Cultural Amnesia: America's Future and the Crisis of Memory
Sixty percent of adult Americans don't know the name of the president who ordered the dropping of the first atomic bomb, 42% of college seniors can't place the Civil War in the right half-century, and 24% think Columbus discovered America in the 1500s. Meanwhile, more American teenagers can name the Three Stooges than the three branches of the federal government.
Applying the metaphor of Alzheimer's disease to our national state of mind, Bertman offers a chilling prognosis for our country's future unless radical steps for recovery are taken. He offers psychological insights into the nature of memory with perspectives on the meaning and future of democracy. With compelling evidence, the book demonstrates that cultural amnesia, like Alzheimer's disease, is an insidiously progressive and debilitating illness that is eating away at America's soul. Rather than superficially blaming memory loss on a failed educational system, Bertman looks beyond the classroom to the larger social forces that conspire to alienate Americans from their past: a materialistic creed that celebrates transience and disposability, and an electronic faith that worships the present to the exclusion of all other dimensions of time.
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If people never learned these things in the first place , how can we claim they “
forgot ” them ? Naturally , we can't . But my larger purpose is to examine not
individuals but rather cultures — specifically , our culture . The life of an individual
28 According to Stewart Brand , creator of the Whole Earth Catalog , “ There has
never been a time of such drastic and irretrievable information loss .... We've
turned into a total amnesiac . We do short - term memory , period . ” 29 Ironically ,
it is ...
EPILOGUE RETURN TO ITHACA Ulysses , the Greek hero , never went to
college , and he made out just fine . In fact , he never went to elementary school ,
or middle school , or high school . He never took a course in geography , or
history , or ...
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Prologue The Land of the Lotuseaters
Memory and Personal Identity
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