Sunday, February 17, 2008

Cultural Conservationists

I read the above term in this NY Times book review.  This is slightly off topic, but seems relevant to the overall issue.  America is dumbing down, overtaken by anti-intellectual forces that would lead us to a point where we're nothing but a country of idiots.  Business interests dispute well documented facts and theories, merely to maintain short term profits. There are calls that religious dogma be taught in public school classrooms (creationism) at the expense of science, and the continued growing obsession with celebrity culture and instant gratification seems to reject the need to be aware of the world around us.

In a time of climate change, habitat loss and global terrorism, this does not bode well for America's standing in the world.  It also results in less contact with nature and soon perhaps, a disregard for the natural world that could be our undoing.
Ms. Jacoby, whose book came out on Tuesday, doesn’t zero in on a particular technology or emotion, but rather on what she feels is a generalized hostility to knowledge. She is well aware that some may tag her a crank. “I expect to get bashed,” said Ms. Jacoby, 62, either as an older person who upbraids the young for plummeting standards and values, or as a secularist whose defense of scientific rationalism is a way to disparage religion.

Alarmist? Maybe, but I don't think this quote from one of those Fox TV shows is funny:
Ms. Pickler threw up both hands and looked at the large blackboard perplexed. “I thought Europe was a country,” she said. Playing it safe, she chose to copy the answer offered by one of the genuine fifth graders: Hungary. “Hungry?” she said, eyes widening in disbelief. “That’s a country? I’ve heard of Turkey. But Hungry? I’ve never heard of it.”