You are currently browsing the tag archive for the ‘Bill Moyers’ tag.

AmericanUnreason   I would recommend adding this to your reading lists, I’m only a third of the way though, but it has been a detailed and interesting account of genesis and growth of the large mean streak of anti-intellectualism that is currently dominating the zeitgeist of American society.  Jacoby was interviewed by Bill Moyers and thus, allow me to wet your whistle with an excerpt from the transcript.

SUSAN JACOBY: Now, this was not always the case in our country. In the 19th century Robert Ingersoll, whom we’ve talked, who is known as the great agnostic, had audiences full of people who didn’t agree with him. But they wanted to hear what he had to say. And they wanted to see whether the devil really has horns. And now what we have is a situation in which people go to hear people they already agree with. What’s going on is not so much education as reinforcement of the opinions you already have.

BILL MOYERS: Yeah, why is it we’re so unwilling to give, as you say, a hearing to contradictory viewpoints? Or to imagine that we might learn something from someone who disagrees with us?

SUSAN JACOBY: Well, I think part of it is part of a larger thing that is making our culture dumber. We have, really, over the past 40 years, gotten shorter and shorter and shorter attention spans. One of the most important studies I’ve found, and I’ve put in this chapter, they call it Infantainment– on this book. It’s by the Kaiser Family Foundation. And they’ve found that children under six spend two hours a day watching television and video on average. But only 39 minutes a day being read to by their parents.

Well, you don’t need a scientific study to know that if you’re not read to by your parents, if most of your entertainment when you’re in those very formative years is looking at a screen, you value what you do. And I don’t see how people can learn to concentrate and read if they watch television when they’re very young as opposed to having their parents read to them. The fact is when you’re watching television, whether it’s an infant or you or I, or staring glazedly at a video screen, you’re not doing something else.

BILL MOYERS: What does it say to you, Susan, that half of American adults believe in ghosts? Now I take these from your book. One-third believe in astrology. Three quarters believe in angels. And four-fifths believe in miracles.

SUSAN JACOBY: I think even more important than the fact that large numbers of Americans believe in ghosts or angels, that is part of some religious beliefs. Is the flip side is of this is that over half of Americans don’t believe in evolution. And these things go together. Because what they do is they place science on a par almost with folk beliefs.

And I think– if I may inveigh against myself, ourselves, I think the American media in particular has a lot to do with it. Because one of the things that really has gotten dumber about our culture the media constantly talks about truth as if it– if it were always equidistant from two points. In other words, sometimes the truth is one-sided.

I mentioned this in THE AGE OF AMERICAN UNREASON that after the 9/11 terrorist attacks there was a huge cover story in TIME Magazine in 2002 about the rapture and end of the world scenarios. There wasn’t a singular secular person quoted in it. They discussed the rapture scenario from the book of Revelation as though it was a perfectly reasonable thing for people to believe. On the one hand, these people don’t believe it. On the other it’s exactly like saying– you know, “Two plus– two plus two, so-and-so says, ‘two plus two equals five.’ But, of course, mathematicians say that it really equals four.” The mathematicians are right. The people who say that two plus two equals five are wrong. The media blurs that constantly.

BILL MOYERS: You call that a kind of dumb objectivity.

SUSAN JACOBY: Yes. Dumb objectivity. Exactly.

As an educator I find Jacoby’s work illuminating and depressing at the same time.  We have such a large hill to climb in the struggle to reclaim children’s minds from the media.

What is democracy about these days?  Looking to the North American model to the south of Canada, one begins to worry that idea of responsible, accountable government is a sadly antiquated notion.   Bill Moyers and his guests detail what is happening in Washington.  Revolving doors, “dark” money, influence peddling – a veritable laundry list of bad ethical practice is the norm, and the public good is but a memory.

Take the time, gain some insight and arm yourself with the knowledge of what is happening in what was once a great democratic nation.

Bill Moyers almost always has interesting guests and topics of discussion.  The topic of this video is why the American Congress has been so ineffectual as of late(?).  A long view, but interesting none the less.


Why do things happen the way they do?  Why do certain segments of society do well when everyone else is being hammered?  Some would say through being “smart” and “working hard”, but that is weapons grade bullshite of the highest order.  It is because, systematically, our system is being run for the benefit of one class of society and it does not matter who goes into the meat-grinder to keep this state of affairs going, as long as it is not them.

Please, tell me that society is not being run in the interests of the rich.  I double dog dare ya.. :)


I wonder who we’ll blame after the next super hurricane or the next drought?  I’m curious as to what will be the explanation for those that come after us be when we’re done here on Earth.  Let it be shown here in 2012 that we’re still talking about if climate change is a serious topic or not.

Short term planning and thinking will be the end of us.  Honest.


As far as I am concerned, the NRA needs to pack its’ bags and go away.  Bill Moyers says it better than I could right now.

I’m struck by the casual nature of the media when it comes to reporting on imperial wars.   Casualties are tallied, the right words are said, but then off we go to the next soundbite.  Time for reflection and contemplation is becoming (has become) a lost art.  Louder, Bigger, and Faster are what we’re all about now; and it is wrong, dead wrong.


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