Tuesday, February 10, 2009

We Are All Smart

On NPR radio this morning , guests were discussing if the new journalistic trend to grab readers' interest with lists of 'the best' songs, art, books, etc. has weakened real critical analysis of the arts.

I admit to reading the lists of books that celebrities have selected as their favorites in Oprah magazine each month. Oprah magazine is in itself a list.


All The Things Women My Age Worry About, Fear, or Regret and How To Erase Those Feelings. Good Luck With That.

Back to NPR radio and my drive down 23rd Street.

One of the Yahoo gurus , a guest on the program who apparently creates these lists, believes it is a way to relate to the masses, to engage the reader, the listener, the art observer and to move away from the opinions of the culturally/intellectually elite. (I am paraphrasing liberally.)

Example: I can apparently, according to my daughters, when I am unable to remember the titles of songs, look at celebrity songlists on ITunes to get ideas. My IPod can then be just like Justin Timberlake's. Fun for me- scary for him.

I see this as saying , I don't need to read, listen, observe to create my own opinions, I'll just borrow yours. And so I have, and I have enjoyed doing so.
This is my version of intellectual plagiarism.

The teacher in me, however, might call this Cliff Notes for the busy thinker.

I almost had a wreck when he explained his rationale.

There has been talk of late , criticism in fact, about the intellectually elite. In my English Language and Composition class , my AP students and I would have discussed the faulty reasoning, the fallacy in this type of argument/criticism.

At home, when I was growing up, we might have quite simply called this bad manners (as in not discussing someone's money, politics, religious beliefs, body size, age, or intelligence ).

I would have expected my AP students to identify the fallacy in criticizing someone's sense of his own intellect . The punchline created by this type of thinking is actually"I am not smart."

When we all are.
Today's world seems to promote the idea that there are no wrong answers, so we get a little irritated when people are supremely confident that their answer is right.

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