Newsweek did another poll that purports to measure our cultural ignorance.
How Dumb Are We?
NEWSWEEK gave 1,000 Americans the U.S. Citizenship Test–38 percent failed. The country’s future is imperiled by our ignorance.
Which brings to mind a chain of reasoning:
1) To increase productivity and therefore decrease prices, we must all participate in a division of knowledge and labor.
2) As productivity in the division of labor increases, the total stock of human knowledge increases.
3) As the stock of human knowledge increases, each of our shares of that knowledge decreases.
4) As our individual shares of that knowledge decrease, our knowledge consists largely of those things that we can act upon given the resources at our disposal.
In other words, people aren’t so much ignorant as they are knowledgeable about what actually matters. They may not have room for the irrelevant.
The general perception, and the presupposition of the boomer-era article’s sentiments, is that political knowledge is valuable. And it implies that we can possess the knowledge needed to understand the issues that our government must manage given it’s current constitution. And it further implies that political freedom is a ‘good’ – when, it’s evident from the record of history that personal freedom is absolutely a good, but political freedom is simply a necessary evil in order to prevent the government from forming a predatory bureaucracy, and treating the population as it’s property. So people only need the minimum knowledge of government needed to preserve their personal freedom.
People aren’t ignorant. They’re too ignorant of political knowledge and economic principles to make political and policy decisions. And that’s not surprising because political decisions are of necessity made in ignorance. And decisions are made in ignorance either out of political necessity or political contrivance. They must be. Because we do not possess sufficient knowledge or DATA in government to make any other form of decision OTHER than decisions of political necessity and political contrivance.
Politics has become ridiculous and irrational because at the scale of our empire, the data no longer exists with which to make rational arguments in real time. The political structure cannot operate without data. And so, like the chinese, we have devolved into sentimental moral arguments rather than practical, political and economic arguments — the furtive gestures and spittled pontification of silly Keynesian probabilists to the contrary.
So it’s good that people are ignorant of it. There is no value in the study of falsehoods.
Maybe Americans are wiser than we think after all.