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What, on God’s green Earth, happened to the planets’ collective IQ these past few years? Why does my brain suddenly feel like it needs a shower every time I turn on the TV or read some ignorant comment online?

It bears noting, the (s)election of a PROUD neophyte like George W. Bush for President wasn’t the beginning, merely its most notorious manifestation of stupidity’s new found cache. I remember stupid people doing stupid things when I was a kid, but never do I remember a world so barking mad as the one we live in now. And most of it can be chalked up to “willful ignorance”.

A wonderful example of “Is our children learning?” sped across the Internets at the speed of stupid two weeks ago when a helpless Miss Teen South Carolina desperately tried to bluff her way through a question:

But not to be overlooked is the statistic noted in the very question she could not answer: the fact that fully ONE-FIFTH of American teenagers can’t find the U.S. on a map! Good grief! Haven’t these kids ever watched a weather report on TV with that big honking map of the U.S. appearing on screen 11 times a day? What are we teaching our kids in school when they don’t even recognize the country they live in on a map?

A great example of what’s gnawing at me popped up on YouTube the other day:

Guest host Sherri Shepherd on ABC’s “The View” isn’t all that sure about evolution, and (I suppose) it should come as no surprise that she wasn’t 100% convinced the world is round either.

Side note: In that same episode, host Barbara Walters correctly pointed out that four of the Republican candidates for President likewise admitted that they did not believe in evolution. The late great comedian Bill Hicks had a great routine regarding evangelical evolution deniers as part of his 1993 stand up routine (warning, explicit language):

(Click to play – 5megs, 5:44)

The Ancient Mayans, whose every moment on Earth was dictated by the stars in the heavens, made a rather remarkable observation more than 5,000 years ago:

They noticed that during a Lunar Eclipse… when the Earth passed between the Sun and the moon… the shadow of the Earth on the moon was curved, thus PROVING that the Earth was ROUND. Think about that. 4,500 years before Columbus ever set sail in 1492 rejecting warnings that he’d “sail off the edge of the Earth”, or Magellan sailing around the world in 1519 to prove the world was indeed round, before Galileo was imprisoned by the Inquisition for suggesting the Earth revolved around the Sun and not the other way around, the Mayans had already proved THOUSANDS OF YEARS EARLIER by simple observation that the world was round. Evidence of their understanding of the Earth and its movement through the heavens is evident in the design of their pyramids:

Mayan pyramid with 91 steps on each side plus one on top (91*4+1 = 365)
Mayan calendar pyramid

Every day, when the Sun is at its highest point in the sky (iirc) the temples’ shadow falls on a different step, thus marking the days of the year. Every time the shadow fell on a different side of the pyramid, they knew the seasons had changed. Pretty ingenious for a civilization that existed three to seven thousand years before Galileo built the first telescope.

Saturday morning’s modern-day Dr. Wizard… “Bill Nye: The Science Guy”infuriated a group of Evangelicals when he noted the fact that the moon “merely reflects the light of the Sun, it does not give off any light of its own.” But according to the Book of Genesis “The Sun is our light for the day, and the Moon is our light for the night.” According to one online account, several people in the audience were “visibly angered by what some perceived as irreverence.” A few walked out, and one woman yelled, “We believe in God!” Apparently, these walking testaments to “willful ignorance” have never seen a lunar eclipse either. Granted, they don’t happen every day, but is it that difficult to figure out that if the moon emitted its own light, there would be no such thing as an “eclipse” of ANY kind… lunar OR solar? When the Earths’ shadow crossed the moon, it would still be a bright light in the night sky if it gave off its own light. It doesn’t. Once again, this isn’t rocket science folks. All you gotta do is look up. Is that too much to ask?

I wish I could say it was just us “dumb Americans under Bush” that seem to be de-evolving into drooling imbeciles, and that once he was out of office, America’s love affair with stupidity would melt away… but I can’t. Apparently, our new found stupidity as a species isn’t restricted to just the United States:

From the French version of “Who Wants to be a Millionaire?”

The question: “What object orbits the Earth? a) The Moon, b) The Sun, c) Mars, d) Venus”.

Bad: Poor befuddled Frenchman doesn’t know the Moon, not the Sun, revolves around the Earth.
Worse: 58% of the studio audience doesn’t know either.

5,000 years after the Mayans, a significant portion of people… arguably a MAJORITY even… still don’t know that the Earth revolves around the Sun? Are you kidding me?

The fact some people still don’t believe in evolution amazes me, but it’s not difficult to understand when you hear how unquestioning and gullible Creationists are. A favorite example I like to cite is that of famed creationist Ray Comfort, and what he believes is unshakable evidence of Creationism in the banana. He talks about how the simple banana “fits perfectly in your hand”, has “a non-slip surface for easy gripping”, and a “pull tab” mechanism for easy opening… all evidence of “intelligent design”. Excuse me Mr. Comfort, but don’t MONKEY’S eat bananas? Did God design the banana to fit perfectly in a monkey’s hand? (of course, wild undomesticated bananas bear little resemblance to the long skinny yellow seedless fruit we’re familiar with.)

Are we really becoming THIS stupid?

Flash forward to today. Being “dumb” is respectable, even praiseworthy, whereas intelligent people are “elitist intellectual snobs” that take pleasure in making others look dumb. But just HOW could anyone suddenly not be sure whether or not the world is round or where the U.S. is located on a map?

It is this same “willful ignorance” that allows Global Warming deniers to function. I’ve mentioned before here in “Mugsy’s Rap Sheet” about a scene in the documentary, “Jesus Camp” where a mother that is home schooling her children ridicules the concept of Global Warming to her young son. Any religious basis for her denial of the problem is never given in the film (one can only presume it is because the Republican Party opposes Global Warming, and most Evangelicals identify themselves as Republican.) They ridicule the science with absolutely no religious basis for doing so. But the Republican Party has a very NON-religious reason to deny Global Warming… big business opposes it. Evangelicals… who by their very nature don’t ask questions… are the unwitting tools of Big Business.

BTW, FWIW, IMHO, yes. OTOH, AFAIK, maybe not.

If you understand the above line, there’s a good chance you’re familiar with “texting”… sending text messages over your cell phone. Due to the cumbersome means of input on cell phones (and being charged per letter), an abbreviated “shortcut” language has become a common and acceptable form of writing for tens of thousands of young people… young people that are quickly losing the ability to write and speak properly. And as George Orwell pointed out in his famous novel “1984“, he who controls language controls thought. Limiting a person’s vocabulary limits a person’s ability to express themselves. It’s frightening to think of all those kids out there whose sole experience with writing is an alphabet soup of nonsensical abbreviations. But IDK, my BFF thinks everyone should MYOB.

As I’ve noted before, I maintain a collection of political videos on YouTube which frequently draw the ire of young Republican kids ranging from their late teens to late twenties. The only President of their adult lives has been George Bush. He is their lone role-model for how a U.S. President should act, and what level of respect one should have for “other people”, “opposing positions”, and just the Constitution in general. The lack of writing skills among these kids is as uniformly atrocious as they are vicious. It’s a bit worrisome to think an entire generation of Brownshirts may infect our politics for decades to come thanks to one despicable Administration.

Some examples of some of the comments I have received:

“Bush has put a nues on everyones ass.”

“God bless you, President Bush. Because of you my family and I have internet access and we can sleep at night, without having to post a sentry. Ignore these detractors for they know not what they do.” (age 42)

“if i wanted to see such a bunch crap id eat at kfc for a week.”

“…our troops and sailors are there in the middle east now kicking some towel head ass.”

“Why” are people suddenly increasingly stupid, and what… if anything… can be done about it? My theory is that most industrialized nations have found it to their benefit to dumb-down society. Uninformed people are more reactionary. Those who think less, question less. The Government does all that it can to keep its citizens terrified, then they tell them, “If you just give me this power” or “if you just give up this one right”, I’ll keep you safe from those nasty, nasty terrorists I just finished using to scare you. If you pause to think about it and don’t give them what they want, “you’re unpatriotic” and “helping the terrorists”.

And what works so successfully in one country is copied in others. People stop questioning. They ignore facts, distrust the evidence of their own eyes; everything they’ve ever been taught is suddenly suspect and not to be trusted, and blind fear creates a generation of kids growing up angry, confused, uninformed and unwilling to ask questions for fear of appearing “weak” or becoming an “elitist”.

Our next President needs to be someone that makes learning “cool” again and makes “asking questions” a sign of strength not weakness.