Why Are Americans So Uninformed About Politics?

Cory Doctorow's take on the devastating effects of

ignorance and possible explanations for its existence

Stereotypical American

A stereotypical American would be described as something like this – an overweight, ethnocentric, uninformed, couch potato that blindly absorbs information without asking questions and makes snap judgments not based in facts. Although this is a harsh and caricatured view of American citizens, it holds some valuable insights as to how others perceive the United States and possibly uncover some unfavorable truths about American culture. Although unflattering, if the stereotype exists there has to have been some reason for its creation.

Lazy American

Making generalizations about the knowledge of every American will never be accurate, but it is safe to say that many Americans are sorely lacking when it comes to being informed about the goings on of their government. This has devastating effects on democracy.

Is it their fault? Do Americans go out of their way to stay uninformed or does the culture they live in hinder their acquisition knowledge? With all the different forms of media that a large portion of Americans consume daily – blogs, twitter, texting, television, radio – it seems impossible that this important political information could be completely missed. And yet, with more types of media comes more choices as to what people do and do not want to see. It seems possible that someone could surf Facebook, blogs and twitter for hours on end without catching a glimpse of anything remotely political.


So who is responsible for the political education of America? Certainly no matter how much institutions try to inform the public they need the willingness of the people to succeed. But how hard are they really trying? Is the media really giving the people the information they need? Is the education system doing enough to inform their students? These are some of the issues that Doctorow addresses in his novel Little Brother.


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