This might be the greatest government conspiracy of them all -- that such a high percentage of high school graduates, hell, even college
graduates, can know so little about so many things.
We've always had a strong anti-intellectual bias in our culture; we refer sneeringly to "eggheads" and disparage the value of "book smarts" as
opposed to "street smarts." Even the word "intellectual" itself carries heavy baggage. Adlai Stevenson lost his presidential bid in large part
due to his being labeled an "intellectual" by the Republican Party. "East Coast Intellectual" or "New York Intellectual" traditionally has been
the conservative politician's code phrase for "Jewish," when courting the bigot's vote.
In America, we're suspicious of, and/or downplay the importance of subject matters outside the traditional "Three R's." History, Geography, Art,
Music, etc. don't help you get a job, and getting a job is the only legitimate reason to get education. There are no rewards for education for its
own sake, or the betterment of one's mind. Unless, of course, you can get on "Jeopardy."
For the powers that be, the nice thing about an only semi-educated populace is not an ignorance of book-learned facts, but the inability to synthesize
one's own ideas into from a widespread grasp of facts. As John D. Rockefeller said, "I want educated workers, not thinkers."
And, of course, with a lack of thought, and a lack of resources for reflection, comes a lack of curiosity and a lack of imagination. It's kind of a
self-feeding cycle of ignorance.
So it's no wonder we lag behind most of the rest of the world in matters of the mind. We lead the world in the construction of prisons, and were in
the top five of nations with the highest per capita prison population. See, we're good for something.
So we're pretty easy to bamboozle -- not a lot of people can "connect the dots," or "put two and two together," or whatever metaphor you prefer.
Nor do they have the desire to. That's
what makes good citizens!