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Dumbing Down

FoxTrot (animated GIF) FoxTrot (animated GIF) Since the advent of “progressive education” schools have not been intended to educate, but simply to regiment.… Public schooling…does not challenge children to learn or to think creatively, but instead indoctrinates them to conform to their prison-like surroundings.1 What passes for education today, even in our “best” schools and colleges, is a hopeless anachronism.2

Idiocracy - Opening Sequences

Sue Fischer, president of the Association of Washington Educators of Talented and Gifted, says that during the past 15 years, the reading level of textbooks has dropped by two grade levels. That is, what used to be third-grade material is now fifth-grade material.… In other words, textbooks have been “dumbed down.” The result, according to a wide-ranging group including teachers, textbook salesmen, education researchers and government officials, is a more poorly educated student population.3

Non Sequitur (JPG)Ruth Lea, policy director at the [United Kingdom's] Institute of Directors said: “…We’ve now got endemic grade inflation i which is making it harder and harder for employers to discriminate between able and less well able students, and the universities are having the same problem. We are deeply pessimistic about this dumbing down — A-levels are no longer the gold standard they were 20 years ago.” 4

[This] has culminated in the all-too-familiar situation of…education today in which the majority of persons graduating from high school are functionally illiterate and ill-prepared for doing anything else than saying “yes” to Big Brother and his telescreens.5ii

Nothing could be better calculated to produce people uncertain of their goals, people incapable of effective decision-making under conditions of overchoice.6 From the standpoint of the social controllers there are many advantages to keeping the populace stupid, not the least being that the less intelligent a person is, the more susceptible he is to exterior control.7 [Carl Sagan] “knew that if we were to have even a little bit of democracy in this society, as many of us as possible should understand the workings, language, values and methods of science and technology so that we can’t be so easily manipulated.” 8

Can a nation debate the merits of cloning when fewer than half its adults can give a decent definition of DNA? Can it render good judgment on genetically engineered food when only a quarter can define a molecule? And can Americans assess competing medical claims when only a third show a good understanding of the scientific process? Experts see cause for concern in the latest report card on American scientific understanding.…

Dumbing down in action
Nightline (19 March 2008)

In its current form, the survey has been given every two years since 1979 and overall the results haven’t changed much, [senior analyst for the National Science Foundation Melissa] Pollak said.… What bothers Pollak the most is the finding that only about a third of adults showed a good understanding of the scientific process. “This is where science can benefit people in their daily lives,” Pollak said. People get bombarded with claims by psychics and medical quacks, she said, and if they don’t understand about critical thinking and scientific evidence, they can waste time and money. That understanding also helps citizens confront scientific political issues where the media are often content to present both sides of an argument, no matter which side has better evidence, said Shirley M. Malcom, head of education for the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Moreover, experts say, with the spread of technology, workers will have to be able to use it and the critical-thinking and problem-solving skills that should be learned in science classes. There’s another, related concern. How will the United States supply qualified workers for careers in science and technology? Nowadays, the nation leans heavily on foreign help.9iii

i In general, the highest academic grade inflation is in the lowest achieving schools.
— M. Donald Thomas, Ph.D. President Emeritus, School Management Study Group and William Bainbridge, Ph.D. President, SchoolMatch Corporation, Columbus, Ohio, “Grade Inflation: The Current Fraud,” at http://schoolmatch.com/articles/ESRJAN97.htm.

ii Between 21 and 23 percent of the adult population or approximately 44 million people, according to the [1992] National Adult Literacy Survey (NALS),…can read a little but not well enough to fill out an application, read a food label, or read a simple story to a child.… Another 25-28 percent of the adult population, or between 45 and 50 million people,…can perform more complex tasks such as comparing, contrasting, or integrating pieces of information but usually not higher level reading and problem-solving skills.… Literacy experts believe that [these] adults…lack a sufficient foundation of basic skills to function successfully in our society.
— “Facts on Literacy In America,” Literacy Volunteers of America, at http://www.literacyvolunteers.org/about/faqs/facts.html.

iii Some 20 percent of Microsoft’s engineers are of Indian origin.*
— “Bill Gates joins AIDS fight in India,” Yahoo! News UK & Ireland, 11 Nov 2002; See also Reuters, “Microsoft investing in India’s future; Boosting education, partnerships, software development,” MSNBC News, 12 Nov 2002, and “Microsoft to Invest $400 Mln in Indian Projects,” Reuters, 12 Nov 2002.

* Morgan Stanley estimates the number of U.S. jobs outsourced to India will double to about 150,000 in the next three years. Analysts predict as many as two million U.S. white-collar jobs such as programmers, software engineers and applications designers will shift to low cost centers by 2014.
— “U.S. Companies Moving More Jobs Overseas,” Netscape News, 27 Dec 2003.


1 Jim Keith, Mass Control: Engineering Human Consciousness (Lilburn, GA: IllumiNet Press, 1999), pp. 28, 29.

2 Alvin Toffler, Future Shock (Toronto: Bantam Books, 1988, 1970), p. 398.

3 Nancy Montgomery, “Dumbed-down texts too easy, too simple, too boring, critics say,” The Seattle Times, 3 March 1996, p. A1.

4Results ‘a real achievement’,” BBC, 17 Aug 2000.

5 Keith, Mass Control, p. 24.

6 Toffler, Future Shock, p. 417.

7 Keith, Mass Control, p. 24.

8 Ann Druyan (Carl Sagan’s wife), interview with Pete Brady, “Carl Sagan: Visionary Scientist; World-renowned teacher, author and scientist found that cannabis helped him to fully explore the cosmos,” Cannabis Culture #32, Aug/Sep 2001, p. 45.

9 Malcolm Ritter (The Associated Press), “What we don’t know about science could fill books,” The Seattle Times, 19 June 2002.

See also:

Heidi Stevenson, "So-Called Education Intentionally Dumbs Down Americans," 11 May 2008, at http://www.naturalnews.com/023215.html (Retrieved: 11 May 2008).

Despotism (1946)

National Science Foundation