There is no better way to spark debate than to question a person’s beliefs and opinions. These grow from what we see, hear, experience, read and think about. Charles P. Pierce is convinced that carefully thought out opinions, those derived from science and logic, are being trampled by a zealous, poorly informed opposition. He presents his reasons for thinking this in his book, Idiot America – How Stupidity Became a Virtue in the Land of the Free. Pierce believes that this vocal opposition springs from ideas that in the past wouldn’t get any further than a soapbox on the corner of a city street. But today, Pierce thinks these ideas are able to gather a large following because “Idiot America” believes:
– Any theory is valid if it sells books, soaks up ratings, or otherwise moves units.
– Fact is that which enough people believe. Truth is determined by how fervently they believe it.
– Anything can be true if someone says it loudly enough.
Pierce presents a significant number of examples of what he defines as gullibility in both the public’s perception of events, and in decision making by politicians. A few of the issues his book addresses: the Creation-Evolution debate, Artificial Life Support, The War on Terror and Climate Change.
In a 2014 post in Esquire, Mr. Pierce continues to discuss Climate Change. He is passionately anti-anyone who doesn’t believe as he does.
The political viability of climate change denial gets more preposterous by the day, which is not to say that it doesn’t remain effective. We are gradually coming to a consensus of denial in which we see the effects of climate change as a series of random phenomena, to be studied individually, but never to be linked effectively enough to require national action.
Ironically, he doesn’t discuss the fact that it is the Climate Change supporters, and their fear mongering claims of random phenomena, that fuel the fire of climate change denial.
If you believe that the Dinosaurs lived peacefully with humans, and that all living things arrived on the earth about 6000 years ago, you might not like this book. If you are a fan of Rush Limbaugh you also may not like this book. At the very least, however, you should read the book and then peer inside your head to see what you base your opinions on.
2 thoughts on “Forming Opinions in “Idiot America””
Overall I think it’s stupid, but in a way I think these people who don’t believe what scientists consider facts are smart. Knowing there’s no God, and that this world is dying because of Global Warming and what’s really going on with the war on terror is depressing. I personally find it stupid not to believe something just because believing it would make me sad, but I talk to all these ‘stupid’ people and they’re all so freaking happy. I hate being cliche, but as each year goes on I can’t help but feel like ignorance really is bliss. It’s very annoying.
I understand what you are saying. But I think blissful ignorance isn’t the same as stupidity (carelessness or foolishness). There are some things I choose not to to know much about. If I don’t know about them, then they don’t bother me. If I were asked about these subjects, I wouldn’t attempt to express an opinion about them. Stupidity would be if I spouted off an opinion about something I knew nothing about. Even stupider would be to form an opinion based on what I’d heard on TV last week. I know and accept that the world can be a horrific place, but there is really not much I can do about that. I can, however, make a difference in my little corner of the world and that is where I choose to pay attention.
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