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Brian Ross

Publisher & Editor-in-Chief , TheRossGroupFT LLC

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Ignorance Plagues Progress: Finding New Avenues to End It

Ignorance is the anchor that drags on progress. Technology's rapid advance in less than a handful of decades has created a social, religious and political backlash. Ignorance is not stupidity. Some of the most educated people in the world have been some of the most willfully ignorant. With 5 in 10 adult Americans barely able to read and write, and nearly 9 in 10 exhibiting varying degrees of difficulty in synthesizing information, 2 in 10 taking in any kind of non-entertainment news, how do those who propose to advance humanity "catch up" the vast majority of the planet to become broader, more rational thinkers?

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    Jul 5 2012: I've spent the last couple of months researching more root causes to the highly partisan political turmoil in the United States. It all keeps boiling down to a pair of articles that I wrote, one on ignorance in America and how it shapes the political discourse ( http://truth-2-power.com/2012/06/29/why-negative-political-attack-ads-work-5-in-10-americans-cant-read-8-in-10-cant-process/ ) and one on how academia is being changed by state and federal budget cuts, increased placement of non-academics and business faculty into the management of colleges and universities, and the cash ceiling that is making higher learning too expensive for more poor, middle and upper-middle class American families. (http://truth-2-power.com/2012/07/03/as-much-education-as-they-can-afford-romney-remark-renews-a-different-kind-of-voter-suppression/) Most disturbing was this report on adult literacy: http://nces.ed.gov/pubs2012/2012045.pdf

    Our education system creates a sub-group of 3% of the population that is natively smart. 6% that are higher functioning and get most of it all, and 94% that just don't. Some because of aptitude, on the bell curve won't understand much. The vast majority of Americans, though, on that same bell curve, should be doing far better. Ancient cultural moires are a huge drag on learning, and a huge wellspring of ignorance.

    So how do we leverage our huge advances in information technology, and develop new methods of education? How do we culturally educate the population to be broader-minded socially, politically, and economically? Is it possible to bring religious people "forward" to embrace faith in the scientific realities of the 21st century?
    • Jul 6 2012: I think we have already a great tool - TED. The more people and youth learn about TED the better the world will be.

      I also believe that sites such as Wikipedia and Khan Academy are making great contributions toward decreasing ignorance.

      Finally the breaking down of typical media channels and publishing industry where only a few were choosing what news or information masses will receive the Internet is making revolution in how people learn more from each other (social networks), blogs, youtube and independent publishers.

      I think we will gradually see improvements esp. with the new net generation which has to know how to read and write to use computers, tablets, phones and social networks for example.

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