A brown-throated three-toed sloth peeks through the leaves at the Aviarios Sloth Sancutary in Costa Rica.
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Patience also paid off on another trip to study and photograph pygmy three-toed sloths , a critically endangered species that lives on a remote island off Panama. The animals are smaller than your average housecat and famous for swimming between mangroves, a behavior Cliffe and Eszterhas sat in a boat for five days waiting to see.
Let's go home! Unfortunately, a tropical storm rolled in, and the pair had to ration water for two days and sleep curled up on the boat. The only good news? Read Caption. By Jason Bittel. Even their digestion is sluggish—Cliffe says it can take up to 30 days to process a single leaf. Photograph by Suzi Eszterhas. Continue Reading. Jul 22, Dave Sanders rated it did not like it Recommends it for: no one, If you are politically smart it feeds your bias. If you are too dumb, you won't read it. This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers.
To view it, click here. In a word, this book is terrible. I'm not saying this because the book says I'm stupid. I generally agree with the majority of the book - Americans haven't a clue about civics and they can be led by the nose by smart politicians and mass media. The entire book reads like a series of blog posts, of the caliber you'd find on one of the A list political blogs like TPM. A whole lot of hand wr In a word, this book is terrible. A whole lot of hand wringing and anecdotal remarks mixed in with some actual data. The first few chapters were interesting, nay, shocking in their statistics as they outlined the scope of America's stupidity.
But then it just kept going on, and on, and on, like one of those drunk guests at a dinner party who keeps interrupting everyone's conversations to talk about his ex-wife's new boyfriend in loud, obnoxious terms. After a while, you just roll your eyes and say "Get on with it!
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His decision for doing this is noted to be for the benefit of the common reader - in that common readers aren't going to understand footnotes, so lets just ignore them. This was a HUGE mistake, leading us "common" readers to question pretty much every statement and argument as its written. Adding footnotes at the end of a statement adds credence to it, and while I might not go look up every single one, its helpful in separating the "facts" from the "hearsay. Also, in hindsight, the whole point of this book is in a word, stupid.
This is definitely a "preaching to the choir" book, in that none of the poor stupid people so lambasted in the book are actually going to read it. In other words, it really does no good other than to further stereotype and generalize people - which is the last thing we need if we want to turn this around. Finally, this book is a bitch fest with very few actual solutions. This is because its very easy to criticize people, but much harder to actually work on the remedy. He wrote one chapter at the end that lays out some fairly decent, if not debatable, ideas, but none of them are coalesced into real courses of action and they are still interspersed with vitriol and contempt.
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Here is a metaphor I came up with, in the form of a conversation between a doctor and a patient: Patient: "My chest hurts real bad doc, I think I'm having a heart attack! You moron. You will never get better. And don't count on the rest of us to help you out either. Oh, and your dog hates you too. I'm having a real heart attack here! You idiot. View 2 comments. Aug 12, Trish rated it really liked it. Even though this book came out 10 years ago, it is still remarkably relevant to what we're facing today.
Though it is an unpopular thing to say and you'll likely never hear a politician running for office say it, the fact is that many Americans are woefully ignorant of their own government and how it works. They are easily led, easily manipulated, and not very likely to critically examine their ignorance or, in fact, to take steps to change it.
There are many reasons for this, among them a sever Even though this book came out 10 years ago, it is still remarkably relevant to what we're facing today. There are many reasons for this, among them a severe lack of civics education and politicians' and political campaigns' emphasis on heightened emotions and slogans rather than actual issues.
This quote from Alexander Hamilton sums it up: "We may appeal to every page of history we have hitherto turned over, for proofs of irrefragable, that the people, when they have been unchecked, have been as unjust, tyrannical, brutal, barbarous and cruel as any king or senate possessed of uncontrollable power.
The majority has eternally and without one exception usurped the rights of the minority. We see it in the woeful number of people eligible to vote who actually do. These people -- at least a large number of them -- likely have no idea what their ancestors went through in order to get the right to vote. Our citizens' knowledge of and interest in the running of their own country, of even its history or how it works, is disgraceful.
View 1 comment. Jun 09, Scot rated it liked it. There is a thriving cottage industry these days of books debating the stupidity of Americans: whether the assertion is true, if so what causes it, what the ramifications are, and what, if anything, can or should be done. This is also a hot topic, increasingly, in the popular press. How does Shenkman's book fit into this subgenre? Well, the subtitle is "Facing the Truth about the American Voter. It is written in a breezy, light style, so it is a quick read, and seems to be targeting the audience it describes as stupid--the ones responding to the polls in overwhelming numbers demonstrating ignorance of basic geography, civics, history, etc.
Why would those already not in agreement with his argument read this book? Well, the author is a professor with a track record of successfully marketed breezy books on the impact of myth in American politics and history, and I suspect he would like to see this book assigned in college classrooms. It doesn't tell me anything I didn't already know or suspect, but it does effectively use anecdotal evidence and documented data to establish for a general audience that there is a serious problem here, and that instead of blaming the media or opposition political parties, maybe we should stop romanticizing the driving purpose of "the American People" and hold ourselves, collectively, more responsible for challenging the way we allow the media in particular television , the consumer culture, and political campaigns marketed like new cola drinks to manipulate us so easily.
Perhaps we get what we deserve, but to the detriment of the entire planet His advice? We need to demand debates about important issues, turn off ALL the spin machines, and evaluate ideas. We need to admit how stupid we are, and that more advanced degrees aren't needed, but some heavy emphasis on basic civics classes and lots of remedial review! The power of polls should be curtailed, and all polling should require those polled to demonstrate their knowledge of a subject before they offer an opinion on it.
Although there are no footnotes which scare "the American People" he describes away from books, anyway , a brief bibliographic essay at the back could provide those motivated to probe deeper into some of the specific topic areas he raises. Although I doubt a majority of Americans will jump on this bandwagon, I think any extended conversations about our need for more civic awareness, striving a little bit harder for what Jefferson envisioned as an informed and critically thinking electorate, would be good for America.
Apr 30, Margie rated it really liked it Shelves: politics.
how to make america a lot less stupider how to make america less stupider book 1 Manual
I picked this up because the title resonated with my beliefs about American voters this is called confirmation bias. I was surprised to find that confirmation bias is not one of the ways in which Shenkman thinks we're stupid. He outlines five ways in which he thinks we're stupid and by we, I don't mean to imply that he's talking down to other people; he's talking about all of us.
First, there's gross ignorance. Second, negligence: the disinclination to seek reliable sources of information. T I picked this up because the title resonated with my beliefs about American voters this is called confirmation bias. Third, wooden-headedness: The inclination to believe what we want to believe, regardless of the facts. Then shortsightedness, and finally bone-headedness: susceptibility to meaningless phrases, stereotypes, irrational biases, and simplistic diagnoses and solutions that play on our hopes and fears. His argument rings true, and is also fairly depressing.
He notes, "Anybody can have an opinion about killer whales or a president's sex life. But it takes knowledge and reflection to reach a considered opinion about the budget deficit or national security. Result: we largely skip theses subjects, focusing as a nation on ephemera instead.
Doug Casey on Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez
Seems highly unlikely to me. I'll close with a quote from Adlai Stevenson, who initially resisted running television ads. I think they will be shocked by such contempt for the intelligence of the American people. This isn't soap opera, this isn't Ivory Soap versus Palmolive.
Jul 01, Oesa rated it really liked it. The timing of this book seemed most appropriate especially after last night's VP debate. Overall, Shenkman raises some excellent points. He is not afraid to call it as he sees it: Americans i. The People are stupid. We make "stupid" choices when it comes to who we have elected and it is--on the whole--our darn own fault.
Too often the blame has been placed on media, the politicians, and so on. Shenkman places it rather squarely on us. The main reason this has taken place is because we beli The timing of this book seemed most appropriate especially after last night's VP debate. The main reason this has taken place is because we believe in myths--myths about ourselves and myths about our politicians i. He also forcefully argues that our lack of education about civics and the workings of government and current events are to blame as well.
This is a rather obvious point, but it is worthwhile to raise nevertheless. He argues that we need to have difficult discussions and face challenging issues, and instead we have shied and even quickly run from them. Iraq is another. We like to pass the buck instead of being accountable. Overall, his arguments are well-crafted.
He does run into a few contradictions in my opinion however. On the one hand he criticizes the internet and TV as being in part responsible for "dumbing us down," but on the other hand he seems to throw these media sources a bone in last chapter, and says they may be useful in helping to educate Americans. The nuances in his argument are there, but they could be flushed out a bit more; instead, certain aspects of what he is saying seem a little wonky.
The main point of his last chapter is to stress how civics needs to be taught at the high school and college level. While this is an excellent point, his final chapter does not close as strongly as it could. With that said, this is a quick, interesting, and relatively worthwhile read--obviously very relevant for current events. Feb 07, Matt Lennert rated it really liked it Shelves: We're pretty stupid. In we were just really dumb. Now we're flat out stupido.
Dec 04, Lori rated it liked it. Not a great read, but interesting. I was on a political obsession at the time. We are a sadly ignorant country. The book did inspire me to pay more attention to what our political leaders are doing. We are responsible for ourselves and should be making intelligent choices when we head into the voting booth. I do keep up with politics somewhat, but now make sure I read a little more widely and keep up more by watching and reading a variety of sources, being more aware of the biases of the sources Not a great read, but interesting.
I do keep up with politics somewhat, but now make sure I read a little more widely and keep up more by watching and reading a variety of sources, being more aware of the biases of the sources. Oct 06, Carol rated it liked it. I get tired of books that rattle statistic after statistic about how poorly educated we are, even if we really are.
I was happy to read an author that rightly puts the blame on a lack of civics education, but would like to learn more about how to truly educate yourself in a post-fact world. Jul 24, Young Kim rated it it was amazing. All the members of our society no matter what our profession and expertise is are allowed to have our voices heard, and all these different voices hurt the nation as a whole with too many different directions. To keep our way of life with the people satisfied in it, the foreign policy must sail towards the same direction to keep the country as the head of the global order with all "Keep the people simple and distracted.
To keep our way of life with the people satisfied in it, the foreign policy must sail towards the same direction to keep the country as the head of the global order with all the necessary resources brought to our country, but people get to elect wrong person for the job due to domestic reasons without understanding, because international politics is not everyone's profession for living or at least we have enough leisure time to learn and think about it like the property owners of the time of our Founding Fathers. Everyone has a vote without understanding the importance of the clear foreign policy direction in order to keep the global order under control within the alliance system that makes our way of life possible.
The real face of our proud democracy: Although what the author talks about is true, no one's to be blamed because it's been the national policy to keep the people distracted and stupid some people choose another word "ignorant", but I'd pick "innocent" for the people , so that the freedom of our access to the vital information doesn't really work with us people searching only for fun shows like sports or screen.
Modern democracy thrives upon deception, since those who lie telling the people what we wanna hear end up winning the office, so who to blame? Certainly not the "innocent" people who are deliberately tamed to be entertained for the social stability if not giving us any alternative solution. Without any solution for us it is not right for anyone to blame and call us "stupid. Many readers might get offended emotionally, which is our nature, but some people take this book as a tool for self-improvement.
And if you really finish the reading to the last pages, you will realize that, despite the provocative title, the author's got no intention to insult or blame the people, but to inform us. Aug 28, Valerie rated it really liked it. This is one of those books that went onto the shelf but somehow got forgotten about, but I'm actually glad I read it nine years after its publishing date, because the book's premise most certainly foreshadowed the election of a shallow, uninformed, inexperienced, abrasive TV personality cult "hero".
I heartily agree with the author's contention that we must add strong civics curriculum back into schools and generally stop being so stupid! I do, though, find his tone to sometimes become subtly el This is one of those books that went onto the shelf but somehow got forgotten about, but I'm actually glad I read it nine years after its publishing date, because the book's premise most certainly foreshadowed the election of a shallow, uninformed, inexperienced, abrasive TV personality cult "hero".
I do, though, find his tone to sometimes become subtly elitist, such as in his assumption that all American students have the ability to go to college. His sometimes near-nostalgia for the old "party boss" system is baffling, too. However, he does offer a number of examples of our political history to demonstrate the backward slide in voter intelligence, enough to make any civic-minded person take pause and wonder where we as a nation may be headed.
Mar 11, Zach Koenig rated it liked it. After taking a bunch of political science classes during my college tenure, especially a few dealing with presidential politics, I was intrigued by the title of this book and the notion which has long been studied in the realm of political science that "The People" or American voters are flat-out just too stupid to elect a person as important as the President of the United States. However, not five pages into the book, I came to the realization that author Rick Shenkman was not at all intendi After taking a bunch of political science classes during my college tenure, especially a few dealing with presidential politics, I was intrigued by the title of this book and the notion which has long been studied in the realm of political science that "The People" or American voters are flat-out just too stupid to elect a person as important as the President of the United States.
However, not five pages into the book, I came to the realization that author Rick Shenkman was not at all intending to thoroughly research the issue using proven political science techniques. Instead, although he obviously doesn't come right out and say it, it is very clear that the thought process behind the book was more like "How could the American public be dumb enough to elect George W. Bush as President? Instead of what could have been a very interesting study on the topic of voter privileges and the abuse of them though ignorance , Shenkman instead just lays out a very basic case of how voters may or may not be up to the monumental tasks of electing what essentially amounts to the leader of the Free World.
He covers topics such as voter ignorance, irrationality, myths, and television, yet never delves into the issues enough to really be considered an authority on the subject. The peer-reviewed journal articles I read back in those college politics classes were, while more difficult to decipher at times, much more scientific and procedural than anything this book puts together.
Now, don't get me wrong Of course, everyone is stupid sometime or other. We have all fallen headlong for some product because it looks cool or because some celebrity we like but who has zero expertise tells us he has one, despite there being no reason whatsoever for buying the item and maybe even good reasons not to buy it. We often make choices on the basis of emotions like hope, fear, love, envy, pride and anger — instead of reason.
However, while other nations seem to be tackling the local and global problems we face head on, relying not so much on passion but on science and common sense, we seem as a nation to be acting stupidly. And in this regard we fail to live up to, and even betray, just those values that have informed our republic from its founding and to which we now so often merely pay lip service.
In many respects, America is, for better and for worse, heir to the intellectual revolution of seventeenth-century Europe. What characterized philosophy and science in the early modern period and represented a break from much of what went before is the concern to tailor theories to evidence, not to authority or tradition.
Galileo, Descartes, Spinoza, Locke, Newton and others came up with explanations of the cosmos, of the world around them and of human nature and society not by appealing to what earlier thinkers such as Plato and Aristotle had said. Nor were they guided primarily by religious dogma. Rather, they took their lead from reason and experience. Whether they proceeded according to the logic of deduction or through the critical collection and analysis of data, what the modern scientific method they developed consists in is the testing of theories according to what reason allows and what empirical evidence supports.
A rational person only believes what the evidence warrants him in believing; he does not merely accept things on faith; and when the evidence falsifies his beliefs, he abandons them. It is irrational — stupid — to hold onto beliefs when they are plainly contradicted by the evidence.