21 April 2008

Do We Teach Stupidity?


Although very tempted to make that the shortest (and sharpest) Jenius post ever, I feel compelled to elaborate. Yes, We teach stupidity. But far worse than that is that We seemingly can't do anything but teach stupidity.

Let's be literal and start with what is laughingly called the educational system. Decades of studies show that despite ever-increasing amounts of money and hand-wringing theorizing ad nauseum, We are getting dumber by the minute. By any measure--self-comparative, cross-comparative or observational--We are institutionalizing stupidity in a systematic way:

---Self-comparative: Take any U.S. educational system academic test from before World War II and notice how often you haven't even got a clue to the answer...but the answer is still relevant today.

---Cross-comparative: The U.S. has dropped from a Top 5 leader in student academic performance to barely being in the Top 20...and is falling behind faster now than ever before.

---Observational: There's a murderous, criminal moron in the Oval Office, surrounded by a few characters that make him look like Little(-Brained) Bo Peep. The rise of the stupid to the top of the pyramid is the system's crowning achievement and Our horrendous failure.

The basic premise of "The Marching Morons," the Cyril Kornbluth science ficton classic, is that the future is framed by five billion morons under the unknowing care of three million intellectuals who keep the whole planet from turning into a barren rock covered with rotting corpses. Here We have an anti-scenario: a cadre of vicious, amoral morons engaged in turning the planet into a barren rock soon to be covered with rotting corpses. 

But why has stupidity triumphed--I use the word in disgusted irony--to such a degree? It's simple: Stupid is what stupid does and it knows no other way. In other words, stupid wins by being stupidly consistent.

Even a blind squirrel eventually finds an acorn is another way of putting it. Stupidity--individualized or systematic (think the murderous moron and the Republican party)--wins over the long run through sheer force of repetition. Just as a small group of fanatical armed goons can take over a country, so can a relatively small group of unthinking fatheads do the same. All it takes is for a majority to accept their existence and ignore their efforts...until it's too late.

And what happens when the fatheads and Fools take over? They try to build others in their same image in a sort of "Frankenstein's monster clones himself" kind of way. Is it a conspiracy? No, it's simply the concatenation of intellectual conformity and indifference, stretched out in time. The stupid don't really outnumber Us, but they do outact Us.

For in the end, teaching stupidity will have and has had a far greater impact than the countless hours of idly discussing ways to overcome, thwart or conquer its existence. It is the fundamental difference between doing and saying. The stupid have done, and continue to do, while We primarily carp in Our free time, lamenting the downfall of Our level of existence and theorizing to Our mind's content. 

Yes, We teach stupidity. Sometimes by omission.

The Jenius Has Spoken.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Hehehe, you may have to change the reference from The Marching Morons to Idiocracy, a movie with some loose connections to the story. Our reality is actually not so different from Kornbluth's book. The intellectuals were the slaves, even if they didn't admit it to themselves.
In our reality, the smart sometimes compromise to appease the moronic rulers (the Jose Apontes, Ro$ello's and Acevedos). As it usually happens, a compromise, leads to another and pretty soon the smart willing to compromise finds himself as stupid as the rest.
The problem with our education system is that what we need to crack is the education that happens outside the clasroom. Society needs to value education and educators so our children view their time at school as something worthy of more than marking time. If we can make the cultural shift to value our childrenś education, everything else will fall into place.
Or something, I uh, need to go back to sleep.