22 thoughts on “Unartistic America

  1. Another item I’ve been wondering over this whole Unscientific America discussion: are Americans also bad at history and geography because of you, PZ, and Dawkins?

    1. Yup! Somebody told me that after he’d read my New Republic review of Giberson and Miller, he immediately forgot what the capitals of Bolivia were.

      1. Of course, because god is the source of all real knowledge, and no atheist does anything but obliviate real knowledge. We know that the capitals (plural, really?) of Bolivia are real knowledge because such knowledge is not contrary to the Rigveda…or Bible or something.


        And I wish this had been a parody of common religious thinking. Maybe it is, but just barely.

        Glen Davidson

      2. [i]We know that the capitals (plural, really?) of Bolivia…[/i]

        Yes, plural. La Paz is the administrative capital, but the judicial capital is Sucre. If you were unaware of this, then it just goes to show how the New Atheists are ruining geographic literacy.

  2. Some artists say things that can be understood as offensive, too. Indeed, the more offensive the art, the more art is understood to exist solely to attack religion, moms, and Michael Jackson news coverage.

    Indeed, the fact that offensive art never succeeds, and only erodes support for art departments, movies, illustrations, and all representations, abstractions, and graphic arts, was what inspired M&K’s earlier book on science. Only nice art that never stepped on anyone’s toes–certainly nothing opposed to religion–has been popular.

    Art and science are interesting and popular to the degree that artists and scientists take PR courses and carefully explain how their art and science don’t pose a threat to anything, revolutionize thinking, or come to interesting conclusions.

    I hope this is a lesson to all scientists who think that science is interesting because it challenges our minds and poses questions to prior beliefs.

    Glen Davidson

  3. TBH, I don’t like most modern art but love just about anything from the Rennaissance or Classical periods.

    I blame modern artists for this deficiency. Or I might just be a redneck.

    I doubt anyone being more civil will help, though.

  4. By criticizing crap that could be painted by a 5-year old, according to the authors, the neorealists turn off hipster doofuses who like crap that could be painted by a 5-year-old.

    Ha! Philistines.

    It took me four years to paint like Raphael, but a lifetime to paint like a child. —Pablo Picasso

  5. Funny, but they have the parallel wrong. It should be that established artists turn off the average American who “knows what he likes” and is not fond of having to know anything about it before passing judgment. Requiring them to learn something just turns them off to art entirely.

    If you know anything about artists’statements, that part about artists learning to better explain themselves to the public has already started.

    Although I wouldn’t exactly compliment most Americans knowledge of contemporary art (I mean stuff being done today, not forty years ago) it’s still a lot better than their knowledge of science.

  6. I do not think it is completely the fault of the artists. Much of the blame lies with the artists’ agents and how they communicate and represent the artists and the art.

    But there are “Militant New Artists” who shoulder much of the fault for Inartistic America within their own genre – those being the Rap, Hip Hop and Country Music artists as well as that subversive Guy Lombardo.

  7. That was funny, thanks for the link. Is the writer of that story a relative of Carl Sagan?

    I was getting ready to bounce around Warhol and Mondrian with my scathing response, then the rug was pulled from under me.

    I like Monet and the impressionists.

    1. It’s not such a brilliantly conducted poll but I don’t have too much problems with its findings. Is it really such a surprise that the public don’t have much knowledge of the names of scientists?
      Science is a fragmented set of disciplines and there are very few ‘superstars’ that are famous even amongst scientists as a whole (I suspect if you asked biologists to name a famous living physicist then Stephen Hawking would also be the top name for them).

  8. Well, my comment on the Mooney thread — http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/intersection/2009/08/04/how-many-of-us-know-a-living-scientist/ — is “awaiting moderation”:

    “Apparently this low level of public knowledge will improve sharply once we get some civil and religiously tolerant people practising science instead of the uncivil, intolerant lot we have now.

    Personally I put my faith in Xenu/Jesus/Allah and have little interest in scientists — or the science that they teach — that don’t respect my faith or who pretend there is any conflict between Scientology/Christianity/Islam and science.”

    Perhaps it’s too sarcastic?

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