Monday, January 31, 2005

Study: Kids are Stupid, Adults are Hypocritcally Stupid

There's been much to do about the study released today that a majority of high school kids want to burn books and beat up op-ed columnist. Well, that wasn't exactly what the article said, but you wouldn't know it by the half-assed way the study has been reported.

The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation released the following statistics:



Do you agree or disagree that . . . (percent who agree)

. . . People should be allowed to express unpopular opinions.

Students: 83%
Adults: 95%

. . . Newspapers should be allowed to publish freely without government approval of stories.

Students: 51%
Adults: 70%

. . . Musicians should be allowed to sing songs with lyrics other may find offensive

Students: 70%
Adults: 59%

. . . High School students should be allowed to report controversial issues in their student newspapers without approval of school authorities.

Students: 58%
Adults: 43%


What does this study tell us?

(1) About 25% of students can't see the logical relationship between controversial opinions being censors, and their controversial opinions being censored.

(2) Once students grow up, this cognitive dissonance infects about 50% of adults.

(3) Students are less likely to effectively disguish between censorship of ideological opinion and censorship of artistic expression.

(4) Adults can tell the difference better, but don't care. They want to censor both music and opinion they don't like

As an aside, the study shows that 75% of kids think that flag burning can be banned, and that nearly half of students think internet indecency can be censored by the government. One can say that this shows kids are ill-informed. I think it shows that they are more wiley or cynical--students believe that the government can find ways around supposedly protective rights, e.g. fining someone who beats a flag burner only $25.

The study may also suggust that teenagers, generally being under more authority, have a harder time imagining that offensive behavior is, or should be, allowed. I would like to see a follow-up into these kids as they go into their college and bachelor years, where more behavior is allowed.

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