Swimming in the Shallow End

…of the gene pool, that is:  I get sucked into a discussion with a seriously stupid person the other day, and end up kicking myself over the monumental waste of time. Thomas Paine once said, “To argue with a person who has renounced the use of reason is like administering medicine to the dead.” More concisely, haval al hazman.  But that brief face-to-face confrontation with astonishing stupidity and ignorance makes me remember that this is now the norm.

Everywhere we turn, we see people completely shameless about their ignorance.  What once would cause someone to think, “Gee, I should know that,” now earns a shrug and a giggle.  Ignorance and intellectual mediocrity have become so culturally acceptable that any sign of erudition elicits suspicion and scorn. 

Tom Edwards writes on geocultural literacy (i.e., how much we know of the world around us).  It is just one of my many rant subjects, guaranteed to have me screaming at the contestant on The Weakest Link who thinks that the country with a border on the Mediterranean and a cypress tree on its flag is Canada.  Noooooo!  If you are feeling a tad embarrassed about your mental model of the globe, try these quizzes and map games.

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7 responses to “Swimming in the Shallow End

  1. Shelly, this is for you! You say you are looking to link up with more “anlgosaxim” in Karmiel. There is the BOS (British Olim Society) near Bank Hapo’alim (in the old mercaz), but they seem to be mostly seniors. There are some of us at Kehilat haKerem. Can you leave a way for me to contact you?

  2. OMG. Actually seen these before (and there are more of them). What I find most infuriating is the carefree giggle that accompanies the astonishing ignorance. AAAAUUUGGHHH!!!!!

  3. Oh, come on! Watch a couple of episodes of The Weakest Link on BBC and you’ll see that Americans don’t corner the market on stupidity.

    I do agree, however, that most Americans have NO clue about what’s going on in the world outside their borders. Even the ones that fancy themselves “educated.”

    I mostly enjoyed this video, though, because it showed me I’m not as bad off as I thought! I laughed most when they alternately replaced Australia with North Korea and Iran and nobody noticed!

  4. Hey, I’m not saying that Americans have cornered the market in stupidity, but they do seem to have an edge at being clueless about global issues. There is also a Canadian version of this, and it was even worse, because they asked educated, politically-engaged Americans questions about their friendly neighbor to the north, and got really dorky answers.

  5. Try reading the “Dumb Britain” section of Private Eye. We Brits are equally stupid. Here are two examples from the current edition:

    Graham Liver: In which country is Charles de Gaulle airport?

    Contestant: Russia
    BBC RADIO LEEDS

    Anne Robinson: What is the most northerly city in the British Isles?

    Contestant: Italy.
    THE WEAKEST LINK, BBC1

  6. As, yes. The old “name-a-country-when-asked-for-a-city” ploy. I once collected my favorite stupid answers regarding Israel and the Middle East from Weakest Link contestants. But it can be so depressing; the only antidote is watching Master Mind.

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