Scientific Study Says People Are Too Stupid for Democracy

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Makalakumu

Makalakumu

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Personally, I like the idea of people contributing to society. I would, however, be inclined to make it mandatory, but also recognize that there are other important, valuable ways to contribute to society than just military service.

We've discussed this in passing in other threads. I'd love to see 2 years of compulsory public service after high school, where upon graduation, kids could choose to serve their country in one of a few different ways. Off the top of my head, I think that military service, something like the peace corps for foreign service, and some domestic equivalent, such as Americorps are all great ways in which kids can truly do some good for their country. And by offering a few choices, it allows kids to serve their country without compromising their own principles.

In addition to helping instill a sense of service, it would also create a venue for pulling kids out of the nest and establishing themselves as functioning adults. Other possible benefits would include job training for the kids, potential tuition assistance, and an opportunity to live outside of their childhood homes for a while before making any long term career decisions.

As martial artists we understand that skill development = will + effective technique + repetition. When you remove will from the equation, the most important factor in skill development is removed. It doesn't matter how effective the technique is, it doesn't matter how many times it's repeated, if the will isn't there, the skills aren't going to develop long term. This actually bears out in retention research. If you measure how much information a student retains after taking a course, on average 90% is forgotten after one year. When studying the exceptions, the qualitative factor that appears most often is that the student is interested in the subject and wants to learn it.

This is why oppose all forms of mandatory education or service. It's a waste of time and money from an institutional educational standpoint. This debate is so frustrating because educational researches have known this information for fifty years. Yet, the march toward mandatory standards, service, and compulsion is stronger than ever. Teacher education programs think that the way to counteract the retention problem is by creating more entertaining teachers. The very best teachers are able to increase overall retention by 10 to 15% over one year and are very effective at maximizing initial engagement.

In the students words, they say, "We love our teacher! He cares about us and makes the subject interesting, but it's not something that I'm passionate about."

We cannot instill a sense of anything in anyone if they do not have the seeds of passion for it in the first place. Or as I always say, "education is not something that happens to you, it is something you do for yourself."
 

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As martial artists we understand that skill development = will + effective technique + repetition. When you remove will from the equation, the most important factor in skill development is removed. It doesn't matter how effective the technique is, it doesn't matter how many times it's repeated, if the will isn't there, the skills aren't going to develop long term. This actually bears out in retention research. If you measure how much information a student retains after taking a course, on average 90% is forgotten after one year. When studying the exceptions, the qualitative factor that appears most often is that the student is interested in the subject and wants to learn it.

This is why oppose all forms of mandatory education or service. It's a waste of time and money from an institutional educational standpoint. This debate is so frustrating because educational researches have known this information for fifty years. Yet, the march toward mandatory standards, service, and compulsion is stronger than ever. Teacher education programs think that the way to counteract the retention problem is by creating more entertaining teachers. The very best teachers are able to increase overall retention by 10 to 15% over one year and are very effective at maximizing initial engagement.

In the students words, they say, "We love our teacher! He cares about us and makes the subject interesting, but it's not something that I'm passionate about."

We cannot instill a sense of anything in anyone if they do not have the seeds of passion for it in the first place. Or as I always say, "education is not something that happens to you, it is something you do for yourself."
I don't disagree. I do, however, think that it will serve many positive purposes, and that this is a tangent to the point, although a somewhat close one.

Will every high school graduate be the perfect employee? Of course not. But with enough options, through the various branches of the military, the many different opportunities afforded by the Peace Corps and the similar domestic projects offered by the Americorps, the odds are very good that people will find something they can live with for at least 2 years. Some will find their passion, and others will consider it doing time. Most will be somewhere in the middle, very much like kids who are currently attending high school.

Also, many of the benefits I outlined of a system like this are independent of a child's willingness to learn. It will still provide a mechanism for kids to leave the nest, establish as adults and contribute (some more than others) to the country. For some, it could even the key to breaking a cycle of poverty.
 

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Yes, it is imperative to understand more in order to understand Climate change, global warming, AGW, ACC, they are all way more complex then simply putting chemicals up into the atmosphere. Most people are handed a gross simplification and compelled to accept it as true.



Five minutes on an American's facebook feed will tell you that we make fun of our politicians savagely. LOL!

I watched a series of programmes where the comedian Stephen Fry travelled to every American state. In one episode he talked to an American professor, Peter Gomes from Harvard who told him that we have to remember that if there's an easy way and a hard way the Americans will always take the hard way, it would seem to be true.

Facebook isn't general life you know!
 

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I watched a series of programmes where the comedian Stephen Fry travelled to every American state. In one episode he talked to an American professor, Peter Gomes from Harvard who told him that we have to remember that if there's an easy way and a hard way the Americans will always take the hard way, it would seem to be true.

Facebook isn't general life you know!
This reminds me of the story about the Fisher Space Pen. The pen was developed when our astronauts discovered quickly that a gravity fed, ball point pen would not work in space. Never fear, young Americans. The Fisher company was on the job, developing a cartridge that would not only write in space, but would also work in extreme cold or heat. After years of research, the nitrogen pressurized cartridge was patented in 1965. In 1966, a prototype of the latest model was sent to NASA, where they put it under two years of rigorous testing. Finally, after a journey that had taken several years, the Fisher Space Pen was used on the Apollo 7 project. It performed flawlessly, as you might expect.

The Soviet Cosmonauts, in the meantime, simply used a pencil.
 

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This reminds me of the story about the Fisher Space Pen. The pen was developed when our astronauts discovered quickly that a gravity fed, ball point pen would not work in space. Never fear, young Americans. The Fisher company was on the job, developing a cartridge that would not only write in space, but would also work in extreme cold or heat. After years of research, the nitrogen pressurized cartridge was patented in 1965. In 1966, a prototype of the latest model was sent to NASA, where they put it under two years of rigorous testing. Finally, after a journey that had taken several years, the Fisher Space Pen was used on the Apollo 7 project. It performed flawlessly, as you might expect.

The Soviet Cosmonauts, in the meantime, simply used a pencil.

http://www.snopes.com/business/genius/spacepen.asp
 

celtic_crippler

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It's obvious some people rarely pick up a book... or even bother to "google" something before shooting off at the mouth. Yet another sad reflection of the truth behind the OP.

Freedom isn't free. It requires vigilance and sacrifice. The power-hungry will tirelessy continue to try and take it away; they always have and always will. When the people become complacent and forget (if the ever knew in the first place) what sacrifice is necessary to maintain their freedom, they invariably lose it. Earning the rights of citizenship does not mean you don't have the God-given Rights every human being has. In fact, it would be more appropriate to call the "rights" of citizenship a priviledge, that is earned. Only then, do most people appreciate it.

Heinlein routinely "hid" social commentary within his novels. Anybody that's read or googled him would probably know that.

“The America of my time line is a laboratory example of what can happen to democracies, what has eventually happened to all perfect democracies throughout all histories. A perfect democracy, a ‘warm body’ democracy in which every adult may vote and all votes count equally, has no internal feedback for self-correction. It depends solely on the wisdom and self-restraint of citizens… which is opposed by the folly and lack of self-restraint of other citizens. What is supposed to happen in a democracy is that each sovereign citizen will always vote in the public interest for the safety and welfare of all. But what does happen is that he votes his own self-interest as he sees it… which for the majority translates as ‘Bread and Circuses.’

‘Bread and Circuses’ is the cancer of democracy, the fatal disease for which there is no cure. Democracy often works beautifully at first. But once a state extends the franchise to every warm body, be he producer or parasite, that day marks the beginning of the end of the state. For when the plebs discover that they can vote themselves bread and circuses without limit and that the productive members of the body politic cannot stop them, they will do so, until the state bleeds to death, or in its weakened condition the state succumbs to an invader—the barbarians enter Rome.”
― Robert A. Heinlein
 
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Makalakumu

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I don't disagree. I do, however, think that it will serve many positive purposes, and that this is a tangent to the point, although a somewhat close one.

Will every high school graduate be the perfect employee? Of course not. But with enough options, through the various branches of the military, the many different opportunities afforded by the Peace Corps and the similar domestic projects offered by the Americorps, the odds are very good that people will find something they can live with for at least 2 years. Some will find their passion, and others will consider it doing time. Most will be somewhere in the middle, very much like kids who are currently attending high school.

Also, many of the benefits I outlined of a system like this are independent of a child's willingness to learn. It will still provide a mechanism for kids to leave the nest, establish as adults and contribute (some more than others) to the country. For some, it could even the key to breaking a cycle of poverty.

If people aren't smart enough or aren't informed enough to participatein democracy, then it would seem that the solution is to educate them better. I think this rests on a fundamental assumption needs analysis andcontextual understanding.

That said, why are students forced to go to school? Why are people forced to serve or learn anything? From my research, the root idea that makes this possible traces it's way back to an 18th century German Psychologist named Wilhelm Wundt. Wundt's ideas form the basis for modern education. Before Wundt, education took on a very different form and was much more self directed. What Wundt assumed is that the individual had no soul or no fundamental aspect of their being and therefore was simply a product of their experiences. Therefore, it was possible to direct the development of the individual by controlling their experience. This core idea formed the basis of the Prussian school system where children were placed in a compulsory school and forced to do boring, repetitive, and infantile tasks in order to condition them to accept authority and not question orders. The Prussian school system was a direct result of the defeat the Prussians suffered at the hands of Napoleon. The German intellectual class of the time colluded with the State in order to construct a system of social management. As it turns out, many American intellectuals studied with Wundt and they imported his ideas and Prussian schooling to America. Wundt's ideas were adapted into the science of Behaviorism and were adapted again into Constructivism. Prussian schooling was also exported to countries all across the world. Britain, France, the entire West was taken with it. The Japanese and Chinese were particularly suited for this kind of schooling. A strong tradition of ancestor worship and authoritarian training already existed in those countries.

Therefore, I think the fundamental question we are addressing is, "Was Wundt wrong?"

Wundt stated that there was no soul and that there was no fundamental aspect of the individual and that the individual was a product of their experiences. Therefore, an individual could be shaped by controlling their experience. As it turns out, the Prussians learned that it takes about 10,000 to 20,000 hours of a tightly controlled environment with specific rules that control experience to condition someone to accept authority. It took surprisingly little time for the fruits of this experiment to bear itself out. The army's of Europe could suddenly be flooded with conscripts that would accept authority and not question orders. The Duke of Wellington is famous for saying upon his meeting with Napoleon, "Tomorrow's victory will be won in today's schoolyards."

In my opinion, the ultimate expression of this policy is the horror of World War I. Millions of men followed orders and charged into a hail of bullets and certain death in a war that was completely meaningless. In a sense, Wundt was right and it was possible to crush the individual to a point where even the so called instinct of self preservation was lost.

The downside of this was a social stagnation that destroyed difference of perspective and creativity. At the same time that Prussian schooling was changing the social fabric of Europe, millions of immigrants were fleeing to America in order to escape oppression. A lot of my German ancestors fled after 1848 and a wave of conscription rolled over the countryside. They came to this country with the idea that they would build a new life and guide their own experience. Early American immigrants were highly motivated to become educated and eagerly taught themselves and their children how to read. They collected books and spent their spare time in a process of self education that allowed people to develop their own interests to the greatest degree. This is one of the reasons why America became the center of innovation around the world and why at one time 90% of the new patents issued were coming from America. In the mid 1800s, a Frenchman name Alexis de Tocqueville came to this country and marveled at how literate and well spoken Americans had become. In comparison to the peasants of Europe, even the meanest American farmer was more lettered and cultured. Literacy rates in America regularly rose into the mid 90 percentiles.

Yet, Prussian schooling was installed in our country, eventually. People resisted this new type of schooling whenever it was implemented. Even into the early 1900s, American immigrants would riot when the schools that they supported were replaced by the "modern" schools. They would write the papers and say, "we will not send our children to these schools. This is why we left." The State, understanding that it had an unwilling populace on it's hands, decided to go with the gradual approach. The first compulsory school was started in Massachusetts in 1840. Children were required to attend three weeks a year in order to help new immigrants assimilate into American culture. The concept of this type of school spread and the time that children were required to attend was gradually increased.

After the Civil War, a new desire from the State to create a national consensus, pushed this type of schooling farther and faster than every before. New slaves were integrated into the mix and it was argued that they were too untrustworthy to educate themselves and therefore needed "modern" school. This caused this new paradigm of school to spread throughout the South. Still, American individualism was not easily overcome.

By the turn of the 19th century, modern industrialists discovered that they could not compete with faster and nimbler entrepreneurs. They called this over production and they became interested in foisting this type of education nationwide. All of the major educational foundations were started at this time. The Rockefeller Foundation, the Carnagie Foundation, the Ford Foundation, all of them contributed millions to the major colleges of education and they completely remade the fabric of academia. They paid individuals to go to Europe and study with the schoolmasters over there in order to bring that system over here.

By the Early 1900s, the entirety of the Federal government was behind this education revolution. The educational foundations were guiding this purpose.

John D. Rockefeller tells us the mission of his foundation and of the goals of its educational programs.

“In our dreams, people yield themselves with perfect docility to our molding hands. The present educational conventions [intellectual and character education] fade from our minds, and unhampered by tradition, we work our own good will upon a grateful and responsive folk. We shall not try to make these people or any of their children into philosophers or men of learning or men of science. We have not to raise up from among them authors, educators, poets or men of letters. We shall not search for embryo great artists, painters, musicians, nor lawyers, doctors, preachers, politicians, statesmen, of whom we have ample supply. The task we set before ourselves is very simple...we will organize children...and teach them to do in a perfect way the things their fathers and mothers are doing in an imperfect way.”

This thinking guided the transformation of education by influencing some of the most powerful people in the nation. For example, President Woodrow Wilson stated, "We want one class to have a liberal education. We want another class, a very much larger class of necessity, to forgo the privilege of a liberal education and fit themselves to perform specific difficult manual tasks."

In 1918, Benjamin Kidd, a member of the Education Trust, which was composed of foundation representatives from Rockefeller, Carnegie, Harvard, Stanford, the University of Chicago, and the National Education Association, said, "school was to impose on the young the ideal of subordination.”

In 1918, the Alexander Inglis, an emeritus professor at Harvard, who now has a lectern named after him, wrote a book called "Principles of Secondary Education." We can trace the origin of our overall school structure in the US to this book and this time. This is because Inglis was specifically writing a book that would be pushed by the major industrial foundations in order to change the paradigm of American education.

In the book, Inglis describes the six main functions of secondary school. They are the adjustive or adaptive function, the integrating function, the diagnostic and directive function, the differentiating function, the selective function, and the propaedeutic function. The school system laid out in Inglis’ book was designed to promote these six functions and we can still find evidence of their presence today.

1) The adaptive function (schools are to establish fixed habits of reaction to authority the bells, the trivial rules, and rewards and punishments are nothing more than a Pavlovian training method designed to accustom students to a life of top down instruction).

2) The integrating function (this might well be called "the conformity function," because its intention is to make children as alike as possible. Standardized testing is the epitome of this function. Every unit will be strictly controlled for quality like a McDonald’s cheeseburger).

3) The diagnostic and directive function (school is meant to determine each student's proper social role. The numbers and letters that we assign to bits of knowledge and acts of behavior are to be used to determine a student’s future despite the assumptions that went into their assignation).

4) The differentiating function (once their social role has been "diagnosed," children are to be sorted by role and trained only so far as their destination in the social machine merits - and not one step further. Development of the mind beyond that which is required for basic instruction in social roles is not only waste of resources, it is dangerous for social order).

5) The selective function (schools are meant to tag students with poor grades, remedial placement, and other diagnoses in order to identify the “unfit” for further intervention. This is a eugenics program as defined by Sir Francis Galton, the father of eugenics and whose ideas spawned a program that was funded in the United States by John D. Rockefeller. We used to direct these “tagged” individuals into forced sterilization programs, now we cram them full of pharmaceuticals and deny them opportunities for social advancement.

6) The propaedeutic function (the societal system implied by these rules will require an elite group of caretakers. School trains students for managers. The etymology of the word pedagogy comes from the Greek word paidagogos, who were a class of slaves whose responsibility it was to guide students through the lessons of the masters. Students will learn fixed habits of reaction to authority, how to shift from one person giving instruction to another, and how to obey without question and without the weight of troubling ethics).

Consequently, a generation later, many academics found all of this to be abhorrent. The eminent Jacques Ellul related his ideas on the effect of government propaganda in schools by stating:

The individual can no longer judge for himself because he inescapably relates his thoughts to the entire complex of values and prejudices established by propaganda. With regard to political situations, he is given ready-made value judgments invested with the power of the truth by the word of experts. The individual has no chance to exercise his judgment either on principal questions or on their implication; this leads to the atrophy of a faculty not comfortably exercised under the best conditions. Once personal judgment and critical faculties have disappeared or have atrophied, they will not simply reappear when propaganda is suppressed. Years of intellectual and spiritual education would be needed to restore such faculties. The student, if deprived of one propaganda, will immediately adopt another, this will spare him the agony of finding himself vis a vis some event without a ready-made opinion.

Ellul’s comment could very well have been made in 2013. This is because the structure that Inglis laid out still exists and bears fruit. We can see the branches on the tree taking the form of ritual boredom, constant shifting of subjects despite individual interest, the lack of real application, the rote memorization, the humiliation, the constant testing of government approved content, the degradation of opportunity for personal expression. The list goes on and on. We attempt to teach children that there is joy in learning yet the structure of the institution crushes that sentiment before it ever has a chance to grow.

The set of assumptions that the structures of education now use, are still passively churning out the designed results. In order to truly change the system, we need to tackle the assumptions and the structures that act as its foundation. This is necessary to affect any meaningful reform for education in our time. This is why research into the foundations of the educational system is so important and this is why I want to be a part of it.

There is an old saying that states, “When all you have is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail.” I would like to amend this statement in order to reflect the nature of institution that we belong to say, “If every student is a nail, then all you’ll ever need is a hammer.”

This is why the American voter is so dumb. They have no chance to keep up with the complexities of society with the type of schooling they receive. It is possible to crush the individual, our society does it with about 15,000 hours of compulsory education, but there will be a price...our creativity, our happiness, our wealth, and our liberty.

 
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Tez3

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It's obvious some people rarely pick up a book... or even bother to "google" something before shooting off at the mouth. Yet another sad reflection of the truth behind the OP.

Freedom isn't free. It requires vigilance and sacrifice. The power-hungry will tirelessy continue to try and take it away; they always have and always will. When the people become complacent and forget (if the ever knew in the first place) what sacrifice is necessary to maintain their freedom, they invariably lose it. Earning the rights of citizenship does not mean you don't have the God-given Rights every human being has. In fact, it would be more appropriate to call the "rights" of citizenship a priviledge, that is earned. Only then, do most people appreciate it.

Heinlein routinely "hid" social commentary within his novels. Anybody that's read or googled him would probably know that.

And? A good many authors routinely use 'social commentary' in their books, it doesn't mean they are correct or that it's actually anything more than their opinion. If you find something that resonates with you in a particular authors writings that's good for you but it doesn't meant everyone has the same thoughts or feelings about it as you do. Casually dismissing people who disagree with you as being non readers stunts intelligent debate.

How much freedom do you think you actually have?
 

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I just think that people who can't seem to make good decisions in their personal lives shouldn't be permitted to make decisions regarding ALL of our lives.
 

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And? A good many authors routinely use 'social commentary' in their books, it doesn't mean they are correct or that it's actually anything more than their opinion. If you find something that resonates with you in a particular authors writings that's good for you but it doesn't meant everyone has the same thoughts or feelings about it as you do. Casually dismissing people who disagree with you as being non readers stunts intelligent debate.

How much freedom do you think you actually have?

I have no idea why but this "social commentary" made me think of Lu Xun, Diary of a Madman...speaking of books
 

Tez3

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I have no idea why but this "social commentary" made me think of Lu Xun, Diary of a Madman...speaking of books

Well there's also Dickens, Orwell, CP Snow, Golding, Huxley, Atwood, Vonnegut, Hugo,Wilde, Wiesel, Miller, Conrad, Shaw, Ashiguru and even Jane Austen. yer Yer pays yer money and takes your choice.

Instructor, who decides what are bad decisions though? for many a woman having an abortion is a bad choice, whereas to many others it's not so who's to say who's right and who's wrong? How do we decide who is making 'right' decisions and who's not and how does that gel with the idea of freedom for everyone? What if others see your decisions which you may have come to after much thought are really bad ones and you should have no say in the election/votng process?
Is there any 'perfect' system or even any workable system?
 

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Well there's also Dickens, Orwell, CP Snow, Golding, Huxley, Atwood, Vonnegut, Hugo,Wilde, Wiesel, Miller, Conrad, Shaw, Ashiguru and even Jane Austen. yer Yer pays yer money and takes your choice.

Instructor, who decides what are bad decisions though? for many a woman having an abortion is a bad choice, whereas to many others it's not so who's to say who's right and who's wrong? How do we decide who is making 'right' decisions and who's not and how does that gel with the idea of freedom for everyone? What if others see your decisions which you may have come to after much thought are really bad ones and you should have no say in the election/votng process?
Is there any 'perfect' system or even any workable system?

You forgot Twain :D

I think the reason I thought Lu Xun was probably “Social Commentary” combined with the "doesn't mean they are correct" part. Lu Xun was making rather negative social commentary on Traditional Chinese Society and values and Mao thought it was great stuff :asian:
 

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Orwell's a great one too IMHO...

Anyway, back to the topic...

The survival of our Republic depends greatly on an educated public. :deadhorse

I would extend that "education" to exeriencing some sort of sacrifice by those capable of electing our leaders. It's a simple philosophy, really... Those who sacrifice blood, sweat, and tears for what they get tend to appreciate the fruits of their efforts a lot more than those who are simply handed it lest we end up with "bread and circuses." You'd think a martial artist would appreciate that fact... at least the ones who earned their rank anyway.
 

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Orwell's a great one too IMHO...

Anyway, back to the topic...

The survival of our Republic depends greatly on an educated public. :deadhorse

I would extend that "education" to exeriencing some sort of sacrifice by those capable of electing our leaders. It's a simple philosophy, really... Those who sacrifice blood, sweat, and tears for what they get tend to appreciate the fruits of their efforts a lot more than those who are simply handed it lest we end up with "bread and circuses." You'd think a martial artist would appreciate that fact... at least the ones who earned their rank anyway.
What sorts of sacrifice would you deem to be acceptable?
 

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You would need checks and balances to make sure you didn't end up with a Soviet/Nazi/Maoist type of society with corps of people doing 'good works', you coul be handing even more power to those 'in charge'. By having so many young people in what is basically government workplaces/camps/corps you have the ideal opportunity to indoctrinate rather than educate. You could end up with panels of people deciding who is 'worthy' and who is not. It sounds to be honest a nightmare scenerio.
There's nothing wrong with service, several organisations have that as their basis but I'm surprised that Americans who complain about too much government intrference would want them organising such types of organisations. As for military service, modern armies have no use for conscripts, they like the volunteer.
 

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