We Are the April Fools

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Substantial numbers of Americans believe in ghosts — and that President Obama is a Muslim. Has the April Fool’s mentality become our national reality?

It is traditional, at this time of year, for people to come up with preposterous, outrageous but sorta-true-sounding pronouncements that will set folks back on their heels for a minute or two before they realize it’s just a joke. But the whole idea of an April Fools Day joke may be dead, overtaken by a reality that is just this side of nuts.

The world has always had an ample supply of headcases — some of them having launched wars and massacres, witch burnings, and even holocausts.  But in recent decades, I’d thought the ranks of the addled had thinned. Sure, Hollywood always had its share of loons, but they were basically ignored. Now, however, the Charlie Sheens and Lindsay Lohans play to packed houses. Maybe that’s show biz, but how about politics? Listening to some of the current crop of aspiring national leaders makes you feel sorry for the Andy Borowitzes and The Onion writers who are hard-pressed to come up with something more farfetched than the people they are trying to parody. I mean, Michelle Bachmann is saying the nonsense she says in all seriousness.

So then you have to wonder about the sizeable audiences commanded by these poorly educated, misinformed, and just flat-out wrong publicity hounds. A look at what public opinion tells us about substantial numbers of our fellow citizens is not comforting. Take, for example, some findings put out by the highly respected, non-partisan Pew Research Center — a “fact tank,” if you will.

Do bear in mind that an increasing number of Americans stubbornly refuse to accept the fact that President Obama is a Christian.  (They seem to prefer that he be a Muslim.) A poll taken last August found that nearly one in five Americans (18%) said the President is a Muslim, while only about one-third of adults (34%) correctly identified him as a Christian, down sharply from 48% in 2009. Fully 43% say they do not know what his religion is – this despite all the news coverage of the topic, and pictures of him going to Church! As the old saying has it, “None so blind as those that will not see.” I am at the point where I want to substitute the word “dumb” for “blind,” and “think” for “see.”

This same “don’t confuse me with the facts” crowd is not only ignorant about some hard-to-ignore facts of national life (Pew found, after the November election blowout, that fewer than half of those surveyed knew the Republicans had taken control of the House.) But substantial numbers harbor beliefs that are ridiculous and anti- scientific, if not Luddite. I find it uncomfortable knowing that among our fellow citizens, one in four (25%) believes in astrology (including 23% of Christians); nearly three in ten (29%) say they have been in touch with the dead; almost one in five (18%) say they have seen or been in the presence of ghosts. Think of it: nearly one-third of Americans think they can talk to dead people! Whereas 87% of scientists say that humans and other living things have evolved over time and that evolution is the result of natural selection, just 32% of the public accepts this as true – into which group I would probably put the 13% of the scientists who buy creationism.

Anyway, April Fool’s Day jokes may have come and gone because, it seems, so many people accept tall stories from the get-go. But certainly with the political no-nothings, the joke’s on us.

Editor’s Note: This piece was written with significant help from Jodie Allen at Pew Research

 

34 comments so far.

  1. avatar Baby Snooks says:

    I’m afraid I’m one of those who is slightly lunatic but have managed somehow to avoid becoming a lunatic.  I believe in everything and nothing at all. Have had the “things that go bump in the night” experiences. All pale in comparison to the reality of the “things that go bump in the day” expriences. Particularly the reality of politics. Which has become the folly of fools. Mainly those who believe in politicians. The only Democrats and Republicans in this country are the fools who believe there are Democrats and Republicans on the ballot.

    Jung called our belief in the hoodoo as I call it “projection” and that probably is true. I have no idea if the hoodoo of my life is projection or perception. I do know that so far I haven’t heard voices. And I have managed to avoid those who do. Including a number of politicians. 

    As for astrology we are having what’s called a Pluto return. Pluto is where it was when they signed the Declaration of Independence. I suspect Pluto is going to send us to the Boom Boom Room as one astrologer calls it. I’m just not sure if it is preordained or simply self-fulfilling prophecy. I suspect, looking around at all our politicians, it is self-fulfilling prophecy.

    And that’s no April Fool’s joke!

  2. avatar fice says:

    What of strange is a third of USA people talking to deads ?  90% say they talk to God !! The question is ¿ Did they get an answer ?

  3. avatar phyllis Doyle Pepe says:

    There was a time when intelligence was prized and praised. The dumbing down in this country is disheartening and disturbing and I don’t see anything  coming down the pike to change this direction. Just the fact that global warming is being denied by many signifies the stupidity and fanciful thinking that is rampant today. Revolutions will be fought over food and water in decades to come, I fear. In the meantime we’ll have the folks who don’t know history, who believe in religious gods and demons, whose dead talk to them on a regular basis, and who really believe their party is working for them while they drink their tea/beer and watch their reality shows. So much for enlightenment.

    • avatar Baby Snooks says:

      Journalists used to use something called a “fog index” when writing their stories which dictated the ”vocabulary” so to speak. It was a measure of the educational level of the average reader. At this point I’m afraid the level is “pre-natal.” Or just primordial. Some haven’t advanced beyond the amoeba stage. 

    • avatar Lila says:

      Phyllis – you said it.  And I believe your fears will come to pass, indeed – are coming to pass already in parts of the world.  One in six people on Earth has no access to potable water.  And the UN deemed nearly one billion malnourished in 2010 (down from 2009, when over one billion were malnourished).   This is not just a simple distribution problem.  We are actually depleting our formerly renewable resources; over-drawing our accounts with Nature; and most of us who wring our hands at the situation ask, “how can we feed 9 billion people by 2050?” when they should be asking:  “how can we stop and gradually reverse our ridiculous population growth, so there will be enough for all?”
       
      The global situation is dire, and our public sleeps in a comfy cocoon of ignorance (some of it willful in nature).  With our generally weak education and poor awareness of global reality and how we fit in, we will be ill-prepared to deal with it when it crashes in on us.

  4. avatar Maggie W says:

    Yes, Margo, we live in a state of April Fool mentality.  It is more than sad.  Just for grins, go online and take Newsweek’s recent 20 sample questions of the citizenship test.  Only 1/3 of the test test takers knew who the vice president of the USA is.   They also had great difficulty identifying one power of the federal government.

    In the 80′s , a question on one of those career placement tests given to young people was, ” Are you important?”   12% believed they were.  Fast forward twenty years.  On that question, over 90% believe so.  That is remarkable considering today’s high school drop out rate and the lack of interest in job responsibility.  We live in a “feel good” era where everyone on the team gets a trophy.  It doesn”t matter if that team placed last in the tournament or that some players never left the bench.  Everyone is a winner.  So it comes as no surprise when these same “winners” feel politically savvy and participate in ads that begin, “I am not a witch,” or talk about our good friends and allies, the North Koreans.  

    It is all one big Saturday Night Live skit. 

    • avatar Margo Howard says:

      Maggie — interesting information and figures. It’s all really quite sad and, to me, somewhat mysterious.

      • avatar Lila says:

        No mystery.  Intellectual laziness is rewarded and intellectual curiosity or industry is punished, or at least – not rewarded.

    • avatar Baby Snooks says:

      The internet in great part is responsible for this “hubris” in our society – bloggers have become journalists. With the power of a pen they shouldn’t have.

      It’s a fascinating question. “Are you important?” I thought about that for a minute. I’m not. Despite appearances on here that I might be. Or that I think I might be. Or worse that I think I am. I’ve just had a very interesting life. Filled with interesting people. Some famous. Some not. I suppose importance is a matter of either the perspective of others or simply your own ego. Unfortunateley most people in our society focus on developing their ego rather than their brain. Which explains that 90%. And the “hubris” that is consuming us.

    • avatar O E says:

      I’ve been a citizen of this country (by choice) for 46 years.  I’d to pass all the required tests and interviews at the time.  Yet  even to this day, because I still speak with an accent, born Americans whose grammar in speech and written word hardly goes beyond the fourth grade, approach me rudely and ask, with no small degree of arrogance, “Where do you come from!” and  act surprised when they learn that I’ve made my living in this country as a respected writer. 

      It worries me a lot that when the Government considers cuts in spending, one of the items at  the top of the list is education.  The one primordial element in progress, be it economical, political, cultural, or industrial.  And we wonder why we see so many ignoramuses running for political office or being elected to office?  People who can’t discern through education, can’t be expected to elect those who could lead to improvement; those people feel more comfortable electing someone just like them, so they don’t feel diminished by their representatives. Along the way, when someone discerning, rational comes along, they call that person “elitist”.

      • avatar Lila says:

        On ignoramuses electing ignoramuses:  yes, and it’s really frightening.  This is why I hammer at the need to overhaul our education system.  If we are going to have universal suffrage, it is essential that we have a universally demanding education to go along with it.  But instead, we have a 30% high school dropout rate, and even the 70% who graduate are often unable to perform even at the easiest college courses, to fill out job applications, or to manage their own finances.
         
        I don’t care so much if our graduates know who signed the Magna Carta or the Declaration of Independence.  Good to know, but we can look it up.  The biggest missing links in America today are intellectual curiosity, and the ability to think critically.  Without those things, people don’t ask the right questions and therefore have no hope of getting to the right answers.

  5. avatar O E says:

    With reference to those Americans who question President Obama’s religion and keep alive the foolish debate about  his Christianity, I would like to remind the readers of what Blaise Pascal (French mathematician and philosopher) said in the 17th Century: “Men never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it from religious conviction.”  There’s a nucleus of religious Christian zealots in this country who never fail to do injustice to the preachings of Jesus Christ through their acts of judgment and ignorance.
    .
     

  6. avatar Mjit RaindancerStahl says:

    Pardon my editing, but shouldn’t that be “know-nothings” ?

  7. avatar D C says:

    ” nearly one-third of Americans think they can talk to dead people!”  Does that count ALL the Catholics?  If you pray to Mary and any of the “saints”… you’re talking to dead people.  Not trying to start a war here… just the facts. 

    • avatar Baby Snooks says:

      I think Margo was referring to the people who think dead people talk to them.

      • avatar Briana Baran says:

        Trust me, many Catholics believe just that. Then there is the entire crowd which believes that angels, as direct mouthpieces of God, speak directly to them through beams of sunlight, dust motes, and the occasional Cheese-Crisp or grilled cheese sandwich. Or snakes of the venomous variety and weeping madonnas and other miracles of the more dubious sort.
         
        I know dead people talk to me. This is indisputably proven every time I get one of those loathsome campaign calls from either party here of late. I am reasonably certain that the callers are at best zombies that were interred a bit too long before reanimation.

      • avatar Baby Snooks says:

        It’s all a mystery. Science versus religion. Neither really is absolute in terms of explaining “us” and so we are left with faith. Mine is absolute. But I couldn’t possibly tell you what exactly it is I believe in. Whatever it is, it doesn’t talk to me. Probably laughs at me, or with me, from time to time. But never talks to me.  I would think by now it would have. As much as I have talked to it. Whatever it is.

  8. avatar Jane Rogers says:

    As I read this I sit in my office behind my desk and I can’t help but wonder about the 90% that believe they are important. Then I look up as a co-worker, who is in her late 20′s, walks by. She is one of the 90%.
    Being in my mid to late 40′s I think about how I was raised by my parents and the educational system. There was a time that you could finish high school and be prepared to be a “service” worker. Or even be a high school drop out, with the intent of being a “factory” worker. There was no shame in taking a position in the “service” industry. There would be others that graduated high school, who would go on to get a 2 year degree and yet others who would get a 4 year degree, etc. The more time you spent getting an education meant that you made more money when you went to work. Occasionally a person with “only” a high school education would get a job in the mailroom of a corporation (get your foot in the door) and would be able to work their way up. Now everyone is so smart and too important to take a service job and they should all be “managers”.
    Which goes back to the 20 something co-worker, who has not hesitated to tell her 40 something subordinate (with only a high school education) that her 20 years of experience means nothing compared to the 20 something’s 4 year degree.  I wish I could say that it was an April Fools joke, unfortunately it was not.
    I recently saw an ad for an assistant fast food manager position and the education level required was an assoicates degree.  I would like to say that it was posted on April 1, but it was not. Everybody wants to make the big bucks and being “just” a high school graduate is now considered a “shame”

    • avatar Lila says:

      My aunt and uncle, who are in their 70s, have only a high school education from a rural school in the hills of Kentucky.  She worked on the computers for the later Apollo program and he was an engineer with Pratt & Whitney, both very successful.  Try that with a high school diploma today.
       
      And I hear you on those who think a piece of paper makes them “smarter” or “better” than someone with 20 years of experience.  I have seen that phenomenon too.  Let me tell you – a degree is definitely worth something, but not everything. I have seen young grads of Harvard and other top schools who really could not perform on the job – they were already convinced of their magical prowess, didn’t put any stock in the experience of the older people around them, and only after getting into serious danger of losing their jobs did they finally wise up and start to listen.

      • avatar Baby Snooks says:

        More of what I call the “I have, therefore I am” hubris of America.  “I have a PhD therefore I know more than you do and therefore am more important than you and deserve more than you do.”  In some ways we have become over-educated and under-skilled in this country. Which is another reason why this country is collapsing.

        I believe the majority of entrepeneurs in this country still are those with only a high school education.  That says a lot.

      • avatar Briana Baran says:

        Baby, I never finished college. I ran out of money with a solid 3.75 GPA just when Reagan cut all funding except for no-income, below-poverty-level minorities, and Illinois went into its 1980′s Depression.
         
        I am self-educated, because I never lost my curiosity and love of wonder and learning. I taught myself to manage two stores, and supervise the company (five store in all) for most of eight years, to place orders, invoice, interview, hire (and fire), collect on bad checks, stock, inventory, customer service…everything. had it not been for the walking cranial-rectal inversion with hemorrhoids that was the majority owner, and who embezzled all of our tax funds, ordering money, and money on prepaid orders…the company that was growing like crazy would still be alive and wonderful today.
         
        Before that I taught myself to set up main displays in a very posh and too-too gift shop in a wealthy town in Illinois, and cut the department manager’s overstocked inventory in half, plus increased her sales by 25% in four months. I had never worked retail before, or done a display window. I’ve driven farm tractors during planting and heavy machinery, and also been a cook/nanny/housekeeper/laundress/dog-keeper for an entitled but utterly stupid former Playboy bunny.
         
        I am not bragging, for the information of my detractors. But I am having trouble instilling the same level of want, curiosity, desire, and push in my 14 year old son. He is brilliant…straight A’s and nothing else in Gifted and Talented since second grade. But most of the classes don’t challenge him, as mediocrity is the accepted norm. He has two exceptional teachers, one in math and the other in history, both of whom expect G&T kids to work harder and perform better, and accept nothing less. My son is kind, compassionate, loyal to a fault to his friends and family, funny, loving and also very 14 (emo, dramatic, and hyperbolic). But he is lacking in passion and desire. He doesn’t push himself at all. We encourage him to try new things intellectually (physically, he has begun to take an interest in exercise…R. and I are leading by strong example and it is working like a charm)…both his dad and I are always into something new, investigating on the internet, trying new authors, listening to different music (we are not serious TV people), attempting new things…but he is very disinterested in the new and different and challenging.
         
        Some of this comes from school, undoubtedly. TAKs tests that are generic and truly useless when it comes to gauging the level of students who truly can do them in their sleep. Mediocrity in Language Arts and the Fine Arts (the latter soon to be lost in Texas schools). A strong dogmatic influence that creeps into the sciences. Far too much emphasis on sports. It is not conducive to encouraging curiosity or the intellectual at all.
         
        We can’t push too hard…you cannot force a child to something as that is a recipe for disaster. I keep encouraging, keep nudging, keep gently working at him. There are small victories. But it is hard for a woman who read the unabridged Moby Dick, Faulkner’s Sanctuary. the complete works of H.P. Lovecraft and Poe, The Once and Future King and the Protestant version of the Bible all the way through (I thought it no less ridiculous than the Greco/Roman, Norse, Egyptian or Hungarian myths I was already familiar with) when she was 8 to see her 14 year old still reading, repeatedly, the same teen/young adult books with their all too simplistic writing and shallow stories. I hope he will stretch out a bit more, and reach for the stars.

      • avatar Baby Snooks says:

        Reality is all our children learn in schools today is how to take tests. There is no motivation to actually want to expand their minds. They are taught to read but not really comprehend. Only recall so they can pass tests. 

        At one point during one of the real estate lulls I tutored students from one of the best public schools in Houston along with one of the best private schools. That they needed a tutor says it all, doesn’t it?

      • avatar Briana Baran says:

        Indeed it does. Our son is fortunate…R. covers math (not my strong point, although I understand it far better now than I did when i was in high-school), I cover writing…not just grammar, but also semantics and syntax used to make a point and an impression, and set a tone, and writing for meaning and eloquence…and we both know our science and history…in the unexpurgated, non-revisionist sense. I am the cynic and the one who loves and is fascinated by humanity, warts and all, and R. is much more forgiving and generous, and tends to have a more balanced worldview. Neither of us are social people, in that we neither need or want a group (church, community, or network) to support us…in fact, we both belong to an extremely limited (less than 1% of the population) personality group of introverts (neither of us are shy or reclusive, either) who simply don’t require society to have a comfortable, successful and happy life.
         
        M. is very social. He loves his many very good friends, and his Nanny (R.’s mom), and his older brother, and my sister and her husband, and our neighbors (who are family to him). He is extremely compassionate. And he has had a hell of a time at school…picked on because his views don’t match many of the other students’ opinions (especially religious and political). So far, he has not required tutoring…because we constantly encourage critical thinking, curiosity, and new roads. For the last 11 years, he has remained determined to study paleontology…even the lab and research aspects. He’s excited, but apprehensive, because I am planning to go to college (returning seems a ludicrous phrase after more than 30 years) to study the forensic sciences. I stopped working to raise him and his brother…and really did everything I could to parent them…and enjoyed almost every minute of it (except those that gave me all of the silver hairs in my buzz cut…we won’t talk about those, although they are part of the territory).
         
        The Schools don’t care (actually, M. had the last of the truly great teachers in his elementary school…three the last year before they retired). The State of Texas doesn’t care. And the Federal Government never has cared in my memory…nor do all of the Tea Bagging Morans who can’t even spell the words on their protest signs correctly. Even on this website, if you can’t produce a doctorate, you can’t possibly know what you’re talking about (and I’ve know plenty of blithering idiots who wouldn’t know enough not to stand in front of a speeding train who had multiple Ph.D’s)…but if you do…you are instantly deified.
         
        O, all right, I’ll hop down off of my soap box now. Good grief. I think I’ll go sit with a few of the felines and let my blood pressure return to normal.

      • avatar Baby Snooks says:

        I think teachers care but the education system doesn’t and of course more and more teachers are leaving the educatino system out of total frustration and in many cases economic reality. Our teachers have become our new maids. There only to watch the children. And teach them to take tests.

        We wonder “what are they thinking” in response to the the lunacy that has taken over – they were never taught to think.  Others have merely forgotten how to in our age of mindless rhetoric.

        Our children are our future. That alone tells you we are doomed.

      • avatar Lila says:

        Aw, hell, these were just BA’s from the hoity-toity schools, not even MAs or Ph.D.s, and they were already full of themselves.
         
        This was an office with a mix of civilian/military; almost universally, these young twits held us military types in contempt, assuming two things: 1) “If you were worth anything, you wouldn’t have had to go into the military,” and 2) we probably all had college degrees from correspondence schools or Podunk University.  Never mind that every single military person in that office was fluent in at least one foreign language, and 100% of the officers had Master’s degrees and most of the enlisted had college degrees… plus, toss in 15-20 years of actual experience for any of us.  The young punks with their fancy BAs and a year or two on the job can’t be bothered to figure that out.

  9. avatar Pdr de says:

    Long before Obama had any thoughts of running for president; actually when he was still quite young, he wrote his autobiography. “Dreams of my Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance”.  His father and mother were together the first couple of years of Obama’s life.  Then his father departed for Africa and didn’t return until Obama was a teenager – his father stuck around for two weeks, getting to know his son and returned to Africa.  Obama was born in Hawaii – it’s disgusting that there has been such an issue made of this subject.  As for the original birth certificate not being made available, no one ever sees or receives the original birth certificate – it remains in the records of the city where the individual is born. You always get a photocopy.  That photocopy of Obama’s birth certificate was printed in the newspapers and shown on news programs all over the country.

    • avatar O E says:

       If birthers were asked to show their birth certificates. we might see how the rate of inbreeding has spiked, with the disastrous results we see today.  Donald Trump has joined the birthers. Proof that  the possession of obscene amounts of money doesn’t buy a way out of temporary stupidity.

  10. avatar Amie Kerfos says:

    1. Standing in a church doesn’t make you a Christian, any more than standing in a garage makes you a car. I’m sure a large percentage of the “Stupid” “foolish” “lunatics” think being Christian may be polically expedient it your middle name Hussein and you’re in politics in the US. (Couldn’t be… politians NEVER lie!)  Mostly the people (some who actually are intellegent and educated) doubt the sincerity of his heart. So please stop being a basher Margo.

    2. Who cares? What does that have to do with his ability to run a country?

    • avatar Briana Baran says:

      1): I think the more appropriate comparison might have been, “…anymore than standing in a garage makes you a mechanic.”. And a great many very sincere Christians whom I know, and who really are deeply involved in their religion, truly despise Barack Obama, care deeply that in their humble opinion he is not a Christian, but a Muslim (apparently Freedom of Religion is a very confusing concept to a great many Christians)…and therefore will believe any other rumor that is spread about him. Also, going beyond the personal anecdote, there are organizations in the United States that have their foundations firmly rooted in the belief that this should be strictly a fundamentalist Christian nation (these are not simply double-dip-per-year or Sunday-only church attendees), with atheism and agnosticism made illegal and punishable by law, those who practice Judaism to be ejected from the country by use of force if necessary (that means guns), and that alternative religions (Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam, Catholicism) would only be practicable by permit, taxed,and regulated. One of the largest is Christian Dominionism, to which Sarah Palin is an adherent, and which also would completely revoke all reproductive rights, including birth control, for women. I am an iconoclast, and I include all organized religions in my absolute contempt…I am not singling out Christianity, nor am I bashing. But to imply that people only doubt the ‘sincerity” of Barack Obama’s heart and that it has nothing to do with his allegedly being a Muslim (as opposed to Christian) is as ridiculous as saying that there isn’t a significant percentage of his detractors who despise him simply due to race. Religon is one of the most irrational, senseless, fear-mongering and divisive inventions of the human race, meant only to divide, promote ignorance, and provide power for the few through superstition and dread.
       
      O, 2): No, it doesn’t matter a thing what religion he is, because in Barack Obama’s case, the edifice he chooses to enter to allegedly do his praying is a completely separate issue from his actual agenda and job as POTUS, because he keeps it that way. Personally, after observing and listening to the man (not the demagogues and talking heads and celebutards of the media), I think he is an atheist (no, I’m not…I am a highly skeptical agnostic) who goes to church as a way of throwing a PC bone to the wing-nuts. Now there are certain highly hopeful morons (excuse me, morans) out there whose religious views I do not take lightly at all with regard to their potential as presidential candidates. I would sooner see gravity fail them than see them run.

  11. avatar Dan S. says:

    The current American educational system is a system conceived and designed during the Industrial Revolution and when it was created, it was created with one goal in mind: Prepare the kids to either be assembly line workers, or prepare them to be able to cook and clean and raise the next generation of assembly line workers.

    Such an educational system is designed to impart no more than the basic knowledge to function in society. And it’s necessary to wipe out critical thinking at an early age – this is useful when you need them to submit to authority, because you’re not molding people per se, but creating cogs in the machinery of industry. If you teach someone to not ask “Why?”, they won’t ever ask “Why is my life so unfulfilling? Why doesn’t it make sense that if I just shut up and keep my head down that I’ll be greatly rewarded in some infinite afterlife?” A credulous society is an easily-manipulated society and the people with authority know this well. They rely on it to this day even though the reason for it has long-since passed.

    I agree that just standing in a certain holy building doesn’t make someone a Christian, or Muslim, or Jewish or any sort of theist you want to plug in there. But it’s not hard to find sincere believers of any faith that indulge in greater sins in both severity and scope. I have no reason to suspect that our president is any sort of “secret Muslim” paying lip service in a Christian church and I don’t dismiss the evidence that disproves it just because it doesn’t fit within my worldview. And despite his personal views (which are personal), he’s given me the impression that he’s a practical man and practicality imposes on an American president that he has to be a faithful Christian. To me, this is the real issue: While everyone was quick to ponder whether or not he was a Muslim, it seemed to never occur to anyone to ask why it should matter. I know that presidents in the recent past have violated the seperation of church and state to serve Christian agendas, but was President Obama going to lie his way into office and start forcing through burka laws or cry “jihad” on the Christian citizens?  What is someone really saying when they say “He’s not one of us”?

    Even at the best of times, I always carry a lingering concern that the lack of critical thinking has removed the tools of self-evaluation and has left us with a society of people who wander through their lives without examining why they do or believe anything. To me, questions like “Why do I think this way?”, or “Why do I hold these beliefs?” are of vital importance and are far-too-seldomly asked. That’s why I would think that we’re so capable of being “April fools”.

    • avatar Briana Baran says:

      Absolutely brilliant, Dan S. The two questions you posit, ‘ “Why do I think this way?” ‘, and ‘“Why do I hold these beliefs?” ‘ are linked to the whole process of independent and critical thinking…and yet very few people seem to actually ask them of themselves.  On this site alone, should you espouse an opinion based on research, fact-finding, intellectual assessment and critical thinking…you are immediately accused of following the media of one side or another (even if your words in no way reflect those of any of the current crop of talking-head demagogue celebutards), there are demands for “proof” (but if you provide any links as sources of information…for all aspects of an argument…they remain uninvestigated by those who demanded their presence)…and a copy of your Ph.D, you are accused of bragging, called insane, and taken to task for “taking sides”, being a “hater”, and various other sorts of unpleasantness. This occurs even if your comment presented both sides of an issue, gave reasoned arguments for your opinion, and included statements of observation and opinion…not personal attacks. It seems that disagreeing with people, not worshiping as they do, or believing as they do, or even having a negative opinion about some organization or dogma they hold dear qualifies as a personal attack.
       
      I do ask those two questions of myself, and have been asking them since the tender age of eight years old. I have very few knee-jerk reactions…except to those who attempt to force, and I do mean force, their dogmatic beliefs onto others (I believe in the absolute and total separation of religion and government. Religion, belief and faith should be entirely personal…and have no bearing whatsoever on the decisions made by Federal, State or local government. Period. End of story. If a religious organization, entity or person breaks the law, it or him/her should be subject to the same consequences as anything or anyone else, and religious organizations should pay taxes) and those who harm the innocent, particularly children and animals. I think, perhaps too much. I truly don’t care what society thinks of me…but I also don’t want to bring harm to those who haven’t harmed me or mine…nor do I waste time on hate.
       
      As for the school system, you are spot on. It is designed to be mind-numbing, and most people really don’t seem to mind being anesthisized. That’s why we keep poking at our son, to keep him from becoming just another zombie.