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One in four read no books last year

If it's news, but not politics, then it goes here.

Postby wolfsbane » Thu Aug 23, 2007 3:05 pm

Prof. Wagstaff wrote:
wolfsbane wrote:If you can't see a big difference between the TV of today and that of even a few decades ago, I can't help you.

That's because it's all relative.
TV has been called stupid and anti-intellectual since the moment it was first broadcast. You're just the latest in a long line of detractors. "A few decades ago" The Love Boat, The Sonny and Cher Show and Project U.F.O. were among the highest rated programs on TV. A couple decades earlier, we had Strike It Rich, Amos 'n' Andy and boxing courtesy of The Pabst Blue Ribbon Bouts.
wolfsbane wrote: If you can't see a big difference between the intelligence level of Zane Grey novels vs. American Idol or Jerry Springer, I can't help you.

Apples to oranges comparisons are rarely of any value, especially coming from the mouth of someone who accuses others of making straw man arguments.
I mean, you do know that American Idol is just the latest in a series of talent competitions that has existed since the earliest days of television, right? And what possible explanation can you provide for comparing Zane Grey to Jerry Springer? At least choose overlapping demographics!

wolfsbane wrote: There used to be at least some semblance of argumentation in public discourse. Now it is all sound-bytes, talking points, and name-calling.

I apologize for misrepresenting you by substituting "nastier" for "stupider", but you're simply wrong about what political discourse was like in the past. I again call your attention to The Election of 1800:
The campaign was bitter and characterized by slander and personal attacks on both sides. Federalists spread rumors that the Democratic-Republicans were radicals who would murder their opponents, burn churches, and destroy the country.

Those sure sound like talking points, sound bites (please note spelling, Mr. Literacy) and name-calling to me.
wolfsbane wrote:While there may not be a decline in literacy according to broad statistics about minimum levels throughout the entire populous, it's obvious enough in the places where it counts.
In other words, even though you're wrong, you still think you're right. That's some reasoned, slow, deliberate thinking you've done there. I guess the books that disprove your assertion aren't on your reading list, eh?


First, I think Zane Grey is a fair comparison. He was mainstream popular entertainment before television - probably the kind of thing a normal person would turn to in lieu of American Idol.

Yes, I am familiar with the election of 1800. I've read an entire book on it within the last year, in fact, not just a wikipedia article. I find it unbelievable that anyone would try to compare the level of discourse during the election between Jefferson and Adams to Bush vs. Gore. It's famous for the nastiness, but nothing as stupid as television commercials or the Bill O'Reilly show was influencing a large portion of voters. It's obvious you have never read even a single original piece of correspondence or other writing from anyone involved during that time period, or you would be quite embarassed.

As for the last, yet another deliberately obtuse misrepresentation. It's obvious you don't like me, but I can't see why you would let this spur you on into this kind of self-indicting intellectual dishonesty. I explained this. The topic here is the deterioration of political discourse, the overall level of cultural intelligence, and the relative merits of books, movies, and television as media.

Results like the one cited have to do with basic literacy in the overall population. We're not talking about whether a few percent more people can read the classifieds. In fact, the same study cited shows a substantial decline in literacy among college graduates. Higher levels of literacy is obviously what I was talking about:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/co ... 00701.html
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Postby pulsewidth modulation » Thu Aug 23, 2007 3:10 pm

It's not worth confronting Sheppy. He is a character.
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Postby dudemeister » Thu Aug 23, 2007 3:26 pm

I was actually amazed that 75% of the population read a book at all. My guess would have been about 20%. You all have any idea how incredibly stupid people really are? I find it fascinating that the incredibly stupid also read.

Note that I believe they asked something like "did you read any book in the last year?" Not "did you read a book you haven't read before?"

On WPR, they pointed out that some of the more detailed statistics from this showed much of the reading being religious.

Now if you re-read the Bible or the Koran or whatever for the 134th time, that really doesn't count as reading a book. What else are you going to learn on the 134th reading of the same freaking book?

So removing the folks re-reading the same old religious crap, I bet it's back down to 20% of the people reading something new.
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Postby Prof. Wagstaff » Thu Aug 23, 2007 3:35 pm

wolfsbane wrote:It's obvious you have never read even a single original piece of correspondence or other writing from anyone involved during that time period, or you would be quite embarassed.

I've actually read quite a lot about that time period, so I beg to differ with your interpretation. Pointing out that there was no stupid television to influence voters in the days before television is the dumbest thing you've yet offered as "evidence" of your position. And no matter how you slice it, your position is still one of self-proclaimed superiority and arrogance. You know what's best for everyone, and it just so happens to perfectly jibe with your values and notion of entertainment. Go figure.

Furthermore, if you think that the letters written between folks like Jefferson and Adams are indicative of what the average person thought about politics in the early years of our Republic, it's you who's being made to look the fool, not I. If you think "cultural intelligence" is an actual, quantifiable thing and not just the construct of a bunch of bookworms, you're just arguing in circles.

wolfsbane wrote:It's obvious you don't like me, but I can't see why you would let this spur you on into this kind of self-indicting intellectual dishonesty.

Why is it obvious I don't like you? Because I disagree with you? This is what passes for "intellectual honesty" and profound discourse in your world? Pathetic. I don't know you and I don't recall any past topics of conversation we've clashed over. I just happen to think you're full of shit on this topic.

wolfsbane wrote:The topic here is the deterioration of political discourse, the overall level of cultural intelligence, and the relative merits of books, movies, and television as media.

And my position always has been that no particular media is superior to others in any significant way. They're just different. You, on the other hand, keep talking out both sides of your mouth. If you're not arguing for the superiority of books over films and TV, then I'm hard-pressed to uncover a point in your previous ramblings about American Idol and the lack of character development in films.

As for your link, it hurts your argument more than it helps.
The test measures how well adults comprehend basic instructions and tasks through reading -- such as computing costs per ounce of food items, comparing viewpoints on two editorials and reading prescription labels.

In other words, a completely different kind of literacy than the "everyone needs to read more books" kind you've been expounding. Either way, it's still mainly an indictment of higher education, not the population-at-large's lack of culture.
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Postby sylvie » Sun Aug 26, 2007 4:36 am

[quote="Steve Vokers"]I don't think I read a book in the last year. But that doesn't mean I don't read.

I have to do a lot of reading as part of my job, and I also do a lot of news reading. I'm informed on the issues of the day.

What "news reading" ?? Too much current journalism is shallow and ill-informed if not biased. With regard to one of today's biggest topics: how many reporters or editors even know Arabic or any other language for that matter. All you have to do is read a few books on any topic in the news to see how shallow most news reporting is.

Case in point - As the US commenced its illegal 2003 invasion of Iraq and entered Najaf and Karbala, no western news source, not even the BBC, was aware that those two cities are holy to Shiites. As Iranian Shiite pilgrims entered those cities that Saddam Hussein had forbidden them, stupid ill-informed western news media were reporting that Iranians were taking advantage of the US invasion to stir up trouble.

You need more background than what our news media provides to really know what is going on.
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