The following passage hit home, made me feel the depth of our problem.
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To add to the muddle, it seems that Americans are as ignorant and poorly educated about the particulars of religion as they are about science. A majority of adults, in what is supposedly the most religious nation in the developed world, cannot name the four Gospels or identify Genesis as the first book of the Bible. p. 25

We've seen statistics about the bizarre ideas that huge numbers of Americans believe, yet at the same time they're ignorant of where those ideas come from? Oh dear, that's depressing...
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The news media tend to cover evolution with the same bogus objectivity that they apply to other "controversies" like the Armageddon scenario. p. 25

Objectivity is under attack. Liberals view intelligent design as not worthy of being discussed as a legitimate option as quoted above. I've noticed some conservatives push this concept further in claiming judgements are non-controversial. The attitude is something like "Your opinion on the Iraq war is Objectively Wrong, therefore I'm not going give it serious consideration, it's not worthy."

We could take this one step further and say both sides attack objectivity. Or we might say one side properly insists on objectivity regarding facts while the other attempts to stretch it by applying objectivity to subjective opinions. (Or perhaps both sides stretch this?) Am I onto anything here, or am I babbling?
__________________________________________________
Please check out the quote by Bill Moyers on p 29 that starts with "One of the biggest changes in politics in my lifetime is that the delusional is no longer marginal. ... " Jacoby comments with "In the land of politicized anti-rationalism, facts are whatever folks choose to believe."
__________________________________________________
Jacoby ends the chapter with two questions regarding our current "intertwined ignorance, anti-rationalism, and anti-intellectualism".

:idea: "The question is why now."

:idea: "An equally puzzling question is why us."

Any thoughts on these two questions, or is it too early to deal with them?



Sat Apr 05, 2008 2:17 pm
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"An equally puzzling question is why us."


I think asking this question is essential, and must go with another question: Does Jacoby check that it's just you, and to what extent?

Things like anti-intellectualism and ignorance are only relative.
You are ignorant if other countries with the same standard of living are globally more knowledgeable.

I have only read a few pages from Jacoby's book, but does she write a book about Americans with no references to the rest of the world to help understand what is typically American?
And if so, is she really better than the people she criticizes?


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Sat Apr 05, 2008 3:00 pm
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DWill wrote:
Mr. Pessimistic wrote:
[I. Mass Media is a quick fix of parasitic sound bites that imparts a semblence of knowledge in the host organism.
This 'begs the question': What can we do about it?
Mr. P.


The easiest thing would be not to listen to/watch these organs! Read books, the NY Times, The Atlantic, etc., watch some of the PBS shows like Frontline. We get what we appear to demand, we are only pandered to if we respond to pandering.

Will


Yes...that would be 'easy'...to turn away from the drivel. But it is NOT easy to actually readd all these offerings, absorb them and then try to process the info for the average American, who is way too busy with important things like work (24 hour work days is becoming the norm), buying stuff, watching reality TV and playing video games. These 'organs' are exactly what can be force fed to those who feel that the time it takes to inquire sucks!

It is easy for you, me and the people on this forum to exert the extra effort and really examine events...but the sad thing is that many in society do not do this. These are the people Jacoby seems to be aiming at. And just because there is not a totality of willful ignorance in society does not mean that the anti-intellectualism of a good part will not hurt us all. Look at what has been done by a small segment of our population over the past 8 years. Their ideas have permeated our lives in very concerning ways. If someone like George Bush can get elected President, there is a problem. The man is a fucking moron. How can anyone not see that? Politics aside, he is just willfully dumb (smart in a manipulative way, good folks, but dumb in any meaningful sense).

Mr. P.



Sun Apr 13, 2008 8:42 am
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DWill wrote:
There are some things that really get under Jacoby's skin, aren't there?One of them is folksiness. Another is the media, including the internet. I will not make the mistake, if I ever meet her, of saying "laughed all the way to the bank."


I do not think it is "Folksiness" that she is upset with (whatever that IS). It is thr trivialization of events and the attempt generazlizde people as well as to polarize issues by using a term like 'folks' or 'troops' (I have always been annoyed by the use of "Troops" in place of 'soldier'). I am NOT one of Bush's 'folks'...and I feel like I am indeed being set aside by his intentional useage of the term. Bush is a moron, as I stated before, and his use of this term to try to foster an us against them (and I do not necessarily mean the terrorists) makes me ill. The examples (Lincoln's speech, The Tomb of the Unknown Troops) Jacoby uses to show how crass the use of 'folks' and other inappropriate terms sounds says it all for me.

I think she is going a bit over the top here for a reason...I am sure she is not against the media, the internet or any other medium...it is the impact these are having on our society. I honestly feel that people are dumbing down...at least the people I run into every day. Not all of them of course, but damn. And I do NOT consider myself a genius or even a highly intelligent person. THAT is what scares me more! If these people are so deficient to me...shheeesshhh!!!

;)

Mr. P.



Sun Apr 13, 2008 1:32 pm
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LanDroid wrote:
But doesn't she risk getting into other trouble as in Marines are never called soldiers, they're always Marines? Jacoby makes some interesting points, labels and words do matter, but I can't go along with some of this hand-wringing. (Oh dear, should that have been hyphenated? ;-) )


But Marines are the definition of an "elite fighting force" (at least in their own minds...)

The term troop does not instill any sense of grandiose stature...it minimalizes the individual soldier by using a term traditionally used for a mass unit of an army. If one says they are a Marine, they will get respect. If they say, with chest puffed, that they are a Troop!...they will get a sidelong glance.



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I believe the use of "troop" is an attempt to be more inclusive, not in the male/female sense that Jacoby mentions, but because this is a joint operation.

The term "Soldier" refers to a member serving in the Army ~ which excludes the Marines, Airmen and Sailors that are very much a part of the fight.

While I agree "troop" is not a good choice, I have not thought of a term that is both inclusive enough without sounding too mundane . . .

. . . servicemember?
. . . military personnel?



Wed Apr 16, 2008 3:53 pm
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