America dumbs down: a rising tide of anti-intellectual thinking

The United States is being overrun by a wave of anti-science, anti-intellectual thinking. Has the most important, powerful nation on Earth lost its mind?

While 82 per cent of Americans now say they seek out news digitally, the quality of the information they’re getting is suspect.

An aversion to complexity—at least when communicating with the public—can also be seen in the types of answers politicians now provide the media. The average length of a sound bite by a presidential candidate in 1968 was 42.3 seconds. Two decades later, it was 9.8 seconds. Today, it’s just a touch over seven seconds and well on its way to being supplanted by 140-character Twitter bursts.

Little wonder then that distrust—of leaders, institutions, experts, and those who report on them—is rampant.

Instead of educating themselves via the Internet, most people simply use it to validate what they already suspect, wish or believe to be true.

Facing complex choices, uncertain about the consequences of the alternatives, and tasked with balancing the demands of jobs, family and the things that truly interest them with boring policy debates, people either cast their ballots reflexively, or not at all.

Source: America dumbs down: a rising tide of anti-intellectual thinking

Discussions about DRM often land on the fundamental problem with DRM: that it…

The purpose of DRM is not to prevent copyright violations.

The purpose of DRM is to give content providers leverage against creators of playback devices.

Arguing that DRM doesn’t work is, it turns out, missing the point. DRM is working really well in the video and book space. … Had CDs been encrypted, iPods would not have been able to read their content, because the content providers would have been able to use their DRM contracts as leverage to prevent it.

DRM’s purpose is to give content providers control over software and hardware providers, and it is satisfying that purpose well.

As a corollary to this, look at the companies who are pushing for DRM. Of the ones who would have to implement the DRM, they are all companies over which the content providers already, without DRM, have leverage: the companies that both license content from the content providers and create software or hardware players. Because they license content, the content providers already have leverage against them: they can essentially require them to be pro-DRM if they want the content. The people against the DRM are the users, and the player creators who don’t license content. In other words, the people over whom the content producers have no leverage.

Source: Ian Hickson – Google+

One of the saddest lessons of history is this: If we’ve been bamboozled long enough, we tend to reject any evidence of the bamboozle. We’re no longer interested in finding out the truth. The bamboozle has captured us. It’s simply too painful to acknowledge, even to ourselves, that we’ve been taken. Once you give a charlatan power over you, you almost never get it back.

Carl Sagan, 1995, The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark

Cops Must Swear Silence to Access Vehicle Tracking System | WIRED

It’s no secret that police departments around the country are deploying automated license plate readers to build massive databases to identify the location of vehicles. But one company behind this Orwellian tracking system is determined to stay out of the news.

Vigilant is clear about the reason for the secrecy: it’s to prevent customers from “cooperating” with media and calling attention to its database.

Source: Cops Must Swear Silence to Access Vehicle Tracking System | WIRED