If Ignorance Is Bliss …

Elmer is at the Bark 'n Barley Bar saying, "If ignorance is bliss, why are so many people unhappy?" Mimosa asks, "What does ignorance is bliss mean?" 

There’s been a lot of talk about education problems and ignorance in America these days. 

Personally, I don’t see what the big deal is.  Recently I did some extensive research on this, which is to say I Googled for a few minutes, and pretty much wrote up the first thing I found without checking the facts (the new journalistic standard these days) because I had a deadline to meet. 

I uncovered some of Jay Leno’s Jaywalking interviews by searching for “Ignorance in America,” which for some strange reason returned an amazingly large number of results.  The Jaywalking interviews are where he approaches people on the street and just asks them basic questions. 

As you can see, most of the people did pretty well.  Take Ron’s comments on world history, for example … 

Jay: So Ron, do you know who started World War II?
Ron: Hitler
Jay: What was Hitler’s first name?
Ron: Hitler
Jay: So his full name was Hitler Hitler?
Ron: No, just Hitler … he only had one name … like Cher 

Okay Ron, fair point.  You’re right, Cher only has one name.  Some people might have answered Adolf, but you got us on a technicality here … you clever guy.  Score that one as correct! 

Or how about our religious heritage … here are some insights from Rob when he says … 

Jay: See if you can finish this sentence.
Rob: Sure.
Jay: The meek shall inherit the _______?
Rob:  The wealth?  Sounds like a socialist thing!
Jay: hmmmm …  a socialist thing … so do you know who said it?
Rob: No idea.
Jay: Take a guess …
Rob: Barack Obama?
Jay: No, close … Jesus.
Rob: Really??? 

Rob seemed rather incredulous at the answer … and then went on to explain that he was Jewish. Hmmmm … wasn’t Jesus Jewish?  Well, okay, I mean, it is unrealistic to expect someone to know the name of everyone of their own nationality.  So this was probably an unfair question.  Let’s just throw it out. 

How about knowledge of all of the hard won rights in America?  Like women’s rights, hint, Equal Rights Amendment, for example.  Here are some insightful answers from Jill during Women’s History Month. 

Jay: Have you heard of the ERA?  What’s the ERA?
Jill: It’s the Environmental Rights Agency.
Jay: What is that one?
Jill: For animal rights and women and animals … all together.
Jay: So you feel that women and animals should have the same rights?
Jill: YES I DO. 

Okay Jill – hadn’t quite heard that spin on it before, but you’ll probably get full support from PETA – so we have to score that one as correct. 

Of course, it’s easy to know the history of one’s country, so let’s press the point a bit — onward to famous historical people of foreign countries.  Here’s what John had to say … 

Jay: Why is Joan of Arc famous?
John: I think she was a witch … or a lesbian.
Jay: Could she have been a witch and a lesbian?
John: She could have! 

There you are – technically correct again.  I don’t know that Joan actually was a lesbian, but John is right on the money here – technically it sounds possible to be a lesbian and a witch – there’s probably a web site for them (yup, sure is – just checked this out).  So we have to score this one correct as well. 

Do you see a pattern here?  All these people getting things right on technicalities.  I mean, they are clearly knowledgeable AND able to apply critical reasoning to the questions.  Like I said earlier, I don’t see what the big deal is about education in America.  So at the risk of journalistic overkill, I’ll just do a couple more, but I think I’ve proved my point. 

Concerning Civil Rights, when asked who Rosa Park was, Sally answered, “She wanted to get off the bus, so she sat down.”  See. Correct – she did sit down and a bus was involved.  Hadn’t heard about her wanting to get off the bus, but again, technically correct.  Everyone who gets on a bus eventually wants to get off – usually at the place they were going to. 

And the last question to Mable, “What’s Women’s Suffrage?”  To which she replied, “Being with men?”  Hmmm … a little tough on the guys, Mable, but, well, since fifty per cent of the population probably agrees with this at one time or another, we have to score that correct as well. 

Finally, I was thinking to check out general math skills, but for some reason I was a little scared to go there, probably because math is one of my favorite subjects and I was afraid I might be too hard on the interviewees.  So I took a pass on the math thing. 

So what should we conclude from all of this.  Well, I’m reminded of the old Chinese curse “May you live in interesting times.”  Perhaps we should change that to “May you live in blissful times.” 

Because we sure do, don’t we … seems to be a lot of blissful people in America.  Which reminds me of something I’ve said for years.  And that is, when you get right down to it, there are only three kinds of people in this world …  those that can count and those that can’t. 

I rest my case. 

Have a nice day – J. Daniel 

P.S. You can see the two Jaywalking interviews here on YouTube.   And click here for the second one.
Or paste these links into your browser – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0DspmfZw5d0.   
And http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MrA7qFYU84A&NR=1.

Also many thanks to Jay for doing the hard boots on the ground research here in “blissful America.”

P.P.S. Please note that I changed the names of the interviewees (to protect the blissful) and paraphrased their responses in the interest of brevity.

2 Responses to “If Ignorance Is Bliss …”

  1. Eduardo says:

    There are 3 kinds of people 1): The ones who can read ,the ones who can’t read and the ones who can deal with internet. 2): The ones who has travelled, the ones who has never travelled and the ones who stay at home.
    a) To understand women men need,first, to find out how women understand men.
    b)To be successful you have to succeed ,otherwise you won’t be successful
    c)To think green you have to think blue combined with yellow

  2. J. Daniel says:

    Hey nice post, Eduardo – keep them cards and letters coming :-)

Leave a Reply