Sunday, March 09, 2008

Forrest Gump's America

In an article, and in a new book, Susan Jacoby laments that America is getting dumber, and the statistics she provides in support of that thesis are disturbing:

Reading has declined not only among the poorly educated, according to a report by the National Endowment for the Arts. In 1982, 82 percent of college graduates read novels or poems for pleasure; two decades later, only 67 percent did. And more than 40 percent of Americans under 44 did not read a single book – fiction or nonfiction – over the course of a year. The proportion of 17-year-olds who read nothing more than doubled between 1984 and 2004.... Harvard University's Kiku Adatto found that from 1968 to 1988, the average sound bite on the news for a presidential candidate – featuring the candidate's voice – dropped from 42.3 seconds to 9.8 seconds. By 2000, according to another Harvard study, it was down to just 7.8 seconds.

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