Next time you’re inclined to read the follow-up comments posted by folks who refer to themselves as “bloggers”, think of them rather as “sincere trolls”. They’re the ones who write “should of, would of, and could of “, and “there” instead of “their”, or “they’re”. You’ve seen it all too often, and unfortunately, more often than not. “Sincere trolls” is the name that Professor Laurie Endicott Thomas gives those folks and she provides us with a simple explanation for what ails them.
“The sincere trolls are suffering from a problem called the Dunning-Kruger effect,” she states. “Psychologists David Dunning and Justin Kruger found that people with poor intellectual and social skills typically don’t realize that their skills are poor. Because of their lack of skill, they can’t notice their own mistakes. Nor does anyone in their daily life bring those mistakes to their attention. As a result, people with poor skills end up thinking that their skills are above average. In other words, ignorance and incompetence beget overconfidence. Fortunately, this problem can be solved through training. As the unskilled people’s skills improve, their overconfidence melts away.
“There seems to be a distressingly large number of sincere trolls in the United States. I think that the problem stems from failures in our educational system. In the early 20th century, powerful people within our educational establishment decided to promote a method of reading instruction that slows down the rate at which people learn to read and leaves many people functionally illiterate. The rate of learning is so slow that many adults ‘don’t know much about history, don’t know much biology.’ Our educational system also deliberately suppresses the formal teaching of the trivium: grammar, logic and rhetoric. Yet those are the disciplines you must learn if you want to go on to have real intellectual dialogues with other people, about any subject.
“The sincere trolls have never learned how to parse or reason. Thus, they cannot be persuaded by facts. Nor can they recognize the flaws in their own reasoning, even when those flaws are pointed out to them. As a result, they will be unwilling to learn anything until they discover that they have a lot to learn. Yet they will not make that discovery until after they have already learned a lot.”-
Well, which comes first, the chicken or the egg, Ms. Thomas? Or is it just too late? Is the average public school product beyond help or hope? Stephen Lendman gave us some insight into this problem last month, you’ll recall – if you had the chance to read our Vol. XXXI, Art. 39.
“Public Education in America”, was the title of his essay. Here’s some of it.
– “In a June 1950 commencement speech, Boston University President Daniel Marsh said, ‘If the television craze continues … we are destined to have a nation of morons.’
– “In his book, ‘Amusing Ourselves to Death,’ Neil Postman said, ‘Americans are the most entertained and the least informed people in the world. Most know little or nothing about what matters most.’
– “In 1983, the National Committee on Excellence in Education published a report titled, ‘A Nation at Risk; The Imperative for Educational Reform.’ It found academic performance poor at nearly all levels. It warned that America’s system was ‘being eroded by a rising tide of mediocrity.’
– “In his book, ‘Just How Stupid Are We? Facing the Truth About the American Voter,’ Rick Shenkman discussed profound public ignorance. He asked, ‘How much ignorance can a country stand,’ and said one day we’ll find out, perhaps to our dismay. He gave numerous examples:
1. “University of Michigan studies categorize Americans as follows:
– few know much about politics and world affairs;
– around half know enough to answer elementary questions; and
– all others know virtually nothing.
2. – “In the 1980s, only one-fourth understood senators serve six years. Only 30% knew America has 100 senators. Around 49% knew the nation has three branches of government, and few could explain what separation of powers entailed.
– “Less than half knew America dropped the atom bomb on Japan.
– “Only a third know Congress alone can declare war.
3. “In 2011, Newsweek magazine gave 1,000 Americans the US citizenship test. The results showed profound ignorance:
4. 38% failed;
5. 29% couldn’t name the vice president;
6. 73% knew little or nothing about the Cold War;
7. 40% didn’t know why America fought Germany, Japan and Italy in WW II;
8. 63% didn’t know the correct number of Supreme Court justices, let alone their names;
9. 65% knew nothing about the Constitutional Convention;
10. 70% didn’t know the Constitution is the supreme law of the land;;
11. 23% didn’t know Martin Luther King fought for civil rights;
12. 40% couldn’t explain the Bill of Rights; and
13. 6% didn’t know July 4 was Independence day.
“In total, 100 questions were asked. Simple ones included;
– Where’s the White House located?
– Where does Congress meet?
– How many states are there in America?
– Who’s the military Commander-in-chief?
– Name America’s two major political parties.
“Results showed appalling civic ignorance levels. Other tests on reading, math and computer skills are just as dismal. Americans are profoundly ignorant.
“In May 2011, the Chicago Sun Times headlined, ‘Report: Over a third of students entering college need remedial help,’ saying:
“‘Nationally, in 2010, only 24 percent of ACT-tested high school graduates were deemed college-ready in all four subjects tested – English, math, reading and science.’ In addition, most lack computer skills.
“Columbia University’s Community College Research Center found students finish high school unprepared. Around 80% needing remedial help had graduated with GPAs above 3.0.
“University of Illinois Professor Debra Bragg called it ‘a problem for all types of public high schools.’ They don’t teach. They shove students through untaught and unprepared. It’s why a third drop out and never finish. In fact, in America’s 50 largest cities, rates exceed 40%, and in some major ones approach 50%.
“Problems begin in first grade. Columbia University senior research associate Dolores Perin said: ‘Students aren’t learning strong reading and writing skills and math, and the problems get worse and worse. As kids get older, it just gets harder and harder to do well in school,’ no matter what grades they’re given to shove out in preparation for the next crop behind them.
“In contrast, Western Europeans and Asians score much higher on skills mattering most, as well as knowledge of international issues. Whatever deficiencies affect their schools, they way outperform America’s.
“Corporate controlled education reform assures worse ahead. For business, only profits matter. Marketplace solutions don’t work, especially when they sacrifice vital needs for bottom line priorities and prevent children from fulfilling the American dream.
“For growing numbers today, it’s a nightmare getting worse.” –
[Is it any wonder then, that taxpayers stand idly by and ignorantly allow port officials to call for hundreds of millions of dollars for port expansion programs and massive dredging projects?
If Americans educated in our failed public school system had their wits about them they’d realize that port officials clamoring for funding to accommodate those superpanamax container ships are really pulling of a “make-work” scam. Those vessels will never show up.
And why should they? There’s no call for massive amounts of goods from overseas manufacturers right now, and unless some radical changes are made, there’s no reason to think there ever will be.
Does anyone honestly believe that just because the Panama Canal will be wider, Americans will suddenly have the money to buy billions of dollars worth of foreign-made products? That’s dumb.
No jobs, no paychecks, no purchasing power, no demand, no supply, no overloaded container ships.