Oh. Mon. Dieu.

And to think… I would have missed this gem, I might have gone through life thinking Ms. Pickler was actually smarter than a sack of hammers (if I thought about Ms. Pickler at all), had the You Tube link not been featured in the sidebar of this NYT story, “Dumb and Dumber: Are Americans Hostile to Knowledge?

But now, Ms. Jacoby said, something different is happening: anti-intellectualism (the attitude that “too much learning can be a dangerous thing”) and anti-rationalism (“the idea that there is no such things as evidence or fact, just opinion”) have fused in a particularly insidious way.

Not only are citizens ignorant about essential scientific, civic and cultural knowledge, she said, but they also don’t think it matters.

She pointed to a 2006 National Geographic poll that found nearly half of 18- to 24-year-olds don’t think it is necessary or important to know where countries in the news are located. So more than three years into the Iraq war, only 23 percent of those with some college could locate Iraq, Iran, Saudi Arabia and Israel on a map.

Ms. Jacoby, dressed in a bright red turtleneck with lipstick to match, was sitting, appropriately, in that temple of knowledge, the New York Public Library’s majestic Beaux Arts building on Fifth Avenue. The author of seven other books, she was a fellow at the library when she first got the idea for this book back in 2001, on 9/11.

Walking home to her Upper East Side apartment, she said, overwhelmed and confused, she stopped at a bar. As she sipped her bloody mary, she quietly listened to two men, neatly dressed in suits. For a second she thought they were going to compare that day’s horrifying attack to the Japanese bombing in 1941 that blew America into World War II:

“This is just like Pearl Harbor,” one of the men said.

The other asked, “What is Pearl Harbor?”

“That was when the Vietnamese dropped bombs in a harbor, and it started the Vietnam War,” the first man replied.

I think I’m going to want to read Jacoby’s book, The Age of American Unreason.

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One thought on “Oh. Mon. Dieu.

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  1. Oh, mon Dieu is just the start of it. Wow. I didn’t think people like this gal existed. Nor the men mentioned from the bar. And they can vote! Quick, is it too late to emigrate or at least be an ex-Pat? 60 Minutes this evening tells us that the Danes are the happiest … because of low expectations.

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