...Share This Article on: Digg! Reddit! Del.icio.us! Google! Live! Facebook! Slashdot! Technorati! StumbleUpon! Add this page to Mister Wong Newsvine!Furl!Print This Page  |  

Send to a Friend

Send to a friend
Expressen, Sweden

Are You Dumber than an American?

By Ann-Charlotte Marteus

Translated By Grace Olaison

7 November 2012

Edited by Natalie Clager


Sweden - Expressen - Original Article (Swedish)

Sometimes one is a little afraid of the United States. Not because it possesses nuclear weapons or anything along those lines, but because many Americans, beside the brilliant elite, seem so… well… foolish.

How can 46 percent of the population reject the theory of evolution? How can half the people want a rogue like Mitt Romney as president? How can Sarah Palin even exist? How could doubt about Obama's citizenship and religion become a perpetual point of mobilization, despite the total lack of common sense and evidence?

The deep distrust of reason, science and facts that many Americans wallow in today, is purely detrimental to society. You cannot raise a democratic discussion when preposterous lies are given the same credence as truths.

And never have politicians gotten away with so many lies as during the 2012 election campaign. The exaggerated distrust seems paradoxically to have made people so misguided that they have become gullible.

There are of course many unique reasons why the United States is what it is: historically grounded skepticism of political power holders, religion’s deep roots and a sprawling media landscape where requirements of objectivity have been cast overboard.

But how do marketing reasoning and advertising aesthetics play a role in Americans' galloping suspicion? It is an interesting question, because these are features which Sweden has increasingly embraced.

Americans are real veterans in terms of market thinking. And they have learned what counts: "Caveat emptor", i.e. "Let the buyer beware." In short, capitalism has given us wealth and diversity, but we should not be stupid enough to let ourselves be duped.

The question is: how are people affected in the long run by living chronically in "Watch out, do not be fooled" mode?

Is there increased distrust between people in general? Does one finally reflexively become suspicious of the researcher – and believe that she also tries to deceive us – just like the sales assistant who wants to sell banana wrinkle rejuvenation cream?

Sweden has lagged behind the U.S. in terms of commercialization, but in recent decades, we have in some respects surpassed the U.S. Our lives have been invaded not only by advertising posters, movies and banners, but even school-welfare has been subjected to market logic. In an increasing number of areas, we have become customers rather than citizens. The reasoning behind this systematic change is attractive: We have the power and may choose, instead of elected representatives choosing for us.

However, all systems have advantages and disadvantages, that’s just the way it is.

If the benefit of the customer role is choice and empowerment, then the disadvantages are that in very many situations in life, we must be on guard against people who want to use us to make money. And it’s all the same if the sellers have goods and services that may be of great benefit and enjoyment for me, as, "Caveat emptor!" I would be a fool if I believed in every promotional brochure or flashy mission statement that crossed my path. I need to wear my critical glasses.

Sweden has traditionally had much more social capital than the U.S. That is, people have had much more confidence in each other. And we have, to a relatively high degree, trusted our politicians, officials and scientists. On the whole, this trust has served us well. It is a capital that must not be squandered.






3 Responses to “Are You Dumber than an American?”

  1.  Vote: Add rating 0  Subtract rating 0   TailaMKinDK Says:

    I have lived in Scan­di­navia for nearly 3 years now. I think Scan­di­na­vian soci­ety has a lot of unan­swered ques­tions it should be ask­ing itself, espe­cially in light of Anders Behring Breivik’s massacre.

    I con­sider myself a fem­i­nist, and my polit­i­cal beliefs are gen­er­ally left-leaning. One would nat­u­rally assume that peo­ple like myself would be the kind of peo­ple who are recep­tive to crit­i­cisms of Amer­i­can soci­ety. But I can see that there are a lot of deep-rooted prob­lems here, and if they’re not addressed, then it’s going to destroy this soci­ety from the inside-out.

    These are some ran­dom obser­va­tions that I have noticed in my short time here:

    1) Scan­di­na­vian fem­i­nism is deeply flawed. It’s a very sad com­men­tary when I am actu­ally find­ing myself agree­ing with a mass-murderer on this issue. I think Scan­di­navia does a ter­rific job at ele­vat­ing girls at the expense of boys, and that would nat­u­rally lead to a deep-rooted resent­ment and anti-feminism. I have an 18-year-old step­son. His bio­log­i­cal mother is a bor­der­line psy­chotic, but the State did ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to save him from her — My hus­band already had lost his 2 daugh­ters, and he came close to los­ing his son. Now I spend­ing a lot of my time try­ing to con­vince him that not all women are like his mother, but then there are every­day instances when the soci­ety under­mines my own argument.

    2) Scan­di­navia has its own issues with com­mer­cial­ism. It ties into the first point: I don’t think that the amount of nudity and promis­cu­ity you see on tele­vi­sion is in itself a sign of a healthy soci­ety. Girls are sup­posed to be con­fi­dent and dom­i­nant in their soci­eties, and yet the media per­pet­u­ates the stereo­typ­i­cal (dumb blonde). Does Scan­di­navia want girls women to have a high value of them­selves, or don’t they?

    3) I never liked it when Scan­di­na­vians call them­selves a “tol­er­ant” soci­ety. To “tol­er­ate” lit­er­ally means “to put up with.” Every sin­gle coun­try in this part of the world tol­er­ates dif­fer­ent cul­tures, but none of them are accept­ing people’s dif­fer­ences. And I have learned from my time here that if you’re not a part of a group’s par­tic­u­lar lifestyle, then you’ll NEVER be accept as part of that group. The col­lec­tive men­tal­ity here is what’s dri­ving a lot of (smart) peo­ple away, but a lot of peo­ple are too self-absorbed to see it.

    4) Scan­di­navia should come to terms that it really isn’t a lead­ing place of inno­va­tion or new ideas. If a soci­ety is not accept­ing of dif­fer­ent peo­ple, then why would it see itself as a leader in a new way of thinking?

    So instead of crit­i­ciz­ing Amer­ica for it’s faults, I would try to look deeply into your own house first. Instead of telling lies to the world about how ideal a place this is to live, maybe that same amount of energy should be used to actu­ally solve the prob­lems that this soci­ety has.

  2.  Vote: Add rating 0  Subtract rating 0   WordsPerMinute Says:

    The very title “Are You Dumber than an Amer­i­can?” gives your hypocrisy away. The Swiss are judge­men­tal even though a great many Amer­i­cans are Swiss. “Cross­ing an ocean does not change one’s ori­gin. It only changes your des­ti­na­tion.” — Wade Meyer

    I have a 100% Chris­t­ian world­view and I sus­pect that a mis­sion­ary has not reached you yet with the good news of Jesus Christ. I think we tried once; oth­er­wise your flag would not have a cross in it. My sus­pi­cions are that there are enough Chris­tians in Switzer­land to make your coun­try an enemy to Satan. There is just no other rea­son to explain the smat­ter­ing of arti­cles in Europe­News show­ing that your coun­try is a tar­get of Islam and all of its pleasures–http://europenews.dk/en/taxonomy/term/554

    I am one of the 46% of Amer­i­cans that reject the the­ory of evo­lu­tion as the ori­gin of all life on our planet and I am just sorry as I can be that it is not a major­ity. But if by chance you should ever acci­den­tally pick up a Bible by mis­take and by chance it should open up to the book of Daniel chap­ter 12 and by pure acci­dent your eyes fall to verse 4 you will read some­thing very spe­cial. Michael the archangel could not say some­thing like “Hey Danny-boy one day the Inter­net is going to be invented and peo­ple will be able to know all kinds of things all over the world about one another. Oh and one other thing Danny-boy these white dudes in Amer­ica are going to invent the air­plane and it will lead to travel all around the world, rapidly and often.” No, Michael had to couch the words in terms that the Jew­ish gov­er­nor in Baby­lon could understand.

    Hav­ing said the above now go and find a Bible and open it. If the pages open to that exact book, chap­ter and verse then I hereby give you per­mis­sion to keep believ­ing in evo­lu­tion. If it does not then if I were you I would direct my browser to http://evangelismexplosion.org/resources/steps-to-life/
    and dis­cover how to really open your mind.

  3.  Vote: Add rating 0  Subtract rating 0   WordsPerMinute Says:

    Ah Switzer­land — Swe­den what’s the diff. Its all the same.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.