The New York Times online provoked a spirited debate yesterday with the question: Are American’s hostile to knowledge? Nearly 1000 weighed in on the comment board, which accompanied an article describing Susan Jacoby’s new book: The Age of American Unreason.
Jacoby decries what she describes as an American culture of widespread ignorance and anti-intellectualism, citing the alarming results of the 2006 National Geographic-Roper Survey of Geographic Literacy as evidence in support of her claim.
Here’s how a selection of contributors responded:
“Americans miss out on global knowledge due to their innate
egocentrism. Institutions, as well as government, foster a sense that the world
revolves around the
“Is it perception or fact? And does it permeate throughout all sectors of US society. [sic] I believe that there are certain groups of people that have never bothered to know anything beyond the end of there noses and that is just fine with them. It speaks badly for them because their ignorance shows through, but worse than that gives an image about Americans to the outside world that says, “yes we’re dumb, but so what, we’re comfortable in our skin being that way.”
“There is a tradition of anti-intellectualism in the
These crises of geographic/global illiteracy and educational oversight are of fundamental concern to the My Wonderful World campaign, our international studies colleagues at the ISSA conference, environmental studies advocates, and many others in the educational arena and beyond.
Tell us: What do you think about Jacoby’s book and the comments posted on NYTimes.com? Are Americans hostile to knowledge, in general? And more specifically: Are Americans hostile to global knowledge?
I’ll offer my own perspective on this after the
Happy Presidents’ Day!
Sarah for My Wonderful World