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850 of 908 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It's True: We See This Everyday, July 2, 2009
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This review is from: Idiot America: How Stupidity Became a Virtue in the Land of the Free (Hardcover)
"Idiot America" is great, informative book about concepts we see everyday. Also, many of the 1-star reviews are likely biased because of some of the political and religious topics noted. I think this book is definitely a full, 5-star book.

The Following comments aren't meant to be particularly negative towards the United States and the concepts in this book aren't exclusive to the USA. The concepts in "idiot America" exist all over the entire world. "Idiot America" is a superbly covered account of something that's very prevalent in the US.

Charles Pierce provides the history of "cranks" (con artists and showmen) from the founding of the nation to current examples today in contemporary America. I focused on TV and Radio because of it's widespread impact on the populace today (even in the age of the growing Internet, which is becoming dominant). Much of TV and Talk Radio promote misinformation based on emotion, histrionics, shock, being loud, and over-the-top attempts to get ratings.

The author notes "The 3 Great Premises: and applies them to many instances in this book:

1. Any theory is valid if it moves units (rating, and making money).
2. Anything can be true if it is said loudly enough.
3. Fact is what enough people believe (the Truth is what you believe).

There are many examples in this book. Here are just a few:

The NAFTA Superhighway, that never was:

Even in the year 2003, a completely false rumor can end up being debated by Congressman, and end up on Lou Dobb's TV show. In 2003, the Texas legislature approved the the Trans Texas Corridor (TTC) to improve road and rail lines to facilitate the movement of good within the state of Texas. Due to modern day mass communication (mostly the Internet) the TTC very quickly turned into a fictitious NAFTA Superhighway. The Superhighway was to be 400 yards wide and stretch from El Paso, TX to Saskatoon, Canada. North to South, East to West. The NAFTA superhighway would be the trade corridor for the newly united states of Canada, US, and Mexico. Congressman were asked their position on the highway by reporters in DC, and many cited their opposition to it and the erosion of America's Sovereignty. Lou Dobbs ran the story on his show on a major American news network. Viewers were "outraged." Silly as this may seem, it reinforces the point that we
cannot automatically trust nor believe the mainstream media.

Intelligent Design:

Religion and politics have merged, and both use the characteristic tactics of brand marketing in the modern marketplace. Church consultant George Barna in 1988 stated that the church has failed "to embrace a marketing orientation in what has become a market-driven environment" (page 131).

After failing to sneak religion into classrooms to get Creationism taught in biology classes, in addition to nation-wide prayer in schools, a new brand was carefully and methodically invented: intelligent design. ID was funded among many, including the owner of Domino's Pizza through a right-wing legal foundation.

A school board tried to sneak ID into the Dover, Delaware school system not by Constitutionality but by marketing. The Intelligent Designers tried to remove a science textbook and replace it with one advocating Intelligent Design. The scientific basis for the ID movement was by the term "irreducible complexity." Under this, if you cannot remove one element with demolishing the system, it proves creationism works. The ID legal strategy in court under 'irreducible complexity' was, bacterial Flagellum. But the micro bacterial flagellum fell apart in court, and a judge ruled that ID was not sufficiently proven to be taught in public science classes in Delaware. Later this judge, who was given the case, was called a "fascist" by Tim O'Reilly on TV, with Pat Robertson calling him "absurd."

POLITICAL TALK RADIO:

One set of rules noted by a professor studying radio discourse:

*Never Be Dull
*Embrace willfully ignorant simplicity
*The American public is stupid; treat them that way
*Always ignore the fact and the public record when it's convenient

TELEVISION: "Television is an emotional medium. It's entertainment, not analysis or reasoned discourse."

In spite of the massive growth of those getting their information from the Internet in recent years (which I think is good if people check the source appropriately) many folks still get their information from TV.

I think TV has devolved so much and become so bad, that instead of becoming more informed on issues, people are actually becoming less informed. When I visit the US, instantly notice how bad television news is, not only on reporting the issues to the public but by its inclusion of tabloid stories. .

How many people do you know, that simply regurgitate the ideas, positions and arguments they see on radio & television? I know and witness this plenty, and yes I sometimes do it myself.

"Idiot America: How Stupidity Became Virtue in the Land of the Free," by Charles Pierce, is an excellent book.
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Comments

Tracked by 10 customers

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Showing 1-10 of 60 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Mar 16, 2010 5:13:57 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Mar 16, 2010 5:14:34 PM PDT
Congrats on a good review, but do you mean Bill instead of Tim O'Reilly, under the ID discussion?

Posted on May 24, 2010 1:29:58 PM PDT
jgcole says:
Also, for your use here the phrase should be "every day" not the word (adjective) "everyday." That is another mistake I see every day. In other words, it's an everyday mistake.

In reply to an earlier post on May 25, 2010 2:32:53 AM PDT
jgcole

dood, if you troll comments looking for editing work...

Posted on May 26, 2010 1:58:15 AM PDT
[Customers don't think this post adds to the discussion. Show post anyway. Show all unhelpful posts.]

Posted on May 30, 2010 2:41:11 AM PDT
J. Cuningham says:
[Customers don't think this post adds to the discussion. Show post anyway. Show all unhelpful posts.]

In reply to an earlier post on May 30, 2010 9:38:42 AM PDT
This book appears to be polarizing, like talk radio or certain TV programs (Glenn Beck vs. Rachel Maddow, for example). I submit that such books as "Idiot America," like talk radio and the referenced TV programs, are written for specific audiences, the author not really caring whether a reader with a different viewpoint reads it or not.

As you know, the reviewers are self-selected, so their opinions hardly represent those of a random sample of readers. Still, if there many positive or negative reviews, I tend to check with my librarian or to peruse the book in a physical bookstore if I think the book might be worth reading.

Posted on Jun 17, 2010 6:07:36 AM PDT
S. Andersen says:
All in All a spot on review. I just have one thing I would take issue with:

"I think TV has devolved so much and become so bad, that instead of becoming more informed on issues, people are actually becoming less informed."

TV was never invented to inform. TV was created to lull the masses and sell products, news ans programming is designed to seperate people into demographics so the "right" products can be displayed at the right time. It never was intended to inform or enlighten.

otherwise a great review.

@ J Cuningham:

If you look at most of the 1-star reviews it is obvious that MANY (just in case your unaware MANY does not mean ALL) have not read the book and just give it 1-star based on their political biases. A good review, like K. Johnsons here, sites SPECIFIC examples from the book that they either like or dislike. A non-review says something like "This book is Lame" or "More Liberal Trash"

Posted on Jun 22, 2010 9:37:23 AM PDT
T. D. Welsh says:
"...many of the 1-star reviews are likely biased because of some of the political and religious topics noted".

Or maybe they were written by idiots?

Posted on Jul 6, 2010 1:00:36 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jul 6, 2010 1:02:40 PM PDT
Uncle Jerry says:
"Much of TV and Talk Radio promote misinformation based on emotion, histrionics, shock, being loud, and over-the-top attempts to get ratings." I actually refer to this as the Howard Stern Syndrome -

When these hucksters saw Howard making a bundle of money as the first uber successful shock jock ($$$$$$) - they jumped on the band wagon (O'Reily too) - I think Don Imus gets credit for inspiring Howard to "go for it" - so lets give him his due.

Not that I haven't laughed out loud at Stern and Imus but the new wave of hacks, cranks, and sensationalist, bombastic ratings heroes saw the winning rating formula Stern used and they too used it to ride to the top of the heap -

What happens to the country in the middle - is tough noogies - they got theirs and they will milk it for as long as they (and their bosses) can - call it the rubber necking of media and these buffoons are willing to be the accidents.

Posted on Jul 6, 2010 1:10:00 PM PDT
Uncle Jerry says:
"How many people do you know, that simply regurgitate the ideas, positions and arguments they see on radio & television?" Thank you for saying that I notice it all the time and it just saddens me that people are so malleable - and do not think for themselves - I mean a verbatim recitation just scares the daylights out of me.

We need a return to independent thinking as a noble concept taught in our schools.

Group think is very dangerous and its short term rush of belonging can turn ugly in a heart beat - just ask the Nazi's right Mr. Beck.....
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