Many Post-Moderns Have the Intellectual Equivalent of a Tapeworm in their Minds

Many Post-Moderns Have the Intellectual Equivalent of a Tapeworm in their Minds October 17, 2013

You can present them with the most information rich environment in the world but, because they have never learned to think, or because they have been taught they are the smartest generation in history and need pay no attention to their stupid ancestors, or because they have been taught to pay attention only to trivial information about movie stars and pop music and sports scores, you can ask them questions like “What was Auschwitz?” and they don’t have a clue. In many cases, you can even get them to be *proud* that they don’t have a clue by getting them to believe that learning to think or be educated is “liberal” or “acting white” or “phallocentric” or “Eurocentric”. It matters little which Hated Other you use as an excuse for making yourself stupid and ignorant. All that matters is that you actively cooperate with the project of making yourself stupid and ignorant.

Such a people is ripe for tyranny. And for another Auschwitz.

"as I'm fond of saying, the Church and the truths she teaches belong to Christ, ..."

Rod Bennett on his new book ..."
"Thank you, Mark. The attitude of some Catholics about the good old days makes me ..."

Rod Bennett on his new book ..."
"The Bible influenced the entire course of Western civ after the Christian era and remains ..."

Some Reflections on the Crucifixion for ..."

Browse Our Archives

Follow Us!

What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • A term for this could be “unconscious incompetence” (I don’t know that I don’t know). Have you ever met someone that didn’t understand enough to be embarrassed? That’s unconscious incompetence. Call it Stage 1

    Stage 2 is Conscious Incompetence (I know that I don’t know)

    Stage 3 is Conscious Competence (I know, but I need to work at it)

    Stage 4 is Unconscious Competence (I just know it naturally)

  • rob

    They think being educated is liberal? As if young indoctrinated youth would think being thought liberal is a bad thing.

  • Chesire11

    There is an assumption that this sampling is representative of the average college student’s level of knowledge. While I’m hardly sanguine about the historical literacy of most Americans, it is very simple to interview a bunch of people, present the least well informed and pretend that a point has been proven.

    Some people aren’t well informed. That is ALL that exercises like this demonstrate, and really, didn’t we already know that just from day-to-day interactions in our own private lives?

    • Heather

      This is an excellent point. One has to wonder how many people they actually talked to in order to come up with this handful of completely clueless ones.

      Not that this lets the completely clueless ones off the hook.

  • rob

    All I know is the that academia is ripe with those who were educated past their intelligence level. Modern education teaches what to think, not how to think. Liberalism is a disease.

  • kmk1916

    I think they had the grace to look embarrassed, and I bet the author filled them in or gave them sources to learn after she turned the mic off. What else do we expect? If Jesus the Truth is not the center of our culture, how can the truth be known? If their parents were in a similar cluelessness, why would they have a drive to discover?
    I thought the interviewer was an excellent example of a way of effective evangelization. Kindness, sincere interest in her subjects, and listening well. My husband went from nothing to Catholic beginning a very short, kind campus interview by two young adult Christians, part of an ecumenical charismatic group. Just 2 questions: Do you know Jesus? Do you want to get to know him?
    God bless the patient listener.

  • JM1001

    I hesitate to let those kids off the hook simply because the government hasn’t mandated that such things be taught (at least not in all states). I wasn’t raised in one of the states where there is such a requirement, and I was able to answer those questions. Why? Because there are these things called books. Unlike most of those college students, I don’t read a book only when there’s a final exam to study for. I read because I’m intellectually curious, which means I probably read a lot more than they do.

    They don’t need some public school requirement to learn about such things. If they actually cared about history, they could easily visit a public library, sit down, and read. It’s certainly cheaper than going into tens of thousands of dollars in college debt. But they don’t. They probably crack open a book only long enough to pass the midterm and the final; that’s all they care about.

    So, if those kids are completely ignorant of history, it’s not because of a lack of some government mandate to teach it, but because our culture simply doesn’t value historical consciousness. This naturally follows if there is a simple lack of intellectual curiosity; most college students have a very philistine attitude toward anything that’s outside their own major: “If it’s not in my field, I don’t need to know about it.”

    Would requiring these things to be taught in public schools fix the problem? Maybe, at least on the surface. But it wouldn’t fix the deeper, underlying problem: they don’t know how to think, to be intellectually curious, and to seek out knowledge even when it’s not “required” in some class.

    • The Shadow

      It’s even worse than that. I am a private tutor, mostly of college students. Now, I grant you, I don’t tend to meet the really bright ones; but then again the ones I work with are those who truly wish to learn, which is more than can be said of many.

      I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve asked, “Have you been reading the textbook?” and am told, “No.” “Why not?” “I don’t understand it.” “Why did you bother to buy it, then?” “So I could do the assigned homework problems.” They’re spending hundreds of dollars on books, then using them only to turn to the problems at the back of each chapter. It *doesn’t even occur to them* to actually read the material before the problems. It blows my mind.

      • kenofken

        Textbooks are a mixed bag. In general, it’s a good idea to read them, outline for yourself etc. On the other hand, I’ve found that some, especially certain science texts, did more harm than good. In a two-semester physics sequence, we had an excellent if eccentric professor and one of the worst textbooks I’ve ever owned. Reading it actually tended to corrode whatever understanding I had gained from the lectures. I didn’t fail to read it, I diligently avoided doing so! The practice problems were valuable. I also found solutions manuals were well worth the investment.

        Still, I consider that the exception rather than the rule. In many other courses, the opposite was true. I learned everything from the book, armored that understanding against whatever rambling drivel was being delivered at lecture, and turned up there primarily as a courtesy and to gain insight on what material would be tested. In my own brief time as a tutor myself, I found that most of the students who came in were the ones who least needed help. They were mostly older returning students who were quite bright and hardworking but had some anxiety and wanted to cover all bases. The ones who desperately needed my help never darkened the door, or did so only the week before the finals, when they were far beyond saving!

        All that aside, I don’t believe the underlying problem of staggering and dangerous ignorance surrounding things like the Holocaust is primarily a lack of mandates or poor study habits. Our society and culture simply do not value intellectual curiosity or critical thought or history. The problem spans both ends of the partisan political spectrum as well. On the left, we have emotivism and the idea that reality is narrative independent of facts. On the right, at least since the rise of neo-conservatism and yes, the Tea Party, we have a staggering level of anti-intellectualism and at times a positive celebration of ignorance as a virtue.

        • KM

          “…On the right, at least
          since the rise of neo-conservatism and yes, the Tea Party, we have a
          staggering level of anti-intellectualism and at times a positive
          celebration of ignorance as a virtue.”

          Yup. Christian anti-intellectualism seems to be on the rise. At the school where my kids attend (a private Lutheran school because the public/other options are worse) I was shocked to find that many of the teachers tell the kids to ignore the scientific evidence in the textbooks about the age of the Earth.

          My son came home one day, telling me that his teacher told him that the Earth was really 5,000 years old, and that the science textbook was wrong and that carbon dating was mostly erroneous except when it wasn’t erroneous. (Confused yet? My son was.) Thankfully some of the kids (including my son) actually challenged the teacher on this. No wonder some kids don’t believe in religion or their elders these days.

          • KM

            P.S. Sports and athletes are worshipped at this Lutheran school, while being smart/intellectual is considered nerdy and rather weak. (To be fair this has been the overall norm in U.S. culture since at least the 1980’s.) Being smart is suspect too, because that might make a person lean toward science which can turn people into anti-christian libruls.

            • Rebecca Fuentes

              If it’s presented like that it might. How does one engage in a discussion of ancient history with young earthers?

          • kenofken

            Teachers who get caught propagating that level of drivel should have their licensing yanked for malpractice, and the school ineligible for any sources of public funding.

        • Elaine t

          We ignore the math textbooks for the most part – they’re awful. Our teenager finds the explanations simply confuse her. They seem designed to make concepts complicated. And don’t get me started on the jargon.
          Either I or her Dad look over the lesson and the problems, and provide a bare bones explanation that she can go on with. We’re more interested in her being able to DO math, than in grasping education-ese jargon-filled concepts.

          We saw the jargon problem very early on, while she was still in regular school – ‘number sentence.’ for instance. What’s wrong with equation? why teach a term that will be junked later?

          Elaine T.

  • GinaRD

    Funny you should say this — just today I saw a tweet advocating that “teabaggers” be put in concentration camps. True story.

  • Guest

    the low information voter rivals the true socialists for the base of the political left today. you couldn’t be more right.

    • ganganelli

      Don’t forget those low information teahadists. This site is from actual comments left on John Boehner’s facebook page.

      • Guest

        i’m a tea party supporter and most definitely NOT a low-information voter. check out jay leno’s man on the street segments and pray for our country.

        • ganganelli

          I’m a liberal democrat and also NOT a low information voter. But we’re probably in the minority on our respective sides of the aisle.

          • quasimodo

            most studies show tea party identifiers are the high information voters. an Ivy league professor did a study recently and showed that tea party identifiers knew more about science than other groups. he was shocked but admitted that he didn’t personally know any members of the tea party … he only knew what the media and his friends said about them.

            • ganganelli

              No offense but how high information can you be when you egged on a strategy that everyone knew would be a complete flop.

              • Dan F.

                Good opportunity for a gratuitous Braveheart quote: “We don’t have to beat them [the English], we just have to fight them.”

      • KM

        LOL. My favorite from that site: “Lefty fascist RINO traitor”.

        • ganganelli

          I’m partial to “a**hole Breitbart-betraying libtard”.

          Yeah, let’s shut down the government and risk default so as not to betray Breitbart. Who the heck is Breitbart?

          • KM

            Or this classic gem: “sleazy fascist communist.”

            The late muckraking-web-“journalist” Andrew Breitbart has almost achieved Saint status in conservative circles, although Saint Ronnie Reagan is the current leader occupying that throne.

            Breitbart’s avatar graces the comboxes of many conservative political sites. There are even t-shirts with his face on them. He’s the Che Guevara of the Right.

  • SteveP

    Mark – this is a case where the younger emulates the elder; the only thing students need to know is what they like, what they like is their right. It’s called “the American Bandstand” citizen. Like baby boomers, the sophisticated students will make gods of what they like and call themselves pagan – what does a dead Jew matter when one is the pinnacle of life on earth?

  • Eve Fisher

    Being a retired college history professor, I can tell you that what I saw was a lot of kids who came to college sullen and disgusted by the fact that they had to take ANYTHING that was outside their “field” (as if they even knew what that field was), especially something as irrelevant as history. After all, there was the history channel, what more did they need? (After they flunked the first two quizzes, they usually buckled down.) With a lot of effort (which I expected to make, and I am not complaining) I managed to spark quite a few. But the slack-jawed lack of interest was always surprising.

    BUT, I beg of you, quit blaming teachers and the school system for a world in which children have been raised with computers and TV as their baby-sitters; where they spend more time with their electronic companions than their parents; and the parents want to be their children’s friends, i.e., they don’t want to train, discipline or (horrors!) have to live as a good example. I have had parents (of college students!) scream at me over the telephone because their student is flunking – and they would not accept that their child actually had to do the work: homework assignments, essays, term papers, analyses, reading… If the parents don’t support learning (and many of them don’t, college is just another hoop to be gone through), how do you expect the children to? How am I supposed to counteract a lifetime of indifference and minimal effort in three hours a week? (Yes, there are always exceptions.)

    And since almost all educational systems have gone or are going to a business model – give the kids computers, that’s all they need, and besides, teachers are overpriced liberals anyway – this situation is only going to get worse. You want to watch a bunch of scatter-brained, sound-byte, shallow-pooled kids, given them all computers and tell them to learn at their own pace. They’ll be on Facebook (or its latest equivalent) 24/7, and you know how much good information is available there.

    • Andy

      I agree. As a still practicing college professor – the “digital generation” does not have the slightest idea about working to learn – if it is not on the ‘net, it isn’t learned and we know how valid everything on the ‘net is.
      Asking students to think and to leave their electronics away is in violation of the business model that Apple, Microsoft et al, have sold schools. Our president has actually formed a task force to find a way to require that faculty and students confine much of their interactions and work to the digital world.

      • Eve Fisher

        Same here in South Dakota. And we’re giving tablets to elementary school kids who, as we all know, are naturally self-disciplined, with marvelous impulse control and focus. Shaking my head with gloomy thoughts…

      • Marthe Lépine

        I have even heard lately what I certainly hope is only a rumour: Apparently there are primary schools now that no longer teach children how to write, since it is assumed that electronic systems have made handwriting “passé”.

        • Andy

          handwriting is not being taught as the tests do not examine it nor is valued as word processing replaced cursive/handwriting. So Martha what you have e heard is true.

    • KM

      I think this disdain for education beyond one’s “field” started in the 1980’s at least. I recall my university days in the 1980’s where some Business and Engineering majors had the attitude that mandatory Liberal Arts / English courses were not all that germane to their education or fields. I remember attending parties where the Business School graduates seemed to pity those of us who were getting our Liberal Arts degrees. The implication was that they would be rich winners while we would turn into poor losers. They didn’t seem to fathom that people would choose a field for reasons beyond money, or that some people may not want to study business or have the aptitude for it.

      • Marthe Lépine

        This attitude is even older than the 80’s. I entered Business School in 1957 at the University of Montreal, and there were already quite a number of students complaining that there were a lot of subjects that did not directly relate to Business. My colleagues of that era are now the grandparents of today’s university students…

  • KM

    Christian anti-intellectualism is part of the problem in our modern culture as well. There’s a book on my “to read” list called “The Problem of Christian Anti-Intellectualism: Why Christians Should Study Apologetics” written by Jeffrey Breshears. Here’s part of the book’s description:

    “This book examines the problem of Christian anti-intellectualism, the underlying causes of anti-intellectualism, the consequences of anti-intellectualism, and the solution….But in Jesus we find a man who was motivated not only by love and compassion but also by truth. As our ideal, we find in him someone who lived in perfect spiritual harmony with God the Father, and as our model, we find in him the perfect integration of passion, intellect and will.”

    “Anti-intellectualism is pervasive among Christians, and it is shameful. Of all people, Christians should be the most thoughtful, the most inquisitive, and the most creative as we strive to fulfill what Jesus said was the greatest of all commandments: to love and honor God with all our heart, with all our soul, and with all our mind.”

  • Mary P

    Both my kids, who attend a fairly mediocre public high school in the suburban south, could answer any of those questions. They have engaged in study of the Holocaust in both Social Studies and English class. I hesitate to draw conclusions about the education of an entire generation based on an interview with some random dumb-dumb posted on the Internet.