The Dumbing Down Of The American Mind
By Doug Soderstrom, 23 April, 2005
There is a very dangerous phenomenon that seems to be occurring in the United States of America; something that I refer to as “the dumbing-down of the American mind,” a nearly willful tendency for Americans to forgo reality in favor of believing what they want to believe. … In my opinion, there are five factors that can explain such a phenomenon.
* First, there is the dumbing-down of education in our country. After having taught psychology at the college level for the past 39 years, I have seen our standards [..] go straight to hell! …
The problem: A very determined standoff between the teachers willing to maintain standards versus a generation of students who are nearly unwilling to learn, students who have “apparently gone on strike” with an attitude of “I dare you to force me to learn!”
Consequently, in my opinion, our country is slowly but surely becoming “a nation of near retards,” a collective group of individuals who have become so absurdly self-absorbed and disinterested in acquiring knowledge that we, as a nation, are slowly but surely losing touch with the reality of what is actually going on in the world!
To hell with logic
* Second, there has been a tendency for folks in our country to compartmentalize their religious beliefs from that of science and philosophy.
Now it is important to understand that religion is based upon faith (knowledge that comes from personal experience).
Science is based upon research (knowledge that accrues from the experimental process). And, of course, philosophy is based upon logic (knowledge based upon rational thought).
One is no better than the other, and in our search for truth each should be allowed to complement the other. However, within that of the Christian fundamentalist community there has been a deliberate attempt to discount what we have learned from science, as well as that of rational thought. These folks believe that their religious beliefs are absolutely independent of anything and everything else in life..: “To hell with logic and scientific evidence, the truth (reality) is simply a matter of what I want it to be!”
No interest in the needs of others
Third, in our country, there has been an absolutely inordinate interest in the procurement of freedom (a need for each to protect his or her own rights), at the expense of a reasonable concern for responsibility (an interest in the welfare of others). …
Such an absurdly disproportionate interest in our own personal rights at the expense of an interest in the needs of others has lead our country to a kind of narcissism rarely seen at any other time in the history of man.
Forth, there has been an obdurate tendency for those in our country to become increasingly chauvinistic and bellicose: “If you don’t like America the way it is, then you can just get the hell out!” …
This attitude is moving us towards militancy, a willingness to castigate, an insistent urge to go to war against anyone, perhaps even everyone, who happens to simply disagree with us…
And finally, there is a tendency for the people of our country to have become increasingly ethnocentric, for our citizens to believe that our way (the American way) is the one best way of doing anything and everything in life…….. and that anyone (any nation) that disagrees with us is simply out of step and therefore must be wrong!
For example…… the belief that fundamentalist Christianity, is the right religion and every other religion in the world is wrong… The belief that capitalism is the one correct way for a nation to distribute its wealth… And, in regards to governance, the belief that democracy is the only acceptable way, and that all others [..] is wholly unacceptable…
Arrogance & Ignorance
In conclusion, it is my opinion that such factors as I have enumerated have led our nation into a very dangerous quagmire, one of abject arrogance and ignorance, a very bad combination indeed!
Arrogance in the sense of believing that our nation can do no evil, that we can make no mistakes, since our nation has quite obviously received the a priori blessing of God allowing us to do anything and everything we as a nation “feel led” to do.
And, of course, ignorance in that the people of our nation have, no doubt, allowed themselves to become quite “under-educated,” our belief in God tends to restrict honest and rational thought…
I began my life as a fundamentalist Christian attending church every Sunday morning at the First Baptist Church in Junction City, Kansas. Eventually going to graduate school I earned a Ph.D. degree in the field of psychology. Realizing the inherent foolishness of the religious right I discovered Christian Humanism, a much more thoughtful approach to Christianity, one that calls for us to live our lives according to the teachings of Jesus as found in the Sermon on the Mount.
Having been a psychologist for the past 44 years, I have spent a great deal of time trying to understand why folks who refer to themselves as Christians [..] turn right around and do such things as spend there time, money, and votes, on incresing the amount of military weapons we have, laws that restrict the rights of minorities, bills that lead to more guns on the street…
Favorite books: The Pursuit of Meaning by Joe Fabry, To Have or To Be by Erich Fromm, The Courage To Be By Paul Tillich.