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One means of bringing about thought reform is by “dumbing down” the population so it has less experience from which to draw. Throughout the 1980s and into the mid-1990s, “the reading level of textbooks…dropped by two grade levels. That is, what used to be third-grade material is now fifth-grade material,” writes Nancy Montgomery in her 1996 article “Dumbed-down texts too easy, too simple, too boring, critics say” for The Seattle Times newspaper.1
According to the ProLiteracy website, “In the U.S., 30 million people over age 16 – 14 percent of the country’s adult population – don’t read well enough to understand a newspaper story written at the eighth grade level or fill out a job application.” 2 They also reported that the 1992 National Adult Literacy Survey discovered that up to 51 percent of American adults “lack a sufficient foundation of basic skills to function successfully in our society.” 3 A 2002 Seattle Times article entitled “What we don’t know about science could fill books” reported the National Science Foundation discovering “that only about a third of adults showed a good understanding of the scientific process.” 4
Carl Sagan, whose television series “Cosmos” popularized science, “knew that if we were to have even a little bit of democracy in this society, as many of us as possible should understand the workings, language, values and methods of science and technology so that we can’t be so easily manipulated.” 5
Jim Keith writes in Mass Control: Engineering Human Consciousness that “since the advent of ‘progressive education’ schools have not been intended to educate, but simply to regiment.… [Public school] does not challenge children to learn or to think creatively, but instead indoctrinates them to conform to their prison-like surroundings.” 6 Today’s schools are producing young adults primed to follow orders rather than think critically. According to Alvin Toffler in his landmark 1970 book Future Shock, “nothing could be better calculated to produce people uncertain of their goals, people incapable of effective decision-making under conditions of overchoice.” 7
“Who benefits when the great mass of people becomes complaisant, unable to think, unable to entertain themselves, and interested only in possessions?” asks Heidi Stevenson in “So-Called Education Intentionally Dumbs Down Americans” for Natural News Network. “The answer is simple: corporations. When the mass of children are forced to go through a system that destroys creativity and rewards group-think, they are prepared to fill their predestined roles in a lockstep workforce and unthinking consumption corps.” The article continues:
In 1918, Alexander Inglis, for whom a Harvard lecture hall was named, published the definitive book, Principles of Secondary Education, which defines modern schooling. He specifically stated that its purpose is to support a command economy and society. This book describes modern “education’s” design.… According to Inglis, there are six functions filled by the new mandatory “education” system:
1. Adjustive: Creating reflexive, fixed responses, as opposed to creative thinking.
2. Integrative: Making children conform, making them be predictable and easy to manipulate in a large labor force.
3. Diagnosis and Direction: Schools are intended to identify and enforce each child’s role in society and the labor force.
4. Differentiation: Once diagnosed, children are trained as far as their role in labor has been determined.
5. Selection: Children are tagged with punishments, poor grades, poor classroom placement, and any other humiliation that can be thought of. The purpose is to separate out those the system determines to be unfit and allow them to be treated as inferiors by the rest.
6. Preparation (called propaedeutic by Inglis): Those few deemed to be leaders, often only by their birth, are taught to be the controllers of the masses described in the other five functions.8
The average IQ is considered to be 100 for a target population. Given that education has been dumbed down by several grade levels since World War Two, today’s average 100 IQ would have been much lower in previous generations. “Technology is changing the world to such a large extent that many children know how to use a computer or a smartphone but cannot ride a bike, swim, make breakfast or even tie their own shoelaces,” reports the TechEYE.net website referring to the internet security firm AVG study which “surveyed 2,200 mothers of children under five who had internet access as part of the Digital Diaries series of studies, highlighting how exposed children are to technology.” The article continues:
It was revealed that 58 percent of the children in the two to five year old bracket had mastered how to play a basic computer game, with the figure jumping to 70 percent for children in the UK and France, showing the prevalence of video games for toddlers.
Even in the two to three year old bracket nearly half, 44 percent, were able to play a computer game. In comparison, only 43 percent of the same age knew how to ride a bike, one of the first skills learned in childhood.
19 percent of children aged two to five are smart enough to use a smartphone, but only nine percent of the same age group can tie their shoelaces, one of the most basic life skills we’re thought. 21 percent of four to five year olds knew how to use a smartphone app, while 17 percent of two to three olds had the same skill, showing that children are being exposed to technology at an even younger age.
The report also found that there is very little gender divide in terms of technology skills, with 58 percent of boys knowing how to play a computer game, compared to 59 percent of girls. Likewise, 28 percent of boys could make a mobile phone call, compared to 29 percent of girls.
25 percent of young children could open a web browser, but only 20 percent could swim unaided, so parents may need to keep an eye on their youngsters on the PC just as much as in the pool.
Older mothers were seen as better at teaching life skills, with 40 percent of over 35s teaching their toddlers how to write their own name, compared to only 35 percent of mothers under 35. Let’s hope they’re teaching them to value their family more than social networking at least, since a previous study revealed that Facebook and the like was more important.
More European young children had technology skills than US children, with 44 percent of children in Italy able to make a mobile phone call, compared to 25 percent in the US. 70 percent of children in the UK could play a computer game, compared to 61 percent in the US, and 78 percent of kids in France could use a mouse, compared to 67 percent in the US.
AVG said that parents need to take these findings into consideration, because with children using technology at a younger age it means parents need to teach them computer and online safety earlier than previously expected. They might want to teach them how to tie their shoelaces while they’re at it.9
1 Nancy Montgomery, “Dumbed-down texts too easy, too simple, too boring, critics say,” The Seattle Times, 3 March 1996, p. A1.
2 Basic Facts about Literacy, ProLiteracy, 10 February 2011, at http://www.literacyvolunteers.org/NetCommunity/Page.aspx?pid=335&srcid=191 (retrieved: 12 March 2011).
3 “Facts on Literacy In America,” Literacy Volunteers of America, at http://www.literacyvolunteers.org/about/faqs/facts.html (retrieved: March 2006).
4 Malcolm Ritter (The Associated Press), “What we don’t know about science could fill books,” The Seattle Times, 19 June 2002.
5 Ann Druyan (Carl Sagan’s wife), interview with Pete Brady, “Carl Sagan: Visionary Scientist; World-renowned teacher, author and scientist found that cannabis helped him to fully explore the cosmos,” Cannabis Culture #32, Aug/Sep 2001, p. 45.
6 Jim Keith, Mass Control: Engineering Human Consciousness (Lilburn, GA: IllumiNet Press, 1999), pp. 28, 29.
7 Alvin Toffler, Future Shock (Toronto: Bantam Books, 1988, 1970), p. 398.
8 Heidi Stevenson, “So-Called Education Intentionally Dumbs Down Americans,” 11 May 2008, at http://www.naturalnews.com/023215.html (Retrieved: 12 March 2011).
9 Dean Wilson, “More children can use a smartphone than tie their shoelaces,” TechEYE.net, 19 January 2011, at http://www.techeye.net/internet/more-children-can-use-a-smartphone-than-tie-their-shoelaces (retrieved: 25 May 2011); See also: Charlotte Hilton Andersen, “Smartphones Before Shoelaces: Are Kids Too Techy Too Early?” Redbook, reported at http://shine.yahoo.com/channel/parenting/smartphones-before-shoelaces-are-kids-too-techy-too-early-2444762 (retrieved: 25 May 2011).
“Dumbing Down,” SkewsMe.com, at http://www.skewsme.com/dumbdown.html (retrieved: 23 October 2008).
“Dumbing down,” Wikipedia.org, at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dumbing_down (retrieved: 23 October 2008).
The Carl Sagan Portal, at http://www.carlsagan.com/ (retrieved: 23 October 2008).
National Science Foundation, at http://www.nsf.gov/ (retrieved: 23 October 2008).
John Dewey Project on Progressive Education, The University of Vermont, http://www.uvm.edu/~dewey/ (retrieved: 23 October 2008).
“Americans are NOT stupid – WITH SUBTITLES,” eroncoelho video at YouTube.com, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fJuNgBkloFE (retrieved: 12 March 2011). (Watch it here)
“First 10 minutes of Idiocracy (Clip 1),” video at Spike.com, http://www.spike.com/video-clips/f8drn8/first-10-minutes-of-idiocracy-clip-1 (retrieved: 12 March 2011). (Watch it here)
“RSA Animate – Changing Education Paradigms,” theRSAorg video at YouTube.com, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zDZFcDGpL4U (retrieved: 12 March 2011). (Watch it here)
“Creationists Pollute Young Minds at Museum on Nightline,” Nightline (ABC News), 19 March 2008, xrayman7040 video at YouTube.com, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9D8AeiAamjY (retrieved: 12 March 2011). (Watch it here)