There’s more to the G20 summit than the words exchanged between world leaders, according to body language expert Robert Phipps, who examined the participants’ non-verbal gestures and shared his findings with RT.
A video of the gathering shows a much-anticipated handshake between US President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The way Trump conducted himself during that handshake can mean one of two things, according to Phipps.
“Trump extends his hand for the handshake first, and as Putin reciprocates, you then see the left hand of Trump come underneath the forearm of Putin,” he told RT.
“It’s either an emotional connection or it’s an attempt at a controlling gesture,” he added.
As for Putin’s behavior, Phipps noted that the Russian leader pointed his finger at Trump.
“A finger point is generally quite an aggressive signal,” he said.
Trump may not have viewed it that way, however, as he is later seen patting Putin on the back with his left hand.
“Again, this can be seen as either affectionate or controlling,” Phipps said.
Putin’s decision of where to stand – behind a table – during his meeting with foreign counterparts was also notable, according to Phipps.
“That can be seen as a barrier to the other leaders.”
As for the family photo of G20 leaders, Phipps said the placement of each person was worth noting.
“Merkel is hosting the event so she’s front and center, which is where you would expect her to be. And generally speaking, the power disseminates the further away from the center of power that you get.”
That statement is interesting, considering Trump was almost at the very end of the front row, with only French President Emmanuel Macron standing between the US president and empty space.
Phipps said although it is assumed the leaders are placed in their positions rather than freely choosing him, he said Macron appeared to have chosen his spot.
“That seemed to be a choice from what I can see from the video, because he goes along and deliberately sort of moves to the outside of Trump, which puts Trump not on the outside… so Macron is reaching out to Trump.”
Phipps went on to observe a conversation – and a chest punch – between Macron and Trump after the photo was taken.
“Macron actually starts talking to Trump and he punches him in the chest, just very gently, which I thought was very interesting, because that again can be seen as a slight bullying, but with an affectionate part to it as well.”
“But he’s basically saying – whatever he’s talking about I don’t know – but what he’s saying is, ‘Come on, you’ve got to do this…’ because otherwise there’s no reason for the punch in the chest.”
When asked by RT if there was a leader whose behavior on the world stage is particularly interesting, Phipps responded by saying: “Trump is the exception because he uses a lot of controlling gestures” when meeting world leaders, noting that “in reality they should all meet on equal terms.”
Another body language expert, Darren Stanton, also commented on the world leader’s gestures during G20 Summit in Hamburg, noting “dominance and power gestures” by both Putin and Trump.
“The thing about president Trump is classic when shaking hands, very much into dominance and power,” Stanton told RT. “The thing about this particular photograph is an open palm gesture as ‘I mean you no harm’, or the old meaning as ‘I have no weapons.’ And there was a hesitance from president Putin almost like ‘Is this a new strategy that I am aware of?’ I think there was a little bit of a thought there of ‘what should I do.’”
Stanton noted that he saw some footage when both men were side by side and “President Trump got this what is called reverse Steeple gesture with the hands and that is again confidence and dominance.”
“And then we also see president Putin with his legs sort of quite spread apart and that is a very classic dominance gesture,” Stanton said.
So in Stanton’s opinion, “although the men have the mutual respect for each other… president Trump still want to be seen as the top man.”
One day in 1995, a large, heavy middle-aged man robbed two Pittsburgh banks in broad daylight. He didn’t wear a mask or any sort of disguise. And he smiled at surveillance cameras before walking out of each bank. Later that night, police arrested a surprised McArthur Wheeler. When they showed him the surveillance tapes, Wheeler stared in disbelief. ‘But I wore the juice,’ he mumbled. Apparently, Wheeler thought that rubbing lemon juice on his skin would render him invisible to videotape cameras. After all, lemon juice is used as invisible ink so, as long as he didn’t come near a heat source, he should have been completely invisible.
Police concluded that Wheeler was not crazy or on drugs – just incredibly mistaken.
The saga caught the eye of the psychologist David Dunning at Cornell University, who enlisted his graduate student, Justin Kruger, to see what was going on. They reasoned that, while almost everyone holds favourable views of their abilities in various social and intellectual domains, some people mistakenly assess their abilities as being much higher than they actually are. This ‘illusion of confidence’ is now called the ‘Dunning-Kruger effect’, and describes the cognitive bias to inflate self-assessment.
To investigate this phenomenon in the lab, Dunning and Kruger designed some clever experiments. In one study, they asked undergraduate students a series of questions about grammar, logic and jokes, and then asked each student to estimate his or her score overall, as well as their relative rank compared to the other students. Interestingly, students who scored the lowest in these cognitive tasks always overestimated how well they did – by a lot. Students who scored in the bottom quartile estimated that they had performed better than two-thirds of the other students!
This ‘illusion of confidence’ extends beyond the classroom and permeates everyday life. In a follow-up study, Dunning and Kruger left the lab and went to a gun range, where they quizzed gun hobbyists about gun safety. Similar to their previous findings, those who answered the fewest questions correctly wildly overestimated their knowledge about firearms. Outside of factual knowledge, though, the Dunning-Kruger effect can also be observed in people’s self-assessment of a myriad of other personal abilities. If you watch any talent show on television today, you will see the shock on the faces of contestants who don’t make it past auditions and are rejected by the judges. While it is almost comical to us, these people are genuinely unaware of how much they have been misled by their illusory superiority.
Sure, it’s typical for people to overestimate their abilities. One study found that 80 per cent of drivers rate themselves as above average – a statistical impossibility. And similar trends have been found when people rate their relative popularity and cognitive abilities. The problem is that when people are incompetent, not only do they reach wrong conclusions and make unfortunate choices but, also, they are robbed of the ability to realise their mistakes. In a semester-long study of college students, good students could better predict their performance on future exams given feedback about their scores and relative percentile. However, the poorest performers showed no recognition, despite clear and repeated feedback that they were doing badly. Instead of being confused, perplexed or thoughtful about their erroneous ways, incompetent people insist that their ways are correct. As Charles Darwin wrote in The Descent of Man (1871): ‘Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge.’
Interestingly, really smart people also fail to accurately self-assess their abilities. As much as D- and F-grade students overestimate their abilities, A-grade students underestimate theirs. In their classic study, Dunning and Kruger found that high-performing students, whose cognitive scores were in the top quartile, underestimated their relative competence. These students presumed that if these cognitive tasks were easy for them, then they must be just as easy or even easier for everyone else. This so-called ‘imposter syndrome’ can be likened to the inverse of the Dunning-Kruger effect, whereby high achievers fail to recognise their talents and think that others are equally competent. The difference is that competent people can and do adjust their self-assessment given appropriate feedback, while incompetent individuals cannot.
And therein lies the key to not ending up like the witless bank robber. Sometimes we try things that lead to favourable outcomes, but other times – like the lemon juice idea – our approaches are imperfect, irrational, inept or just plain stupid. The trick is to not be fooled by illusions of superiority and to learn to accurately reevaluate our competence. After all, as Confucius reportedly said, real knowledge is knowing the extent of one’s ignorance.
I am a social scientist and I have always been appalled at the pseudo language used in social sciences. This fake obfuscation of the truth rattles me. If you cannot write or say something that the reasonably educated person cannot comprehend, you are pissing in the wind.
(Natural News) Remember when I said recently that the entire left-wing scientific establishment has become convinced that everything causes climate change? My assertion has now been confirmed beyond any doubt.
A peer-reviewed science journal has just been caught publishing a hilariously fake science paper — written in leftish-sounding “sciency gibberish” — that literally claims penises cause climate change.
Because this junk science assertion fits into the lunatic narrative of the totalitarian Left, it was reviewed by multiple scientists and accepted for publication, even though the entire paper was deliberately written to consist of indecipherable nonsense pretending to sound like elitist left-wing “science.” (Find more news about fake science at FakeScience.news.)
Gender studies is a fake academic industry populated by charlatans, deranged activists and gullible idiots.
Now, a pair of enterprising hoaxers has proved it scientifically by persuading an academic journal to peer-review and publish their paper claiming that the penis is not really a male genital organ but a social construct.
The paper, published by Cogent Social Sciences – “a multidisciplinary open access journal offering high quality peer review across the social sciences” – also claims that penises are responsible for causing climate change.
The two hoaxers are Peter Boghossian, a full-time faculty member in the Philosophy department at Portland State University, and James Lindsay, who has a doctorate in math and a background in physics.
They were hoping to emulate probably the most famous academic hoax in recent years: the Sokal Hoax – named after NYU and UCL physics professor Alan Sokal – who in 1996 persuaded an academic journal called Social Text to accept a paper titled “Transgressing the Boundaries: Towards a Transformative Hermeneutics of Quantum Gravity”.
Sokal’s paper – comprising pages of impressive-sounding but meaningless pseudo-academic jargon – was written in part to demonstrate that humanities journals will publish pretty much anything so long as it sounds like “proper leftist thought;” and partly in order to send up the absurdity of so much post-modernist social science.
So, for this new spoof, Boghossian and Lindsay were careful to throw in lots of signifier phrases to indicate fashionable anti-male bias:
We intended to test the hypothesis that flattery of the academic Left’s moral architecture in general, and of the moral orthodoxy in gender studies in particular, is the overwhelming determiner of publication in an academic journal in the field. That is, we sought to demonstrate that a desire for a certain moral view of the world to be validated could overcome the critical assessment required for legitimate scholarship. Particularly, we suspected that gender studies is crippled academically by an overriding almost-religious belief that maleness is the root of all evil. On the evidence, our suspicion was justified.
They also took care to make it completely incomprehensible.
We didn’t try to make the paper coherent; instead, we stuffed it full of jargon (like “discursive” and “isomorphism”), nonsense (like arguing that hypermasculine men are both inside and outside of certain discourses at the same time), red-flag phrases (like “pre-post-patriarchal society”), lewd references to slang terms for the penis, insulting phrasing regarding men (including referring to some men who choose not to have children as being “unable to coerce a mate”), and allusions to rape (we stated that “manspreading,” a complaint levied against men for sitting with their legs spread wide, is “akin to raping the empty space around him”). After completing the paper, we read it carefully to ensure it didn’t say anything meaningful, and as neither one of us could determine what it is actually about, we deemed it a success.
Some of it was written with the help of the Postmodern Generator – “a website coded in the 1990s by Andrew Bulhak featuring an algorithm, based on NYU physicist Alan Sokal’s method of hoaxing a cultural studies journal called Social Text, that returns a different fake postmodern ‘paper’ every time the page is reloaded.”
… None of it should have survived more than a moment’s scrutiny by serious academics. But it was peer-reviewed by two experts in the field who, after suggesting only a few changes, passed it for publication:
Cogent Social Sciences eventually accepted “The Conceptual Penis as a Social Construct.” The reviewers were amazingly encouraging, giving us very high marks in nearly every category. For example, one reviewer graded our thesis statement “sound” and praised it thusly, “It capturs [sic] the issue of hypermasculinity through a multi-dimensional and nonlinear process” (which we take to mean that it wanders aimlessly through many layers of jargon and nonsense). The other reviewer marked the thesis, along with the entire paper, “outstanding” in every applicable category.
They didn’t accept the paper outright, however. Cogent Social Sciences’ Reviewer #2 offered us a few relatively easy fixes to make our paper “better.” We effortlessly completed them in about two hours, putting in a little more nonsense about “manspreading” (which we alleged to be a cause of climate change) and “dick-measuring contests.”
No claim made in the paper was considered too ludicrous by the peer-reviewers: not even the one claiming that the penis is “the universal performative source of rape, and is the conceptual driver behind much of climate change.”
Postdoctoral Research Associate, The Rockefeller University
Yoav Litvin does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond the academic appointment above.
The Conversation is funded by Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the Knight Foundation, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Alfred P Sloan Foundation, Rita Allen Foundation and the Simons Foundation. Our global publishing platform is funded by Commonwealth Bank of Australia.
Intellectuals, academics and artists play a unique role in society: they preserve and defend both freedom of expression and the morality of choices. Artists can use their work as a means to communicate messages of dissent and hope in the face of injustice, repression and despair.
Meanwhile, those in power who seek to control public opinion typically consider untethered freedom of thought and expression a threat.
But in any capitalist system, it’s difficult to survive as a full-time artist. Artists need to be industrious in order to make a living from art, and may choose to work with government organizations or corporations to supplement their income.
Herein lies what I’ve dubbed the “artist’s dilemma”: how does one cooperate with a large entity while ensuring moral ground? In other words, what constitutes “selling out,” arguably the worst insult that can be lobbed at an artist?
It’s an issue that has come to the forefront, especially for street artists, who seem to be increasingly collaborating with businesses and corporations. Companies will often seek to cultivate artists as a way to enhance their brand, and street art can have the effect of making a product look more authentic, edgy and gritty.
Meanwhile, in some instances, the boundaries between political activism and commodification have blurred. Earlier this year, the street artist Gilf! made headlines for wrapping yellow caution tape with the words “Gentrification in Progress” around shuttered buildings throughout New York City. But the caution tape can now be had for the price of US$60.
In response to these trends within the world of street art, some claim that the genre – specifically, its festivals – have “sold out.” Others make the puzzling argument that this debate is outdated because the genre of street art “has been recognizable since the ‘70’s and ’80’s.”
What is apparent is that with the growth of corporate control over public spaces – along with the relentless attempt of corporate entities to commodify anything and everything – the debate about street art and artists “selling out” is not only relevant, it’s necessary.
The Prisoner’s Dilemma: an analogy
In order to methodically tackle this issue, it’s useful to look at it through the lens of The Prisoner’s Dilemma, a game analyzed by use of principles of game theory.
The Prisoner’s Dilemma, developed by mathematicians Merrill Flood and Melvin Dreshner, is an analysis of a hypothetical situation. The police apprehend two accomplices for committing a minor crime, but they’re suspected of a greater offense. The evidence for the greater offense, however, is circumstantial. The police need their confession to convict.
For this purpose, the accomplices are separated and individually presented with the following options: squeal on your partner and go free (and be absolved of the lesser crime) or remain silent and risk your partner squealing on you, in which case you’ll get the maximum prison term for the major offense.
But there are two more possible scenarios: if both prisoners squeal, they each get an intermediate sentence. Lastly, if both prisoners stay silent, they’ll be tried for the lesser offense, and could still end up in jail.
Studies show that although game theory predicts that the rational choice for each prisoner (dictated by self-preservation) is to squeal on his or her partner, most humans will attempt to at least remain faithful to their partner once before giving them up, which demonstrates the tendency of humans to value social bonds.
The artist’s dilemma
So what does this have to do with artists, their art and the idea of selling out?
Let’s apply a similar “two-by-two” approach to the artist’s dilemma.
Many artists use the streets as an ad space for their art; they view the public as potential clients and pride themselves on corporate partnerships, which can be quite lucrative.
In this case, as long as artists are clear about their overarching goal – promoting sales in a capitalist market – they can’t “sell out.” In a sense, these artists are smaller versions of commercial enterprises that use public space to advertise their products (often without having to pay for the space).
At the same time, artists who have any kind of moral presumptions guiding their work need to assume certain responsibilities. For one, if they are receiving funding from a corporation or government organization, they need to research each entity’s respective agendas. It could simply mean doing some background research on the internet, but it could also entail communicating with the organization itself and asking what it stands for, what it opposes and what its mission and goals are.
If, after adequate research, the entity’s agenda coincides with the artist’s, the work is morally kosher.
However, education also entails risk: if the artist discovers the entity is morally corrupt, at least by his or her definition, it’s the obligation of the artist to forfeit the financial opportunity in order to hold moral ground.
If the artist has found that the organization is morally corrupt and still chooses to work with it – well, the artist is, by definition, selling out.
There’s another outcome: the artist can choose to stay ignorant and work with any organization solely for the money. If the artist is lucky, the organization turns out to be morally sound. However, if the organization turns out to be morally corrupt, the artist can’t simply plead ignorance when being called a sellout.
Pleading ignorance, of course, doesn’t excuse the artist from the consequences of collaborating with a morally corrupt organization. At the very least, he or she must assume responsibility after the fact.
Organizations and corporations involved in the arts also have a moral responsibility. They need to be transparent about their policies and political agendas so that artists can make informed decisions, and don’t have to do all the work themselves.
The case of Shepard Fairey
Shepard Fairey (known for his iconic OBEY slogan) is one of the world’s most renowned street artists. But in addition to his work on the streets, Fairey runs a thriving graphic design business that caters to big corporations, including some with questionable moral standing, like Nike and Saks Fifth Avenue. (For a full list, click here.)
if it was not supplied to the corporations by me, then it would be supplied by other hungry designers.
According to this statement, it’s apparent that even though Fairey is aware of the questionable moral agendas of some of the corporations that commission him, he still takes their money.
So is he a sellout? Not according to Fairey’s definition of selling out.
In one interview, Fairey defines selling out as “compromising your values to pander to the lowest common denominator.”
In another, he elaborates: “To me selling out is doing things purely for the money without concern for the consequences to integrity.”
And in his new book Covert to Overt, Fairey details what he calls his “inside/outside” strategy of work:
…doing things on my own terms outside of the system when necessary, while also seizing opportunities to infiltrate the system and use its machinery to spread my art and ideas, hoping to change the system for the better in the process.
Here, Fairey assumes a Robin Hood-like approach: taking from exploitative corporations and using his commissioned art to chip away at their influence by, for example, raising awareness about war.
Fairey’s dealings with corporations fall within the definitions of selling out, as outlined by the artist’s dilemma. And one must wonder how much influence corporate entities have over Fairey’s art and messaging – surely the commissioned work, but also his street works.
Nevertheless, it is undeniable that these dealings have enabled him to devote significant time and resources to putting up works on the streets that endorse progressive, noncommercial (even anti-commercial) causes. So in order to evaluate whether or not Fairey is selling out, it seems that one must weigh the influence of corporate interests on his work versus the benefits of Fairey’s works on the streets.
The example of Fairey demonstrates the limitations of applying a simple two-by-two theory as a sweeping criterion. Nevertheless, the artist’s dilemma can act as a frame for this important discussion: it unequivocally demonstrates that artists need to be transparent and accountable. They have a responsibility to forge moral alliances with employers that could have potentially conflicting agendas.
“The USA has a long standing practice of non intervention in foreign affairs.” OMG, these people really think that we are dumb. They’re probably right, as we keep electing them liars politicians to represent us.
Here are some hallmark examples of verbal and bodily cues that lying liars exhibit when they lie, as demonstrated for you by the president… with a bonus from the State Dept.
The question in this particular example regarded how the federal government would go about confiscating America’s guns, asked by former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords’ husband Mark Kelly. After a lengthy subject change of nearly a minute, the president said he believed Kelly was alluding to a conspiracy to disarm American citizens and impose martial law.
People are incredibly receptive to meaningless buzzwords, according to a new study in the journal Judgment and Decision Making. Yes, the vast majority of people are willing to believe complete bullshit, to use the scholarly term. (Title of the study: “On the reception and detection of pseudo-profound bullshit.”)
Over the course of four different experiments including hundreds of participants, researchers from Canada’s University of Waterloo and Sheridan College tested how profound people would rate a bunch of buzzwords strung together in a plausible syntactic structure. The psychologists intended to establish a method of testing people’s individual receptivity to bullshit.
Participants rated statements on a scale of profundity from 1 to 5, 5 being “very profound.” As source material, the researchers used Wisdom of Chopra, a site that draws words from the tweets of holistic health guru Deepak Chopra (sample tweet: “experience is made out of awareness”) and turns them into randomly generated sentences; and a website called New Age Bullshit Generator, which comes up with a slew of nonsense phrases based on New Age buzzwords. In a subsequent experiment, they used actual tweets from Chopra deemed to be particularly vague. In another, they compared motivational quotes like “a river cuts through a rock, not because of its power but its persistence” to regular statements like “most people enjoy some sort of music.” In the fourth, they also tested people’s tendency to agree with conspiracies. The hundreds of subjects in the final three studies were all recruited from Amazon Mechanical Turk and paid for their participation.
The researchers found that people vary in their proclivity to assign profound meaning to vague statements, a characteristic they call “bullshit receptivity.” But some people will find almost anything profound, including not very insightful sentences like “most people enjoy some sort of music.” A quarter of the 280 participants in one experiment rated the randomly generated sentences from Wisdom of Chopra and the New Age Bullshit Generator as a 3 or higher on the 5-point profundity scale, indicating that they found them pretty meaningful. “These results indicate that our participants largely failed to detect that the statements are bullshit,” the researchers write.
This may be the result of a lack of critical thinking. Those who are particularly receptive to bullshit, the researchers found, tend to show lower cognitive abilities (like verbal intelligence); are less reflective; more prone to conspiracy theories; more likely to subscribe to religion and belief in the paranormal; and more likely to be a fan of alternative medicine. (The latter, of course, you could probably have predicted based on the motivational quotes that show up on your hippie relative’s Facebook feed.)
So why do so many people fall prey to complete nonsense masquerading as deep thoughts? It could be that they’re just categorically open minded, and accept these statements without critical thought. It could also be a factor of verbal intelligence, since people with higher verbal intelligence, the researchers hypothesize, would have greater knowledge of word meanings that might help them detect the banality of a statement. Or, it could be that people naturally assume that the statements provided to them in the course of a psychological study must have some meaning.
Regardless, we should all cultivate a little more awareness of the bullshit around us. As Princeton philosopher Harry Frankfurt put it in his essay (later book) “On Bullshit” [PDF], “One of the most salient features of our culture is that there is so much bullshit.”
(ANTIMEDIA) A recent study served to confirm the patently obvious: song lyrics for the most popular genres of music are ridiculously obtuse — and getting worse over time. Though this might not be a revelation, the figures are distressing indicators of both an intellectually vapid societal and cultural future as well as its apparent inevitability.
If you’ve already moved away from Billboard music, congratulations, you refuse to be insulted. But if you haven’t, or if you’re concerned about pop culture trends acting as portents of systemic dysfunction, you should probably pay attention. Andrew Powell-Morse of SeatSmart studied the “Lyric Intelligence” of 225 Billboard songs in the Pop, Country, Hip-hop, and Rock genres that spent three or more weeks parked at the top of the charts to analyze any changes over the course of ten years. And change there was.
Ten years ago, the most popular songs read between a third and fourth grade level, but the inanity only increased with time, and after a five-year downward tumble ending in 2014 (the last year of the study), chart-topping hits had a reading level equivalent to second or third grade. Broken into genres, the levels measured just 2.6 for Hip-hop/R&B, a tie of 2.9 for Rock and Pop, and faring best was Country at 3.3 — though declaring a winner in this insipid race to the bottom seems somewhat defeatist. Even further to that point, the most intellectually stimulating song, Blake Shelton’s Country hit “All About Tonight”, measured just 5.8, while wading deeply into the ludicrous was Three Days Grace’s “The Good Life”, at a level equivalent to 0.8 — begging the question, did they have to try to craft lyrics a kindergartner could easily read?
So how did this happen and why is it getting even worse? For the sake of brevity, this is a systemic issue being reinforced across the board by pandemic anti-intellectualism. Some have argued there is no harm in a bit of mindless distraction, but this is incontrovertibly false. When just six corporations control 90% of the media, and 80% of radio stations have identical playlists, mindless content isn’t a choice — it’s a virtual mandate. In this self-propelled cycle of banality, the conglomerates dictate content to be promoted by radio, which in turn pushes it endlessly, creating a false perception that what is being played is due to listener demand. But this insidious marketing ploy is more akin to kidnapping and is every bit as dangerous.
There is a dearth in music options over the airwaves, so when vacuous lyrics are foisted on listeners, they become captives under duress. It is scientifically proven that flexing the intellect can slow cognitive decline, but there has been a cultural shift away from stimulating thought in favor of homogenization and living for the moment, and empty radio content is both symptom and reinforcement of that trend. Society is focused on entertainment, materialism, and self-promotion, and when coupled with a need for instant gratification, it’s really no wonder we’re in such a sorry state. Occasional forays into mindless distraction would be understandable and harmless if they were just forays, but the foundation is faulty due to a sharp decline in quality education at every level.
Education has become the highest form of indoctrination with teachers forced into regurgitating information so their students can pass tests rather than become innovators and original thinkers. And who could blame them? Currently, they’re held to the ridiculous system where their performance is ranked, and salary determined by how those students perform on standardized tests that are, themselves, flawed. As Randi Weingarten, the president of the American Federation of Teachers, put it, “This country has spent billions on accountability, not on the improvement of teaching and learning at the classroom level.”
An education system based almost solely on taking tests is not only intellectually dimming, it’s stressful — instructors doling out the tests are given a set of instructions for what to do when students vomit on their test booklets. All of this is designed to send students to college where the situation is perpetuated. According to Catherine Liu, a film and media studies professor at the University of California, “We don’t educate people anymore. We train them to get jobs.”
From a political standpoint, all this ‘dumbing down’ makes sense: indoctrination creates obedience. If music and culture focus on mindless diversion, and education lacks, well, education, then people lack the acuity necessary to question the absurdity of the system. Those who manage to liberate themselves from this mold and have the gumption to question official authority will find a cozy spot on the government’s watch list. So while we bemoan our country’s lack of intellectual prowess, it isn’t by a failure of design.
The author of aptly titled Idiot America, journalist Charles Pierce, thoroughly summed up the issue this way: “The rise of idiot America today represents–for profit mainly, but also and more cynically, for political advantage in the pursuit of power–the breakdown of a consensus that the pursuit of knowledge is a good.”
Unfortunately, if the lyrics study is a prognostic omen, the epidemic of idiocy will only get worse.