The dumbing down of America
By Carl Sagan'
Extract from, "The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark" - 1995 - By Carl Sagan.
October 19, 2020 "Information
Clearing House" - I have a foreboding
of an America in my children's or
grandchildren's time - when the United States is
a service and information economy; when nearly
all the key manufacturing industries have
slipped away to other countries; when awesome
technological powers are in the hands of a very
few, and no one representing the public interest
can even grasp the issues; when the people have
lost the ability to set their own agendas or
knowledgeably question those in authority; when,
clutching our crystals and nervously consulting
our horoscopes, our critical faculties in
decline, unable to distinguish between what
feels good and what's true, we slide, almost
without noticing, back into superstition and
The dumbing down of America is most evident in the slow decay of substantive content in the enormously influential media, the 30-second sound bites (now down to 10 seconds or less), lowest common denominator programming, credulous presentations on pseudoscience and superstition, but especially a kind of celebration of ignorance. As I write, the number one video cassette rental in America is the movie Dumb and Dumber. Beavis and Butthead remains popular (and influential) with young TV viewers. The plain lesson is that study and learning - not just of science, but of anything - are avoidable, even undesirable.
No Advertising - No Government Grants - No Algorithm - This Is Independent Media
We've arranged a global civilization in which
most crucial elements - transportation,
communications, and all other industries;
agriculture, medicine, education, entertainment,
protecting the environment; and even the key
democratic institution of voting - profoundly
depend on science and technology. We have also
arranged things so that almost no one
understands science and technology. This is a
prescription for disaster. We might get away
with it for a while, but sooner or later this
combustible mixture of ignorance and power is
going to blow up in our faces.
A Candle in the Dark is the title of a courageous, largely Biblically based, book by Thomas Ady, published in London in 1656, attacking the witch-hunts then in progress as a scam 'to delude the people'. Any illness or storm, anything out of the ordinary, was popularly attributed to witchcraft. Witches must exist, Ady quoted the 'witchmongers' as arguing, 'else how should these things be, or come to pass?' For much of our history, we were so fearful of the outside world, with its unpredictable dangers, that we gladly embraced anything that promised to soften or explain away the terror.
Science is an attempt, largely successful, to understand the world, to get a grip on things, to get hold of ourselves, to steer a safe course. Microbiology and meteorology now explain what only a few centuries ago was considered sufficient cause to burn women to death.
Ady also warned of the danger that 'the Nations [will] perish for lack of knowledge'. Avoidable human misery is more often caused not so much by stupidity as by ignorance, particularly our ignorance about ourselves. I worry that, especially as the millennium edges nearer, pseudoscience and superstition will seem year by year more tempting, the siren song of unreason more sonorous and attractive.
Where have we heard it before? Whenever our ethnic or national prejudices are aroused, in times of scarcity, during challenges to national self-esteem or nerve, when we agonize about our diminished cosmic place and purpose, or when fanaticism is bubbling up around us - then, habits of thought familiar from ages past reach for the controls.
The candle flame gutters. Its little pool of light trembles. Darkness gathers. The demons begin to stir.
The information available on these pages does not enjoy the support of the vast majority of our citizens, in fact it enrages a great many people. Yet, we are tasked to share what little we know in the hope that there are others who fully appreciate the struggle that our country and our species face. If you are one of those few people who share this concern please support our work by clicking this link.
Extract from, "The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark" - chapter 2 - 1995 By Carl Sagan. Read the book for free here. http://www.metaphysicspirit.com/books/The%20Demon-Haunted%20World.pdf
Carl Edward Sagan (November 9, 1934 – December 20, 1996) was an American astronomer, planetary scientist, cosmologist, astrophysicist, astrobiologist, author, and science communicator.