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ENLIGHTENMENT

What Americans believe, opinion polls

One quip describes our situation, and that of other countries, the people get the government they deserve when such is democratically elected.  The opinion polls below reveal how wise the American people are. 

Democracy is no guarantee that the public weal will be served.  “A democracy exists whenever those who are free and poor are in sovereign control of the government; an oligarchy when the control lies in the hands of the rich and better born.”—Aristotle

 

The production of ideas--especially through media and schools--needs to place as its first obligation that of creating a populace that has a sound factual basis and the reasoning skills to know what best lies in their interest.  This is the base of the pedestal upon which democracy can reach will build good government.

 

 

American Wisdom, what polls have revealed

 

To mark the 200th anniversary of Charles Darwin's birth, Gallup thought it might be a good idea to poll Americans on their beliefs of the British naturalist's theory. But the results must have had Darwin spinning in his grave, since only 39 percent of Americans believed in the theory. The good news: only a quarter said they didn't believe it; the remaining portion either didn't have an opinion or didn't answer. (Also, only 55 percent correctly linked Darwin's name with the theory.) However, it appears that views may, “unevolve”:  younger people believe in evolution at far higher rates than older ones.

It seems obvious that it's not a good idea to put too much stock in witchcraft. But it turns out that 21 percent of Americans believe there are real sorcerers, conjurers, and warlocks out there. And that's just one of the several paranormal beliefs common among Americans, according to Gallup: 41 percent believe in ESP, 32 percent in ghosts, and a quarter in astrology. In fairness, the numbers in this poll are a little old—they date back to 2005. But then again, if people haven't changed their mind since the Enlightenment, it's not clear another half decade would make much difference

Even years after claims that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction or had links to the September 11 attacks had been debunked, not all Americans were convinced. In a June 2007 NEWSWEEK poll, four years after the invasion of Iraq, 41 percent believed Saddam was involved in 9/11—even though President Bush had said otherwise as early as September 2003. Wild views on 9/11 are in fact still rampant. In September 2009, Public Policy Polling found that a quarter of Democrats suspected Bush had something to do with the attacks. Meanwhile, many Americans also remain convinced that Saddam had WMDs, even though inspectors haven't found any in the seven years since the invasion. Still, as of 2006, half of Americans believed that, according to Harris. Who knows where they got that idea?

Didn't we clear this one up in the 16th century? Copernicus be damned, 20 percent of Americans were still sure in 1999 that the sun revolved around the Earth. Gallup, the pollster that conducted the study, gamely tried to dress it up by celebrating the fact that "four out of five Americans know Earth revolves around the sun," but we're not buying.

If mutual understanding is the key to tolerance, we're in trouble. According to NEWSWEEK's 2007 What You Need to Know poll, barely half of Americans were correctly able to state that Judaism was older than both Christianity and Islam. Another 41 percent weren't sure; in case you're in that group, here goes: Judaism is the oldest of the Abrahamic faiths, followed by Christianity—which reveres the Jewish prophets (including Moses, above)—and then Islam, which reveres the Jewish prophets and also hails Jesus as a prophet.

It's hard to imagine what inspired the pollsters at Zogby to ask the question, but the answer is striking: in a 2006 poll, more than three quarters of Americans could name at least two of the seven dwarfs, while not quite a quarter could name two members of the Supreme Court. NEWSWEEK's response is a split decision, if you will: on the one hand, Disney is as much a symbol of America as the high court, and those dwarfs are adorable. On the other hand, it should be easy to name only two out of a pool of nine options. Objection sustained!

Lost? Don't ask an American. Sixty-three percent of young Americans can't find Iraq on a map, despite the ongoing U.S involvement there. Nine out of 10 can't find Afghanistan—even if you give them the advantage of a map limited to Asia. And more than a third of Americans of any age can't identify the continent that's home to the Amazon River, the world's largest.

What a bunch of knuckleheads: according to Zogby, the majority of Americans—three in four—can correctly identify Larry, Curly, and Moe as the Three Stooges. Only two out of five respondents, however, can correctly identify the executive, legislative, and judicial branches as the three wings of government.

No wonder most American’s believe that giving power to the wolves is in the best interest of the lambs.   As proof they elect by a vast majority the two parties that have support the neoliberal agenda--JK.    

 

Email received on US hypocrisy 11/8/8.  Extensively reworked by JK

 

1. Jesus loves you and shares your hatred of homosexuals and liberals.  Greed, avarice, usury, and killing in a preemptive war are no longer sins, and the poor will always be with us.

 

2.  The poor and the infirmed are no longer blessed, but are shiftless, under achievers for whom social assistance ought to be curtailed.  We are compassionate conservatives.      

3. Saddam was a good guy when Reagan armed him, a bad guy when Bush's Daddy made war on him, a good guy when Cheney did business with him, and a bad guy when Bush had to reinforce
U.S. and British hegemony over the oil rich Middle East. 

4. Trade with Cuba is wrong because that country is ran by a Communist dictator who provides housing and medical care for all the Cubans and is loved by the masses, but trade with Pakistan, Nigeria, Uzbekistan run by dictators with horrible human rights record and are hated by the masses, this is in our national interest.

 5. The
United States should get out of the United Nations, that way we won’t have to repeated use our security counsel veto—which we have done more times than all the other countries combined.  And we should continue to ignore the World Court.

 

6.  Better to have half our people go without medical coverage than adopt a socialist plan, such as in Canada, which supplies superior health care at half the cost and covers everyone.  The British NICE system sucks because it only approves treatments that are shown to work best.  The rest of the developed world must be nuts to have socialized medicine. 


7. The best way to improve military morale is to praise the troops in speeches, while slashing veterans' benefits and combat pay.  If they don’t like it, when their stint is over, they can become a mercenary for Blackwater and receive 10 times the pay.[1]


8.  If sex education is kept out of kept out of schools, adolescents won't have sex.  Premarital sex is a sin.  Telling them don’t is the best way to prevent disease and pregnancy. 

9.  A good way to fight terrorism is to conquer an Arab country with lots of oil that didn’t support terrorists, and also for us to side with
Israel when it invades Arab lands. The Moslem zealots will understand. 


10.  The Iraqis should thank us for free them from a dictator and instituting free-market (IMF) economics.  They should thank us because we built permanent U.S. bases throughout their country, denied their newly elected government real power, disband their military but allow them to keep their arms and explosives, took their oil revenues and parked them with the U.S. treasury, permitted our contractors to import cheap labor from Pakistan and elsewhere, left their utilities and hospitals in shambles, and instituted neoliberal (IMF) policies which have ruined their banking and manufacturing base, and caused a sharp drop in pay and employment.   

 

11. Global warming and the evolution of species are junk science, but the book of Genesis’s explanation of creation ought to be taught in science classes; besides we grow more if winters came later, and would save on heating if they were warmer.


12. A President’s deceptive statements about a one-time foundling of his penis by a female aid is an impeachable offense, but a President’s repeated lying to the public, Congress, and the world about weapons of mass destruction for to justify the take over of second riches oil country, that is okay for the 'Decider'.

13. The Supreme Court justices believe that it does not violate the Bill of Rights for police to search without a warranty vehicles, homes, bank records, emails, and phone conversations; for to hold people without bail even when they are not a flight risk; for to permit U.S. attorneys to deceive grand juries by ending judicial review of the proceedings; for to permit a person to be tried twice for the same crime if the charges are different; for military prison guards to torture our citizens, immigrants, and visitors if they are housed in our prison in Cuba; and for employers to sample our bodily fluids for drug usage. 


14. The public has a right to know about Bill’s sex life, but not the goings on that affect our well being, such as  Dick Chaney’s energy planning meetings with Enron and others execs. 


15. The airwaves are no longer a public trust, because now the right of ownership comes first, so decided the Supreme Court during Reagan’s administration when it overturned the fair-and-balanced content requirement passed by Congress in the forties. Now 5 global corporations own the air waves.  They have an ownership right to slant the content and deliberately lie.[2] 


 16. Corporate interests come before the publics’.  Thus the Decider by 'Executive Privilege' and crony appointments has undermined environmental, food safety, product safety, and labor laws, and he has appointed industry advocates to head the departments that were set up to promote the public’s interests.  Obama will continue with industry friendly appointments (as did
Clinton).  The moral consciences of corporate boards are best at deciding what is in the public’s interest.

 

17.  It is alright for politicians to receive funds from the very interests whom their legislation will affect.  It is also alright for Congressmen to trade on insider information. 


18.  The free market system is the best way to serve the public’s needs.  We don’t need pension plans and medical insurance paid for by employers, nor should our government provide these programs, which would be socialistic and inefficient, and deny us the write to be untreated and destitute when to old to work.  The free market thrives on personal responsibility. 

 

19.  Employees will work harder when they are competing with workers in China, Mexico, and India, therefore down with tariffs and unions since they inder this competition.  Moreover, with free trade the drudge manufacturing jobs will go to the underdeveloped countries, and the high-tech and skilled jobs will come here. 

 

20.  Banks and financial institutions serve best the public when they are allowed to compete without restrictions.  Banking regulations screw up the process. 

 

21.  Drug companies have created hundreds of wonder drugs, which we learn about through their direct-to-consumer advertising.  The perks care givers receive for prescribing medicines including cash kick-backs doesn't compromise their decision making.  Published research done by drug companies accurately informs doctors as to the best treatments.  We not only have the most expensive medical system in the world but also the best.  There must be some mistake in the WorldHealth Organizagtion's 40th place ranking.  Government meddling by the Democrats would only lower our ratings. 

 

22.  Our citizens are the best in informed in the world, because they watch Fox, MSN, and CNN news and listen to Rush Limbo.  It was the liberal bias press that caused the defeat of McCain and the Republican Party.  Extreme liberal bias has made most of the European media unfit for U.S. airing.    

 

23.  Lassie fare capitalism works best because competition over profits forces efficiencies which bring down the price and also encourages innovations and product improvements.  Moreover, their advertising provides free television programming while informing us which products are best.  Regulations only decrease the benefits of unregulated competition.  So success has Lassie fare capitalism when compared to socialist nations such as Canada and Sweden, that governments should turn over to corporations the running of our prisons, schools, and utilities. 



[1] That is all changing now, for Blackwater now hires mostly foreign mercenaries at a fraction the cost. 

[2]  A U.S. appellate court held that it was not wrongful termination of employment when 2 Fox News reports were fired for their refusal to make a statement about a drug which they knew to be a lie. 

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The skeptic is one who judges all things according to the evidence.  The common herd affirms many things to a degree well beyond what the evidence supports; and conversely doubts that which is worthy of greater affirmation.  The humanistic skeptic applies a second measure, that of  harm resulting from such beliefs.  Issues of economics and politics, of religion, quackery and corporate medicine, and of imprudent behavior top the harm done list.   Education and scientific psychology are gateways to following the dictates of reason.