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Decline of the American Brain

Discussion in 'News' started by Cracked Ass, Nov 12, 2004.

  1. Cracked Ass

    Cracked Ass Veteran Member

    Joined: Oct 24, 2001 Messages: 7,898 Likes Received: 47
    I am depressed more each year by the devolution of American intelligence.
    There is a huge connection between a short attention span and a decline in plain old thinking. This is not a diss of people with ADHD; I'm more concerned with people who can't be bothered to take the time to process input and arrive at a conclusion. Many of the intermediate steps have disappeared from people's thought process, so that certain words and images produce a knee-jerk reaction. The consequences of this are catastrophic: the re-election of Bush, a rise in jingoism and creationism and even bad grammar.
    A hundred factors are meshing synergetically to speed up the devolution process in America. To either blame or argue the validity of any one factor misses the point: how they spell disaster in the aggregate.
    TIME. As a result of relentless consumer culture, people in America work too hard and too long even if they don't need to in order to survive; the complaint "Who has time for that?" these days now applies to reasoned thought. People buy what they're told because, frankly, it's easier than having to think about stuff. The number of times I've heard people answer a question about their opinion with a short, verbatim comment I just saw on the news is frightening.
    Furthermore, the viewpoints of smart people take a while to articulate, whereas sound bites are short and easy. People too lazy to listen to or read a thoughtful position on something wind up hearing only from shallow idiots. Witness the number of people who won't read this post because it's too long. Witness the number of people who couldn't be bothered with the context of a John Kerry remark that was aggressively misrepresented and derided by Rove and his henchmen.
    MEDIA. Again the consumer culture pervades: almost everything out there in the media is an advertisement for something, even if the product is not always clear: a politician, a country (America), an ideological stance. Constant bombardment with prefabricated thoughts and phrases makes thinking less necessary.
    LAWYERS. This is one of the most ominous attitude shifters this country has ever seen, and I think it is slept on. The culture of legal liability here has created a couple of monsters. The first is a feeling of entitlement: misfortune has befallen me, therefore somebody owes me money. Who shall I sue? This attitude is dangerous enough to rational thought by itself, though its children are more dangerous. It's the attitude that nobody has to look out for themselves, that anyone with assets (and therefore potential liability) must look out for them, or get sued. With nannies all around, who needs to think before they act?
    The next legal monster is the one created as a backlash to the danger of being sued: deniability. Because of the tort atmosphere, companies and institutions and many individuals have taken steps to protect themselves from being sued. The most telling example is right in the name: Anycorp LLC. LLC stands for Limited Liability Company (or corporation). There it is: We Are Difficult To Sue is PART OF THE NAME OF THE COMPANY. Note how many companies you see these days that have the LLC attached to their name; they are saying up front that They're Not Responsible for injuries that have not even happened to you yet.
    The wall of deniability has blended with a particularly vile form of lying called Public Relations. All language used by any corporation or government or other potentially liable party is deliberately bland, vague, and misleading, and more recently couched in terms that leave the exact opposite impression of what is being conveyed. (For a blow-by-blow, example-filled book on this topic alone, read a book called Toxic Sludge Is Good For You, I forget the authors.)
    I don't know whether it's because people are being lied to so masterfully, or just so often, but a huge percentage of people seem to have been numbed over, unable to think their way past this sleaziness.
    Another monster child of the litigation atmosphere is a plain old reduction in freedom - not strictly related to the decline in intelligence, but part of the backdrop. As a kid I wandered places unhindered; in recent years, just walking in those same places today (by train tracks, highway offramps, private property that never had a "guarded" atmosphere because it was understood that everybody cut through there) quickly attracts cops, security guards, etc. who, on the surface, appear to be concerned about my safety more than I am, but whose line of bullshit can't conceal the truth, that they were hired by the property owner to eject stupid or litigious trespassers. Stupid people who believe the world is looking out for them keep hurting themselves, suing, and making governments (especially with regard to driving laws) and property owners more hostile to everybody; because of other people's low intelligence, I routinely get hamstrung by new regulations and rules designed to protect Darwin Award candidates from winning.
    TV GENERATION. Today's kids are fucked, simply because of how things are presented on television: jump cuts. The number of jump cuts (instant changes of camera angle/subject) per minute has risen drastically in the last twenty years, to what is currently an obscene level. Kids as young as 2 who are exposed to several hours of television a day are having troubles with brain development, because they are getting hardwired to anticipate a hundred scenery changes per minute. This lays the groundwork for ADD and related disorders. For more on this subject, read books by Kalle Lasn, founder of Adbusters.
    Of course, kids could watch less television, but who's watching them? Not those parents who are too busy working overtime so they can buy more stuff (or because the rent is too high).
    We can look forward to a very disturbing next couple of generations of ADD-riddled, Ritalin-jumpy, intellectually challenged Americans.
    EDUCATION. Since Bush won't fund all those children left behind, the lower quality of education in this country jells with the TV/Media problems I just documented to decrease overall intelligence. Many of the signs crop up in declining language proficiency; for more on this, read an essay by George Orwell entitled Politics and the English Language, which also makes some of my other points. Mixed metaphors, ignorant mistaking of one word for another (vicious "cycle" was originally "vicious circle"; people recently mistook "niggardly" for "nigger", etc.), inability to understand that "it's" is a contraction of "it is" rather than a possessive form are all at epidemic proportions.
    I have a lot more factors to document, but I have to go. Who the hell has time?
  2. ledzep

    ledzep Junior Member

    Joined: Feb 21, 2002 Messages: 146 Likes Received: 1
    I agree man, it's crazy how the world (because almost everyone now-a-days is Americanized, what happens to the US happens to alot of us) has seem to have lost interest in actually learning thse days. Nobody cares about history anymore, they watch Jerry Springer or Dismissed instead of learning why the world is the way taht it is.

    I remember when the US had just invaded Iraq my sister (she was like 16 or 15 at the time) asked us on a car trip "who is Saddam Hussien"

    everyone in the car (me, my cousin and my parents) stared at her, mouthes agape.

    "Well I know that the US is looking for him but like what is he?

    Most people on my hall in college dont know who Kim Jong Il is. KIM JONG IL! possibly the most brutal and dangerous dictator of the world, one of the biggest threats to world peace, and people here dont know who he is! And the sad part is taht after I showed them how shocked I was, some of them where like "Well he's korean, he doesn't concern Americans".

    slapworthy comments.

    I also hate how people work now-a-days. If I have a project due for a class, I will not lose sleep over it, If I do it halfway and I'm tired, I'll go to sleep and do waht I can when I wake up. It sickens me how people now, instead of sleep when they're tired, drink RED BULL and stay up and do it! This cant possibly be healthy (plus I think Red Bull taste like piss) and I bet that in 15 years they're going to find out Red Bull gives you cancer (imagine the commercials then).

    I fear for the world.

    on a lighter note, I think this is one of the coolest thread titles I've read.
  3. kaesthebluntedwonder

    kaesthebluntedwonder Elite Member

    Joined: May 16, 2000 Messages: 3,066 Likes Received: 1
    Cracked, you hit the nail on the head. Thanks for dropping some names too, I've been needing a good read for a while now.

    As a musician, something I've been noticing the past couple years is that a lot of people don't seem to understand the value or don't have the attention span for live music, to see it made in person, to watch a group of musicians creating something and moving and interacting, and how important it is to have that, and to think about what it takes to make good music, and how it can serve to bring people together and tell a story...no wonder so many schools are dumping music programs.

    Ugh, and just listening to the radio and hearing Bush drives me insane. How the hell is it that so many people believe the shit he says without thinking twice?
  4. Herbivore

    Herbivore Senior Member

    Joined: Oct 12, 2004 Messages: 1,431 Likes Received: 1
    i wish i had something worthwhile to add... you're right on the money. although i can't say i feel as passionately about most of the topics you've covered, they all bother me to a certain degree. unfortunately, there's not much you can do... you either put up with it, or go crazy stressing out over it. nothing you, or anyone else could do would ever change the sue-happy trend becoming more and more popular, or change the way the media portrays things. it's definitely a sad and unfortunate fact that American society is headed in the direction it is, and sometimes i wish i could just be ignorant, blind and blissful like the majority of this country, but i can't. who knows, maybe i'll end up moving to Europe if it gets bad enough here... i do have citizenship in Finland, but that's not really something i would want to do.

    i enjoy being smarter than most of the people i interact with on a daily basis.

    and what really boils my blood is people who say "supposebly".....
  5. porque

    porque Senior Member

    Joined: May 5, 2002 Messages: 1,844 Likes Received: 0
    ...if you haven't already, you should read marshal mcluen (sp?)...he wrote a lot about how television was going to completely change the way people process information...he did most of his writing in the fifties, before television even became really big...also the new rage in philosophy is linguistics (...well it might not be that new...it's been the rage since the seventies...but it takes a long time for philosophy to change...), the basic idea being that our thoughts are driven mostly by our language (...if there isn't a word for it you can't think it)...i can't think of any one off my head to specifically recomend, but there is lots of very interesting stuff out there...

    ...good rant...
  6. CIPHER_one

    CIPHER_one Senior Member

    Joined: Jul 3, 2000 Messages: 2,300 Likes Received: 0

    maybe thats because a word for it doesn't exist.....!
  7. im not witty

    im not witty Guest

    kalle lasn = nuff respect.
  8. im not witty

    im not witty Guest

    i guess this isnt an appropiate thread to mispell words. so sue me.

    thank you thank you, ill be here all week.
  9. rubbish heap

    rubbish heap Senior Member

    Joined: Mar 18, 2003 Messages: 1,563 Likes Received: 2
    Great read, Cracked Ass.

    Happily, I had enough attention span to finish it in one sitting even though the doc diagnosed me with borderline ADD at a young age...
  10. Jimmy Jump

    Jimmy Jump Member

    Joined: Jun 8, 2004 Messages: 665 Likes Received: 0
    droppin' jingoism like its hot suckas!!

    i think cell phones should be blamed for something too.
  11. villain

    villain Veteran Member

    Joined: Jul 12, 2002 Messages: 5,190 Likes Received: 2

    It's Marshall McLuhan.

    And yes that was a good rant. That was a very good description of some of the problems afflicting us. Sadly the question remains, how do we fix all of this. (however "they" would not even allow such altruism or even admit anything is wrong. "Love it or leave it, they would say." Extreme positions. It is hard not to be pushed away. But back to the matter at hand.)
    So, what can we do? Personally I think first and foremost we need to take Bush down. We could try to count the votes again, while they pussyfoot around us.... hopefully this works out. We probably couldn't get him impeached, because republicans control the house. I think there needs to be more legal action. Bush is not immune to felony charges. And there is good and plenty evidence out there. Get a good time of lawyers out there, lots of public support, a strong and infallible case, and nail the bastard to the wall and immortalize his misdeeds forever in the book of justice. That would be undeniable, and so dramatic, I really think it would force alot of people to reevaluate things. Then we should attack the fucking media too for not being accountable for whatever they say. (Go Olberman) Serious though this evil empire needs to be struck down before they solidify their power even further. This is a regime marching straight towards fascism.
    All else fails I've been studying media piracy on the side.
    In the words of an old friend, as the culmination of a long, poetic diatribe, "TELEVISION ZOMBIES, AND CAFFIENE ZOMBIES, CHOOSE YOUR DEATH!"
  12. BROWNer

    BROWNer Guest

    btw, that book 'toxic sludge is good for you' was written
    by john stauber and sheldon rampton, who happen to have
    a few other great books out there that i would recommend.
    and kalle lasn's book was good too.
  13. Weapon X

    Weapon X 12oz Loyalist

    Joined: Sep 6, 2002 Messages: 14,905 Likes Received: 202
    Wow, crackedass, nicely put together. Thanks for making me angry.

    On topic - I read recently in Leonard Koppet's "The Thinking Fan's Guide to Baseball" (possibly the first real analytical book on baseball) that it is generally accepted that outfielders' skills have detiorated simply for the lack of concentration. An outfielder needs to have the most protracted concentration out of everyone on the field, but because of 'society', one will rarely see a great outfielder in the likes of the old days.

    that's my 2 cents.
  14. Juan Fuentes

    Juan Fuentes Banned

    Joined: Mar 6, 2004 Messages: 1,567 Likes Received: 6
    the heroes,good guys,right religion,right race= BABYLON

    fuckin nerds!
  15. Cracked Ass

    Cracked Ass Veteran Member

    Joined: Oct 24, 2001 Messages: 7,898 Likes Received: 47
    I'm a nihilist at heart, so the pragmatic question "what can we do about it" gets a cynical shrug from me. I don't think "we" can do anything; it's like fighting the tide. I try to run my life by anticipating the imminent effects of mass stupidity upon it, and heading off those effects in whatever way I can, which is usually not much. I try to surround myself with thoughtful, smart people, but the best we can do is commiserate. Intellectuals are among the first people to get the guillotine when the mobs finally hit the street. I still might write a book though, if only to get one more rational voice out there for the smartest of the next generation to heed.