WASHINGTON (CAP) - The number of obtuse people in the United States will increase from 99 million in 2008 to 164 million by 2030, according to a new study by the Pew Research Center.
"Possibly more, depending on the relative acceleration of certain societal factors," said Dr. Francis Spitznagel of the Pew Center, citing the number of reality television shows on the air, the preponderance of comments sections on news websites, and whether a Tea Party candidate is elected president.
"It was not that long ago that it was relatively uncommon to come across an obtuse person," noted Spitznagel, particularly outside of certain high-obtuseness hotspots like hockey arenas, and the South. "These days it's not unusual for entire families, and in some cases entire social groups, to be obtuse. Often morbidly obtuse."
The study pointed to several possible causes of obtuseness in Americans, including a decline in education funding, and Rush Limbaugh. But far and away the primary factor is the rise of the Internet, said Spitznagel.
"The definition of obtuse is 'lacking quickness of perception or intellect,' and the Internet caters specifically to people with those qualities," said Spitznagel, noting the recent finding that more than 80 percent of the Internet is pictures of cats.
"Fifty or even 20 years ago it was much more common for people to expand their intellectual horizons, just to keep from getting bored," Spitznagel explained. "Nowadays those same people can just spend their time playing Farmville or uploading pictures of their kids to one of Google's several dozen social networking sites.
"Plus, if there's a topic you don't understand or that is nuanced enough to require multi-level thinking, you can just go into the comments section and call it retarded, along with the dozens of other obtuse people doing the same thing," noted Spitznagel.
According to the study, other common descriptions that obtuse people apply to complex topics in their Internet comments include lame, epic fail and f-ing stupid. "Especially that last one," said Spitznagel.
President Barack Obama released a statement expressing his concern about the findings, noting that they go a long way toward explaining recent actions by Congress. Obama announced that starting this fall, First Lady Michelle Obama will take time out from her schedule of humiliating one fat child each week to shine a spotlight on the obtuse.
"Michelle, like me, is concerned with the number of obtuse children who, through no fault of their own, are stupid idiots," said Obama.
The First Lady's new program will feature photographs of obtuse children in their natural habitats, such as in front of their Xboxes, by prominent obesity photographer Lucas Earls. "If some of those kids also happen to be obese, it's a real win-win for me," said Earls. "I have a feeling my chances are pretty good."
But it's obtuse adults who are at the crux of the problem, said Spitznagel, pointing to the study's conclusion that a greater intellectual curiosity and a need to parse the finer details of complex societal issues will be key to reversing what many see as a downward spiral in such important areas as the economy and the environment.
In response, more than 2,000 Facebook commenters referred to the study as f-ing stupid.
- CAP News Staff