I just saw a story on the Today show (I enjoy the Today show) about how Americans are getting dumber. Not less intelligent, but dumber. For examples they used the footage of that beauty contestant who tried to explain why Americans couldn’t find Iraq on a map. You know the one I’m talking about, she says, “such as” about 9,000 times. Then they showed Kellie Pickler (I think she was an American Idol contestant) on the show Are You Smarter Than A Fifth Grader…she wasn’t. She didn’t know France was a country! 40% of Americans under 44 didn’t read one book last year! 1 in 4 college students can’t find Iraq on a map. This is the nation that formed the Declaration Of Independence, sent men to the moon, invented sausage gravy, developed the Fender Stratocaster, birthed great minds like Martin Luther King Jr., Muhammad Ali, B.B. King, Jimi Hendrix, Elvis and even Albert Einstein! Oh okay, Einstein was actually born in Ulm, Wurttemberg, Germany. The point, however, is that according to this report many Americans would’ve thought that Einstein was born here! Not you kind reader. I know that all of you who read these blogs are among the intellectual elite. I think it was Sir Francis Bacon who said, “Knowledge is power.” Bacon wasn’t only the namesake of a favorite breakfast food, he was also an English philosopher and statesman. He was knighted in 1603,before many of you were even born! Philosopher must be a pretty good gig. Just sit around and think about the questions of the day. Guys like Plato and Descartes must have had plenty of time to just hang out. Can’t you just see their wives coming home from the fields and asking, “How was your day dear?” “Oh pretty good, I thought about ‘Is an idea a true copy of the real thing that it represents?’ and then I thought about ‘How can physical objects such as chairs and tables, or even physiological processes in the brain, give rise to mental items such as ideas?’ then I thought about ‘If all the contents of awareness are ideas, how can we know that anything exists apart from ideas?’” “After that I made a sandwich and watched TV for a while.
I’d like a gig like that! I think another good gig is a theoretician. Or someone who theorizes. I have a theory that theoreticians are just lazy philosophers. The theoretician just hangs out and doesn’t even make a stand, just a theory. If someone comes along and proves something different, he has the perfect out, “well it was just a theory!” “Hi honey how was your day?” “I didn’t do anything but lay on the couch and form a theory that if I don’t eat a sandwhich, I’ll just get hungrier!” How much could that have paid? Do you think that a theorist would get hired by an even lazier person to form a theory for him? “Hey man, I need a theory about why my paper sometimes ends up in shrubs in front of my house instead of on the porch.” Three hours later, the theorist charges $4.79 for a theory that sometimes the paperboy just doesn’t throw the paper as hard. Niccolò Machiavelli was a theorist. He was also Italian. He probably said “Ciao!” a lot, which I think is pretty cool...if you’re Italian. If you’re not Italian and you say ‘Ciao”, you’re just a jackass. Machiavelli was also a musican and he wrote The Prince. In those days, I guess you had to have more than one gig just to stay afloat. Maybe people worked harder then. That’s probably what made them less dumb than we are today. They probably made fun of guys who only had one job. “Here comes Ned, he’s just a blacksmith!” “I’m a blacksmith/philosopher/writer/musician/camp counselor!” Just remember that no matter what your job is, tonight when your wife asks how was your day, just say, “I worked harder than Machiavelli, I’ll tell you that!”