The Dumbest Generation by Mark Bauerlein
How the Digital Age Stupefies Young Americans and Jeopardizes Our Future(Or, Don't Trust Anyone Under 30)

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Synopsis

This shocking, surprisingly entertaining romp into the intellectual nether regions of today's underthirty set reveals the disturbing and, ultimately, incontrovertible truth: cyberculture is turning us into a society of know-nothings.

The Dumbest Generation is a dire report on the intellectual life of young adults and a timely warning of its impact on American democracy and culture.
 
For decades, concern has been brewing about the dumbed-down popular culture available to young people and the impact it has on their futures. But at the dawn of the digital age, many thought they saw an answer: the internet, email, blogs, and interactive and hyper-realistic video games promised to yield a generation of sharper, more aware, and intellectually sophisticated children. The terms “information superhighway” and “knowledge economy” entered the lexicon, and we assumed that teens would use their knowledge and understanding of technology to set themselves apart as the vanguards of this new digital era.
 
That was the promise. But the enlightenment didn’t happen. The technology that was supposed to make young adults more aware, diversify their tastes, and improve their verbal skills has had the opposite effect. According to recent reports from the National Endowment for the Arts, most young people in the United States do not read literature, visit museums, or vote. They cannot explain basic scientific methods, recount basic American history, name their local political representatives, or locate Iraq or Israel on a map. The Dumbest Generation: How the Digital Age Stupefies Young Americans and Jeopardizes Our Future is a startling examination of the intellectual life of young adults and a timely warning of its impact on American culture and democracy.
 
Over the last few decades, how we view adolescence itself has changed, growing from a pitstop on the road to adulthood to its own space in society, wholly separate from adult life. This change in adolescent culture has gone hand in hand with an insidious infantilization of our culture at large; as adolescents continue to disengage from the adult world, they have built their own, acquiring more spending money, steering classrooms and culture towards their own needs and interests, and now using the technology once promoted as the greatest hope for their futures to indulge in diversions, from MySpace to multiplayer video games, 24/7.
 
Can a nation continue to enjoy political and economic predominance if its citizens refuse to grow up? Drawing upon exhaustive research, personal anecdotes, and historical and social analysis, The Dumbest Generation presents a portrait of the young American mind at this critical juncture, and lays out a compelling vision of how we might address its deficiencies. The Dumbest Generation pulls no punches as it reveals the true cost of the digital age—and our last chance to fix it.
 

About Mark Bauerlein

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Mark Bauerlein is a professor of English at Emory University and has worked as a director of Research and Analysis at the National Endowment for the Arts, where he oversaw studies about culture and American life.
 
Published May 15, 2008 by Tarcher. 284 pages
Genres: Political & Social Sciences, Computers & Technology, Education & Reference, Science Fiction & Fantasy, Young Adult, Science & Math, Health, Fitness & Dieting. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for The Dumbest Generation

BC Books

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Despite what the powers-that-be said at the time, this age of American uncertainty created a new surge of art and cultural veracity that not only brought about new labels (Postmodernism, Deconstructivism, et cetera) but a new wave of tolerance and accessibility that continues today.

May 27 2008 | Read Full Review of The Dumbest Generation: How t...

BC Books

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It is an inevitability that with every generational change, the older generation will complain about the new generation and reminisce on the past - the "good ol' days," if you will.

May 27 2008 | Read Full Review of The Dumbest Generation: How t...

Open Letters Monthly

Bauerlein wants students engaged in the pure pursuit of knowledge, and Shenkman wants pure citizens.

Jan 14 2010 | Read Full Review of The Dumbest Generation: How t...

The New American

The deterioration of any capacity for critical reading and thinking will echo throughout the broader culture: “The habits young people form after school, on weekends, and over the summer are pleasing — fast scanning, page hopping, sloppy writing, associative thinking, no unfamiliar content — and ...

Jul 23 2009 | Read Full Review of The Dumbest Generation: How t...

AARP

But as Bauerlein's own charts reveal, the reading rate sagged in every age group: from 60 percent to 47 percent for 35- to 44-year-olds, and from 47 to 45 percent for the 65-to-74 set.

Aug 06 2008 | Read Full Review of The Dumbest Generation: How t...

The Well-Read Man

In terms of natural resources, cultural diversity, and basic liberty, the United States has experienced a short yet rich life unparalleled by any other country throughout history.

Apr 30 2014 | Read Full Review of The Dumbest Generation: How t...

The Well-Read Man

Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray is the second book in the Well-Read Man Project to take up the “fountain of youth” theme, the first being Frankenstein.

Nov 15 2011 | Read Full Review of The Dumbest Generation: How t...

Creative Loafing

The most insightful moments in The Dumbest Generation come when the author, Emory University English professor Mark Bauerlein, serves up one study after another that supports his thesis that digital culture is ruining young Americans.

Aug 06 2008 | Read Full Review of The Dumbest Generation: How t...

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