What does "dumbing down" mean to you? How could it be measured
Assuming you could think of a definition for dumbing down, what are ideas about how to measure it? Particularly, I'd be interested to hear ideas on how the media has dumbed down - especially in the area of TV documentaries and news reports.
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I would look at motive, first, and determine who would benefit from dumbing down the American electorate. Once you establish that, it would be possible to determine their method of choice - whatever it is they control. Schools would be a logical source for determining testing standards, whether they have decreased in complexity or not. American students' performance on worldwide tests would also be indicative.
just measure anything NEW in education, and correlate.
(#4 cont'd) In that digital dumbing lies the seed for new thought. Dumbing down often implies an infusion of emotionalism, sensationalism. But away from the mass media circus are quiet little pockets (like this one or your facebook page) where there's space for thought and entertainment to co-exist. People who want to remain numb will always have an outlet & people who want to create will have theirs, too. Dumbing down is not new. Neither is thinking. It just looks different in each generation.
Instead of presenting ideas and allowing people to draw their own conclusions, more and more "journalists" are telling people what to think. Part of it is due to the nature of visual media itself (see Ellul's Humiliation of the Word or anything by McLuhan). It's hard to communicate abstract truth without words, so most don't even make the attempt. It's easier to show people your own perspective than to get them to listen to all sides first.
To me "dumbing down" means lowering the reading level. If a technical paper is written at a 10th grade reading level, lower it to a 6th grade level in order to dumb it down. You can measure the readability in Microsoft Word by going to Tools> Options> Spelling Tab> Spelling and AutoCorrection; click Proofing. Under When correcting grammar in Outlook, select the "Check grammar with spelling" checkbox. Select the "Show readability statistics" check box.
Look at a newspaper article and ask an "average" group of people - including children - to say how many words they don't know the meaning of
Look at a documentary from some years ago and compare it to a recent documentary. Work out the average number of syllables in the words used.