What is in a name?

Dumbing down is the deliberate oversimplification of intellectual content within education, literature, cinema, news, and culture in order to relate to those unable to assimilate more sophisticated information. [1]

By now, you have almost certainly noticed the name of the web site you are now browsing. If not, please give it a quick glance. Now, I am sure there are a number of different interpretations you derive from the domain name.

And I won’t make any suggestions as to which one you should choose.

The idea for this web site came to me during a conversation. And it was that conversation that encouraged me to go further than the idea and actually purchase the name and find a hosting provider that fit within my budget.

If any one of you is familiar with the Internet the chance is good that you will have either heard it likened to a intellectual wasteland. And while for many aspects of the Internet this is certainly true it also offers students many means of study they did no have before.

Before you correct me, I will acknowledged your concerns of inaccuracy in information. But I would counter argue that these same inaccuracies have been present in traditional media as well. And that these same anti-intellectualism tendencies have been present far longer.

I have personally experienced incorrect outdated information in:

  • Encylcopedias
  • Dictionaris
  • News Magazines

Corrections were made, albeit, in various degrees of speed. An encyclopedia or dictionary take much longer to publish a correction that a magazine. And I would hazard to guess many people still own and refer to these works even today.

And while all of these are legitimate sources of information, other forms of media have take a much more relaxed approach to accuracy.

This makes the task of fact checking and cross referencing an important tool in your toolbox. And one you hopefully used prior to research online.

The Internet for many of us is a toy, a place to meet and engage our friends and family. It is a waste of time, and it can lead to a dumbing down or society, an act of intellectual suicide.

If you are familiar with teacher and author John Taylor Gatto you will have read his book, “Dumbing Us Down: The Hidden Curriculum of Compulsory Schooling” (1992,2002 ISBN: 0-86571-448-7).

In Mr. Gatto’s 1991 acceptance speech for the New York Teacher of the Year Award (1990) he speculated, and I quote:

Was it possible, I had been hired, not to enlarge children’s power, but to diminish it? That seemed crazy, on the face of it, but slowly, I began to realize that the bells and confinement, the crazy sequences, the age-segregation, the lack of privacy, the constant surveillance, and all the rest of the national curriculum of schooling were designed exactly as if someone had set out to prevent children from learning how to think, and act, to coax them into addiction and dependent behavior.

When avenues, geared toward learning are speculated at furthering the dumbing of society, it is no wonder that other forms shared knowledge and experience, no matter the media are effected at an equal or greater level.

Welcome to Intellectual Suicide.