The New Know-Nothings

I had some remarkable students at Yale . . . But as for the students of the colorful dumbnessearly 21st century, one of the surprising things about them was what they didn’t know. They simply didn’t know much about what had happened in the world before their own existence. History, a lot of literature, was just not open to them.

Q: How do they understand America?

I think they took it absolutely for granted in some ways, and let’s say that their attitudes were extremely simplistic. They saw it as behaving dreadfully or behaving with transcendent virtue. And they didn’t seem to be able to figure out that there were these many problems, that there were these fine gradations. I was surprised by their inability to reason closely as to motive.

Robert Stone

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2 Responses to “The New Know-Nothings”


  1. 1 Alexa November 17, 2013 at 1:01 pm

    do you think this might be at least in part due to the fact that kids these days don’t read books? some do, but they’re “nerds” who are abused when caught redhanded with a (gasp) book in hand.

    the 24 hour news cycle, the internet, particularly Twitter, Vine, i-Phones and Facebook (not to dismiss completely StormKoff for the long-winded and badly aged, though nearly all are worth dismissing) has contributed to this era of know-nots.

    addicted to the refresh button, they’re more lost than any dope fiend could want to be.

    • 2 bluenred November 17, 2013 at 1:26 pm

      There have been a couple recent Science Man studies that addressed the brain stultification properties of the intertubes and associated technologies. I can’t remember whether I’ve referenced them here. I can’t remember because I spend too much time on the intertubes.: /


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