Saturday, April 2, 2011

Don't need none o' that fancy book learnin'

Survey says, don't bank on an American inventing the next quantum leap for the world.

A study released earlier this past week reveals that the scientific output of China will overtake that of the U.S. by 2013.  This is based upon the number of research studies and scientific papers that each nation publishes.
Can't say that I'm surprised.  Is that because I think Americans are inherently dumber than the Chinese?  No.  I don't think that at all.  But I do think we are more ignorant.
Very often, ignorance is a choice.  Oh sure, we're all ignorant about something.  No one is capable of being a know-it-all in the purest sense of the phrase.  But let's face it, we Americans choose to be ignorant.  We like it that way.  We don't trust smart people.  If we meet someone with an Ivy League education, we want to keep an eye on them.  We want our political leaders to be folksy, the kind of person you'd go and have a beer with.  Hence Obama's image problem with more than a few sectors.
I don't want to have a beer with my political leaders.  I want to be in awe of them.  I want to say, "that is by far the smartest guy/gal in the room.  No wonder they were elected to this job."  But as is pointed out in Bill Mahr's Religulous, "you don't have to pass an IQ test to get into the U.S. Senate."  These are the same guys who think that stem cells are murdered babies but murdered Afghan children are "collateral damage."  These are the same guys who think that the bulk of scientific data that supports the idea of Global Warming is really "a liberal conspiracy aimed at bringing down big business."  These are the same guys who think evolution is completely fabricated but Adam, Eve, and a snake with an apple makes perfect sense.  These are the same guys who think if we ask nicely enough, The Jebus will twinkle his eyes at us and everything will be all right.  Don't need none of that fancy book learnin' 'round here, do we?
I do think this mentality comes from the top down.  It gets into the mainstream consciousness and mingles with the attitude of "something difficult cuts into my party time too much so I don't want to do it."  I've taken classes in physics.  No argument, it's tough stuff and my performance was hampered by my inept ability with math.  That was my reason for changing fields of study.  Not money, as so many other people appear motivated by.  Yeah, why study physics when your starting salary out of college will be in the toilet when you can get mid five figures with a degree in marketing or admin? 
I don't need America to be #1 in everything.  No, I'm pretty far from that tea bagger mentality.  What does bother me is the attitude we take towards knowledge and education.


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