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By Robert A. Vella

In director Mike Judge’s prescient and highly underappreciated 2006 satirical film Idiocracy, society five centuries from now falls into a dismal dystopia as Homo sapiens devolve as a species.  The culprits are growing anti-intellectualism, rampant commercialism, the demise of social responsibility, intellectual curiosity, human rights, and impartial standards of justice.  Many sociologists and other qualified professionals have observed similar trends in recent years particularly in the U.S. which is now widely perceived as declining in comparison to the rest of the world.  A new opinion poll seems to confirm both the trend and the perception.

From – There’s been a stunning reversal in how Republicans feel about the value of college:

Most Republicans now believe that colleges and universities have a negative impact on America.

The gap between how Republicans and Democrats view American education systems has grown even wider in recent years, a new study published Monday by the Pew Research Center reveals.

While 72% of Democrats believe that colleges and universities have a positive impact on the country, only 36% of Republicans feel the same way. These numbers stand in contrast to the general population, of which 55% still views university positively.

What strikes me most about this poll is not the views of Republicans, whose ultra-conservatism should be no surprise, but that of Democrats and of the nation as a whole.  Not even three-quarters of the political party supposedly representing progressive values believes in higher education?  And, barely half the population of the supposedly most advanced country in the world?  Good grief!  We are in big, big trouble.

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22 thoughts on “America in Decline: New poll shows growing Anti-Intellectualism and the devaluing of Education

  1. Robert, I FREAKIN’ LOVE that film! I can’t stop laughing until my side and ribs hurt, yet like an addicted masochist, I keep watching! REPEATEDLY! HAH! 😛

    Seriously though, I envy the Victorian and Edwardian Eras up to 1950(?) — so many prolific intellectuals like Mark Twain, Bertrand Russell, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Albert Einstein, Oscar Wilde, Walt Whitman, et al. I could name 50 more! I want a time-machine NOW!!!

    Speaking of profound films, have you seen “The Man Who Knew Infinity” (2015), a true story? If not, a quick trailer…

    Ramanujen is primarily responsible now for our much improved understanding of Black Holes, over a century after his work and death! 😮 Anyway, some of humanity’s GREATEST moments are manifested because many of the greatest minds and hearts were/are set free! Liberated from sociopolitical and religious balls-n-chains (e.g. doctrine of Total Depravity)! Allowed the space and time to explore their theories relevant to our best cumulative consensual knowledge and wisdom. Yet, as you and I both know, this “liberation and freedom” threatens in many ways those in positions of power and wealth. Case and point, electricity today might be (probably?) FREE for everyone, had Nikola Tesla had things HIS way, rather than the barons/moguls surrounding him and this country’s economy. Several forms of energy, not just electricity, are ridiculously cheap and safe to produce (excluding fossil fuels), yet EVERYONE pays to a tiny proportion of the population for this/these cheap services.

    Is it because the general population is not only lowly educated, but also lazy? Lazy to do the hardwork, legwork, homework to find those heights, those higher roads?

    “Fear stifles. Courage fulfills.”

    Liked by 2 people

    • “Is it because the general population is not only lowly educated, but also lazy? Lazy to do the hardwork, legwork, homework to find those heights, those higher roads?” To this I say: Yes. True learning is very hard and one must learn to accept the fact that he or she may be wrong in what they firmly believe is true. It’s easier to have faith in false equivalency and proclaim,” What I believe is just as true as what you believe because all opinions are equally correct. I’ll be damned if I’m going to work hard to learn something or have to face the fact that what I believe is total horse shit.” We live in a country of idiocy, and, what’s worse, the idiots are proud of just how idiotic they are. I’m very pessimistic about our future.

      Liked by 2 people

    • Even stranger to be immersed in it. There’s always been anti-intellectualism in America, but what’s happening with it now, the shear boldness of its perpetrators, is both terrifying and disgusting. What a country full of idiots I live in. UGH!

      Liked by 2 people

        • It’s pretty simple, really. For some, i.e. the institutional leaders of America’s ultra conservative right (a.k.a. “Christofascism” – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christofascism), anti-intellectualism is central to their authoritarian strategy (i.e. control of the masses). For many, i.e. the angry followers of conservatism, anti-intellectualism provides a venue to vent hostility towards their perceived enemy (i.e. the “elite” secular liberal establishment). For all, this ideology is paramount and it trumps everything else.

          The psychology at work here is at the very least sociopathic. Nothing matters to such people except the illusion of winning. Life isn’t a happy experience of self-improvement and cooperation for the collective good. Not at all. It is seen as a great cultural war which must be won at all costs.

          This sick attitude is always present in a population, but it has become virulent in America over the last 2-3 decades from the great economic failures of western neoliberal policies (i.e. the wealth gap, the demise of the middle class, austerity, globalization, etc.). Europe certainly hasn’t been immune from this social sickness, and neither have some Democrats, independents, and apolitical people in the U.S. Once triggered, these sociological trends (e.g. anti-immigration, xenophobia, racism, religious hatred, etc.) are almost impossible to reverse peacefully. Typically, society is reset only by a catastrophe of some sort (e.g. deadly and destructive war).

          Liked by 2 people

        • It’s literally in-credible, isn’t it?

          Well, for the good folk up there, you’re welcome down here in the Southern Hemisphere, but do please leave all your baggage at the Equator, OK…

          Liked by 2 people

  2. I just did a little research about public opinion in Canada on this topic. The results I found were from studies conducted in 2010, 2011, and 2015. They say that 80% of Canadians value post-secondary education. Also, 68% of young people between the ages of 24-29 hold post-secondary degrees and diplomas – including trades certification. This compares to 43% twenty years earlier. The biggest debate up here is the cost of higher education and the staggering student debt.

    PM Justin Trudeau is a firm believer in higher education and is working on ways to make it more affordable. However, I couldn’t find any stats about levels of support that compared the Liberal and Conservative parties.

    I find this article frightening. No country can afford to slide down that slippery slope to state-sponsored ignorance. America in decline is a scary prospect for allies and the rest of the free world.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Part of the problem is the mysterious (to me) loss of ambition among our young people. You don’t need colleges if you are content with minimum-wage occupations. Perhaps belief in the future is failing. During the 80’s, repeated informal surveys of thousands of undergraduate students found that few believed the country would exist in 200 years. I wonder what we would find today.

    Liked by 1 person

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