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July 25, 2018


So interesting Beth. Glad to say I got them all correct but pretty frightening to see the overall statistics. Such a sad state our country is in - but worse is looking into the future.
Would be very easy to disconnect for our own mental health. Thanks as always for your clarity and is nice to read your unbiased opinions. Hope you and J. are well!

Fun exercise. I sailed through but did have to pause on one to think it over. While it's right to point to our educational system as one of the culprits here, I'm more concerned about those who aren't MERELY ignorant but are WILLFULLY ignorant. Many who fall into the latter category are close to power or even wield it.

Thank you, Beth.

I missed one, but I protest. (Kathy Hughes, is it the same one?) #10: ISIS lost a significant portion of its territory in Iraq and Syria in 2017. "Significant" in this sentence does not refer to statistical significance and so I called it as opinion. It's a classic political weasel word. Try the word in a non-political statement like, "My wife lost a significant amount at poker last night" and you will see why I protest my score :).

I agree that critical thinking skills have eroded. There's also the other side of the coin, "facts" that are lies presented as facts. The USG's lies about the Vietnam body counts brought me to Canada in 1970.

If a similar test was given to random members of the public almost anywhere in the world I wonder if results would differ a great deal? Ignorance, indifference, lack of attention, distraction, media overload, susceptibility to brainwashing by propaganda and fake news - all these are pretty much the universal condition at present, even if a certain proportion of Americans seem to typify it.

You're right not to be surprised. Overhear a discussion about a fictional TV series and, as often as not, it will rapidly become apparent that those speaking regard the "characters" as living people. Their motives will be argued, their past existence analysed, their personalities adumbrated. This is not to say that academics may not use such methods but the approach in those instances is quite different - detached and impartial. There's a strange naivete about the former group, as if their familiarity with the stories had turned them into participants in the drama. Among other things it leads to suggestions that actors such as Bill Cosby (pre la chute, of course) should be elected president.

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Who was Cassandra?

  • In the Iliad, she is described as the loveliest of the daughters of Priam (King of Troy), and gifted with prophecy. The god Apollo loved her, but she spurned him. As a punishment, he decreed that no one would ever believe her. So when she told her fellow Trojans that the Greeks were hiding inside the wooden horse...well, you know what happened.