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I keep seeing stories about the ignorance of the general public. You usually see this sort of story around election time. The stories typically involve statistics about, for example, what percentage of voters can name the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. (It's John Roberts.) The point of the stories is that the average person is clueless.
While I agree with that point, how does it help the average person to know the name of the Chief Justice?

Another statistic I have been seeing lately is that ten percent of American voters think Obama is a muslim. Your first thought might be that this misunderstanding could influence who becomes the next president of the United States. But ask yourself if any of the people who think Obama is a muslim are likely to vote for a black Democrat under any circumstance. I'm guessing that the ignorance of those voters on that particular point will have no impact on anything.


Realistically, it doesn't matter if you think the sun revolves around the earth as long as you wear sunscreen. Most ignorance is benign. That's lucky because any individual knows a vanishingly small percentage of the things that other people collectively think is important.

If you step it up a level, and consider how many voters understand the complexities of international trade policies, or economics, or national defense, the stakes are higher. If the country gets any one of those things wrong, it's a disaster. But experts always disagree on the complex issues. When knowledgable people can't agree on the best course of action, there's no reason to think ignorance will get you to a worse place than knowledge. The only thing you can know for sure is that the ignorant people wasted less time reading about things that didn't help.

Amazingly, the government still functions, albeit inefficiently, in spite of all this ignorance. It does this simply by observing what didn't work last time and occasionally trying something new next time. Apparently that is enough to limp along. It works for ants and it works for us. Or at least I think it works for ants. I'm actually quite ignorant about ant behavior, but notice how it doesn't matter?


When it comes to picking our next president, I can't decide if I prefer the smooth-talking, inspirational candidate who promises to give my money to people who don't work as hard as I do, or the old, short, ugly, angry guy with one good arm who graduated at the bottom of his class and somehow managed to shag a hot heiress and become a contender for president. It seems dangerous to underestimate that guy.

 
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Jul 7, 2008
Hemantsclone;

Weapons sales to non-US !$%*!$%* require congressional approval, so it wouldn't be arms dealers we would blame for that. As far as 'strategic weapons' go, I'm not sure what you mean exactly. If you mean chemical weapons, nuclear weapons, or biological weapons, I'd be surprised if the US has sold any of those to even our closest allies in quite some time. Also weaponry of that sort is hideously expensive and far out of the reach of third world nations.
Remember that in places like Darfur the scourge are the Janjaweed, or "ghost riders." Men, on horses, with guns. Not exactly high-tech but if the populace is suitably disarmed first still very, very, effective.
For what its worth as well, the USA produces and exports truly astounding amounts of food. Taking control of third world !$%*!$%*! to manipulate future food commodity trading would be highly inefficient at best. Oil, however, well . . . different story.
Rumors from back in the day tell of some very back-door threats to OPEC in the 1970s by of all people, the Carter administration. The tale goes that OPEC was made to understand that war plans were being drawn up to take the oil by force, blood for oil, if you will. I don't know if that rumor was true, but how interesting if it were.
 
 
Jul 6, 2008
From the Middle East & South Asia:

This comes to you from the home of real Oil & real Food, for the attention of the common American public. The world here has no time for unemployed American citizens, even if they happen to be applicants for the post of the president. We will wait till the vacancy is filled and then deal with the guy who occupies the chair. The rest of the unemployed American's are useless anyway.

There is a cause for international attention though.

If the current recession grows as it did in the last century, will America trigger civil disorders in the rest of the world with the help of the unproductive merchants of U.K?

How much is the international recognition of the Dollar relevant to its local value within the geographical boundaries of USA?

Will the American arms industry resort to dumping strategic arms in the third world countries to gain control on the food & oil futures?

In this context now, is it relevant to the rest of the world whether the next Prez is democratic, republican, feudal or aristrocratic?

 
 
Jul 6, 2008
From the Middle East & South Asia:

This comes to you from the home of real Oil & real Food, for the attention of the common American public. The world here has no time for unemployed American citizens, even if they happen to be applicants for the post of the president. We will wait till the vacancy is filled and then deal with the guy who occupies the chair. The rest of the unemployed American's are useless anyway.

There is a cause for international attention though.

If the current recession grows as it did in the last century, will America trigger civil disorders in the rest of the world with the help of the unproductive merchants of U.K?

How much is the international recognition of the Dollar relevant to its local value within the geographical boundaries of USA?

Will the American arms industry resort to dumping strategic arms in the third world countries to gain control on the food & oil futures?

In this context now, is it relevant to the rest of the world whether the next Prez is democratic, republican, feudal or aristrocratic?

 
 
Jul 6, 2008
It seems to me the less people are ignorant, the less the candidates can allow themselves to say ignorant things (or to be ignorant themselves). If all electors think the sun goes around the earth, they might as well elect one of them. And it will have an impact on the policy, at least on the long run (I guess the head of NASA would confirm that).
Maybe we can not ask people not to be ignorant in foreign policy and so on, but a minimal level of education allows at least some filtering in the choice of the candidates.
 
 
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Jul 6, 2008
Are you not watching the Wimbledon final????? We need some expert analysis not from that &*^%@ McEnroe. Thoughts on Nadal/Federer??
 
 
Jul 6, 2008
Another thing I've noticed is underrated is your work, Mr Adams. Many posts states that you dont work any hard at all, but my feeling is that sweat is overrated.
 
 
+1 Rank Up Rank Down
Jul 6, 2008
Personally, I've always liked my leaders to have bad tempers. Its more likely that they will be unable to hide their true feelings, and as a bonus, only the confident or foolish provoke them. In a president this means its likely when some senator-type annoys him, he'll get called a douchebag where everyone can hear. In national defense it means that any attacks get met by over-the-top and way over-the-top reprisals. Can anyone imagine that renowned commie-hater JFK NOT laying a serious smackdown upon offending enemies?
It seems to me that leaders who are too slick and self-controlled end up causing more trouble than they are worth.
 
 
Jul 5, 2008
Mr. Adams, is there any way you can take away the "User Name" preface to our user names?
 
 
Jul 5, 2008
Great post!
 
 
Jul 5, 2008
I know of no one who thinks obama is a muslim; everyone I know thinks he is a racist, anti-American, corrupt, dimwitted marxist.
 
 
Jul 5, 2008
Ignorance is a crime for a community that lives off inventions and consumerism.

Americans are not blessed with an environment where they can live without printed currency as more than half of Indo-China does.

So, guys stop fooling yourselves and belt up. You can buy nothing for nothing.
 
 
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Jul 4, 2008
Don't get me wrong here, I'm a big fan of ignorance, it's practically a lifestyle for me but two things struck me as off here:
'give my money to people who don't work as hard as I do' & 'somehow managed to shag a hot heiress'

It seems to me (without knowing the particulars of what I'm talking about) that the typical day laborer's left foot works harder in an hour than you do in a good month. It also seems to me (again without the particulars) that nailing a hot heiress doesn't make you dangerous, lucky maybe, but not dangerous. This is the kind of thinking that gets Kevin Federline elected.
 
 
Jul 4, 2008
this is a classic:
"When it comes to picking our next president, I can't decide if I prefer the smooth-talking, inspirational candidate who promises to give my money to people who don't work as hard as I do, or the old, short, ugly, angry guy with one good arm who graduated at the bottom of his class and somehow managed to shag a hot heiress and become a contender for president. It seems dangerous to underestimate that guy."

i wish i could fit it on a tee-shirt.
 
 
Jul 4, 2008
Is it not ignorance is lack of knowledge, education, or awareness for what you need to know. If you don't know what you don't have to know , it is ignorance!!!!!!!!!
 
 
Jul 4, 2008
You meant OVERrated...didn't you?
 
 
+1 Rank Up Rank Down
Jul 4, 2008
John Roberts --

Voters who know the name "John Roberts" are 100x more likely to understand the gravity of activist courts & the grandstanding in senate judicial appmnt hearings. The name, yes, is a factoid... but a necessary factoid to a set of much larger considerations.

 
 
Jul 4, 2008
"It does this simply by observing what didn't work last time and occasionally trying something new next time."

Don't be too sure. Politicians who care more about consolidating power than actually improving things are more than willing to repeat failed policies so they can continue to blame the country's problems on the opposing party.
 
 
Jul 4, 2008
How dare you call me ignorant.....Oh look, something shiny.......
 
 
+1 Rank Up Rank Down
Jul 4, 2008
I seriously love it when you take up positions contrary to current societal norms. Plus, I've not laughed this hard for months.
 
 
0 Rank Up Rank Down
Jul 4, 2008
I seriously love it when you take up positions contrary to current societal norms. Plus, I've not laughed this hard for months.
 
 
 
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