Tuesday, June 20, 2017

People Who Want to Believe That Americans Are Stupid

My wife shared with me a collection of items that are meant to show just how stupid Americans are. Among them: 24% of Americans don't know the Earth revolves around the Sun.

Is there a charitable explanation for this? Can we agree that these two questions are not equally difficult?

What does the Earth revolve around?

Does the Earth revolve around the Sun, the Moon, Mars, or Venus?

The first question is going to get a lot of people who answer "its axis" because they've confused rotation and revolution. But this doesn't mean they believe in a Jupiter-centric solar system or something. It means that most of us don't use the terms "rotation" and "revolution" regularly and so are rusty on their meanings.

Why does this article take such an uncharitable approach? What type of people want to believe that Americans are stupid? I can think of two types: those who want to feel superior to their peers (these are the people who wear "I see dumb people" t-shirts), and those who want to explain some aspect of modern America (e.g.: its president) as a result of American stupidity.

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