Look, I know that being able to spell does not make an individual smarter or dumber. But let’s look at the bigger picture. Let’s talk about the mystery abilities of ANALYSIS and SYNTHESIS. Perhaps you have heard of them, as presented by your middle-school English teacher under the monickers of COMPARE and CONTRAST.
Basically, ANALYSIS is the mental consideration of a situation, utilizing all the sources of information at your disposal. When you ANALYZE something, you look at it from as many points of view from as many sources as you can. Even sources you might not like so much, because if you DON’T, your analysis will be skewed. Is skewed analysis a bad thing? Not really, unless you would like to offer an informed opinion about something as opposed to a line of patter that sounds like redneck-cracker word salad, or, in the opposite case, tree-hugging PETA word salad.
When you SYNTHESIZE the information you have collected through analysis, you are assembling all the disparate parts of your analysis, and creating a valid opinion based on all the information available.
Note: For the purposes of USEFUL analysis and synthesis, you must overcome your natural confirmation bias (that is, the tendency to mentally accept only information that agrees or supports whatever you already believe). This is why I frequent such sites as “the Heritage Foundation” and “Newsmax”, despite their (in my opinion) fundamental cringeworthiness.
What does this have to do with misspelled Tea Party signs? I’d say, quite a bit. Now, let’s say I was a Tea Partier about to attend my local big-ass demonstration, so I thought I would paint me up a few signs. Clearly, I have some ability to read, or I couldn’t paint the signs. And surely, if I can read, I probably learned in school, and there is no shortage of dictionaries to be found in most schools. I could analyze my abilities – “shit, Ah cain’t spell ‘n never could” – and take remedial action to synthesize this knowledge by finding myself a frickin’ dictionary, because my analysis has also turned up the fact that when signs are spelled wrong, the lefty communist Obama-lovers have a serious field day with the hilarious results. In short, crappy spelling makes the Tea Party people look like idiots, and maybe for the health of the brand, I might want to avoid that perception.
Sound easy? Only if you are a far-Left Kenyan-loving educated liberal from the Northwest or the Northeast, where divorce rates are lower, religious friction much reduced, and nobody believes that the moon landing was faked or the Newtown massacre was a hoax. Also, where hard-working Blue State citizens bust their butts to donate tax dollars to those welching Southern states who suck up far more money via government handouts that they contribute tax-wise. We crazy, lovable Blue State bastards, why do we keep giving like this?
But back to analysis-synthesis. There’s a saying by John Stuart Mill, often incorrectly quoted: “Conservatives are not necessarily stupid, but most stupid people are conservatives.” His statement as he intended it was “I never meant to say that the Conservatives are generally stupid. I meant to say that stupid people are generally Conservative. I believe that is so obviously and universally admitted a principle that I hardly think any (one) will deny it.”
Thank you, John, for clearing up any misconceptions we might have had on exactly what you meant.
By virtue of one’s ability to honestly analyze and synthesize, one is either stupider or smarter, at least in the realm of consolidating facts and then judging the outcome. I have met some very poorly educated people who in many cases had learning disabilities that were in no way a fault of their own making, yet in some cases had retained some ability to “compare and contrast”. I have also known some extremely well-educated individuals who managed to parley their abilities into good-paying professions, such as medicine and law – yet display only the slightest competence in synthesis and analysis.
Generally, competent compare-and-contrasters were liberal in outlook. For example, this well-asked question from an unemployed bricklayer: “If tax breaks create jobs, and the job creators have had tax breaks for the last 40 years, where are all the jobs?” I’d say that’s a pretty lucid synthesis right there.
On the other hand those who simply accept the trope “Tax breaks create jobs”, are invariably rock-ribbed conservatives. They never question anything: it is good enough to simply accept, especially if accepting is going to keep you and your money in a safe and cozy place. Screw those bricklayers! (Actually, they never say “screw those bricklayers,” because they never, ever, even think about them.) Interestingly, most of these rich guys kind of give up the gift of an open mind once they got enough money and stuff that they want to protect through conserving the status quo. Like Jerry Rubin, well-known Chicago Seven upstart of the 60’s, who made a ton of money in “multi-level marketing” (think Amway) and then got run over by a car in 1994. Some might say that justice was served.
So, there you have it. Let’s do it mathematically:
(Authentic analysis → Synthesis = Factual conclusions) / (MSNBC – everything on MSNBC that isn’t supported by independent corroboration) + (Reading widely from many sources + directed research on particular topics) = INFORMED INTELLIGENCE
(Inauthentic analysis → Skewed synthesis) / (Massive doses of FOX NEWS + Rush Limbaugh + a bazillion other ranting conservative talkers) + (all the stuff cluttering the mind that one thinks might be true but isn’t and never bothers to check out) = UNINFORMED STUPIDITY
And THAT’S why all you misbegotten Tea Baggers have GOT to start spelling your signs correctly. Just a tip from someone you would probably hate, in the interests of national pride. Please. Make an effort.