everybody knows

I have a problem with some of those "everybody knows" type things. This is a topic I've thought about a lot through the years. Recently what brought it to mind was discussing with my girlfriend our favorite vocalists.

This transitioned into a discussion of over rated folk. I mentioned Billie Holiday, whom I view as a vastly over rated singer, who often tops lists of best singers. From what I've seen, she's often mentioned as a great singer by people that have never even listened to her.

Regardless of your opinion of Holiday, you've no doubt seen this situation elsewhere. Some people are considered the top of their field...and that then becomes engraved in stone. People a generation later will parrot that "greatest" rating when they barely know who that even is. For example, JFK is considered a great President yet the majority of the people in this country weren't even alive when he was assasinated.

I think many people make these judgements on the person's reputation, not on what they actually did. So Picasso becomes a great painter even to people who've never seen any of his work and Bach is a great composer. I'm not saying that these people aren't some of the best in their fields--I'm just saying that most people rate them as being great without direct experience of their work.

Here's comes a plot twist. The phrase "everybody knows" is a standby for conventional wisdom. By that standard most people here in the US think that democracy is the best form of government and that here in the USA that's what we have. Of course our government is actually a federal republic and not a democracy. Furthermore, the aspects of our govenrment that are most democratic are the ones most often ridiculed and even despised by the general population.

To me it seems that most people respond well to strong displays of authority like the President and not well to more divisive forms of govenrnment like Congress. That strikes me as preferring autocratic forms of government like monarchy. Too bad we had that pesky Revolutionary War to rid ourselves of just that institution. LOL As much as we in the US laud the founding fathers of our country, like Jefferson, their vision of government isn't really very popular. Pity.

Anyway, this is very topical these days due to the power grab that Bush, along with Cheney and the rest of the neocons, has made. The office of the President is now more powerful than at any other time in the history of our nation. This scares me in the short run due to the inadequate personalities of those in charge. But in the long run having that much power located in the Executive Branch can lead to serious problems. There was a reason that the framers of the Constitution formed three branches of government with checks and balances amongst them.

At this point in time I worry about our government being reclassified as Fascist eventually. Heil Bush?

Comments

Juggling Mother said…
Anyone who starts any serious conversation with "everybody knows" is either too lazy or too stupid to think for themselves.

not only is the US not a democracy, but the USSR wasn't communist either (it was State Capitalist if you follow maxist theory properly).

IMHO Democracy is far from the "best" way of running a country. Things will get done faster & better with a dictator {see my utopian world:-)}. The problem is that dictators are rarely benevelant, loving, conscientious, intelligent people! democracies are harder for one person to corrupt.

It is one of my (many) big worries about the war in Iraq. what right have we to waltz into another country & tell them our way of doing things is morally correct? History may well show democracy going the same way as the many other political systems that are now considered repugnant to us! (slavery, devine rule, Serfdom, theocracies.....)

Sorry for the political rant, but I feel it is important we remember that the US in 2006 is not the peak of human civilisation!
poopie said…
Yep....me too.
Teresa said…
Well, considering that baby boomers -- most of whom were born before the assassination -- are the largest segment of the population and judging how many over-60's people I encounter every day, I'd beg to differ that most of the population was born after the assination of JFK and I wouldn't say that the majority of the under 25 year olds would name him as greatest anyway. So, that seemed like a silly thing to say, Dave.

On the other hand, I understand what you are saying and we do see it all the time. There will always be a segment of the population -- old, young and in between -- who will parrot what they hear without really thinking about it. It's easier to do than education yourself on some subjects.

I wouldn't have picked Billie Holliday as the greatest singer, but she might be so in her genre as I don't have a lot of experience with the music of her time. Do I care enough to research it... nah. So, I'll go along with the "everyone knows"....

So, you are picking fights again, Dave? Getting fiesty.... oooooo.....
utenzi said…
I do like Democracy for exactly that reason, Mrs A. Things are debated to death and few things happen quickly. In a pure democracy this allows for open discussion and consensus. Of course that's impractical on a national scale but I like the attempt at inclusion, even if it's awkward.
kenju said…
*Everybody knows* is akin to *They say*.......

I also worry about too much power concentrated in one area!
Michael Manning said…
Utenzi: You make a good point that people do not dig deeper into many issues. I'm concerned that not one newspaper in this country has the guts to mention Islamofascism in their columns, or that Germany's magazine BILD has a photo of Adolph Hitler next to the president of Iran who has vowed to wipe out Israel, and has asked "Is This the Next Hitler?" Or that an alcoholic nut case in North Korea is letting people starve to death and decay on the streets. Having traveled and lived in Europe, I'm glad we can choose our views and be passionate as you are about what we feel must be done to better the planet. I commend you for that. Wouldn't it be nice if people of all Faiths and Ethnicity could find a common ground and achieve peace?
utenzi said…
Michael, amen to that. I remember being dismayed 5 years ago when Bush decided to vigorously pursue Iraq when most of the terrorist were from Saudi Arabia--and the money that backed them. I was shocked that he viewed Iraq as the "Mother of all Terrorists" when the examples you give, Iran and North Korea, as well as Syria were the real problems.

Judy, I knew we wouldn't agree on this post and you're very sweet to be so polite about it. Thanks!

Teresa, nuh-uh.

"The median age in America reached its highest point ever at 35.3 years, up from 32.9 years in 1990, according to recently released data from Census 2000. By "median age," the Census Bureau means that half of the American people are now older and half younger than 35.3 years."

Since I was 2 when JFK was assasinated and I'm 44 then anyone under 42 wasn't born yet when JFK died. Half the people in the country are under 35 years old. You do the math. So there!
Teresa said…
I stand correected... and admire that you didn't use the "everybody knows..." approach to that one. I'm still not sure that you are right, but you did back it up. Now, how about some fact on the everyone knows that he's the greatest president???

You know what all these facts do to me....
kenju said…
Michele snet me back, Utenzi. I think she wanted me to say "Heil...NO!
Mamacita said…
Now now, everybody KNOWS that won't happen. That's what they say, anyway. It's common knowledge.

Michele sent me.
deputyswife said…
Most people do not, I feel, make decisions based on their own preferences. They look to the media and their neighbors to "go with the flow". I also feel that most people are embarrassed of their own ignorance and pretend to be up to speed on issues. And basically quote any schmoo that has an opinion that sounds good.

Not that I am a worldly person. Far from that by any means. But I know when to stop and ask about something.

As far as Bush, I am hoping to close my eyes and wake up when his presidency is over. Heil Bush? Hell No!

btw, here via Michele's tonight!
amanda said…
LOL..."Hiel, No!!" sums up how I feel exactly.

Michele sent me...
margalit said…
Our government is actually not even a federal government, it's a confederal government, never mind not a democracy. I think today we've seen that democracy doesn't always work the way we as Americans assume it is, vis a vis the Hamas win in "Palestine". How scary is THAT?

I totally agree with you that Bush and his cronys are going for a complete power grab, and they don't seem to understand the balance of power our constitution supposidly safeguards. The only thing we can hope is that congress grows some cajones and starts indicting en-masse and impeaches that moronic Texan and his best buddies Rove and Cheney. When about 8 people contain all the power in the country and some of them weren't even elected, we've got a real problem, folks.

Michele sent me
jeni said…
living out here in los angeles (la la land...lol!) people rarely take the initiative to find out what they really want to know. we've become to adept in today's society to follow someone else's lead...thinking that, "they must have done their homework. look how loudly they're talking!"

unfortunately, i don't think this is going to change anytime in the near future. people are too lackadaisical when it comes to their information.

came via michele's tonight! :)
jac said…
Hello, Michele sent me. *snort* I'm one of those people who entirely despises the phrases "everyone knows" or "they say....". Such phrases, are, indeed, a cop out, providing an excuse for not fully investigating a matter and developing a truly informed opinion. Then again, some can be quite apathetic about some topics. I know I am.
kenju said…
Yes, Utenzi, I did have a typo:

*snet* That's another example of that adult-onset dyslexia I have.
Michelle said…
OOoo i love this topic Dave. I reckon Elvis was over rated, and everybody knows he's now selling used cars in Tennesee!
dena said…
Can I just say that I love Billie Holiday, and not because someone told me to?

Visiting from michele's today.
magz said…
wasnt it Mark Twain who said something like "Democracy, is rather like watching a dog walk on his hind legs. The marvel is not that it's not done perfectly, but that it's done a'tall"

smooches from yer apolitcal pal, (whom 'everybody knows' is gonna be a bestseller someday, hehehe)
Pearl said…
Sweet discussion. Just what's been on my mind too.
utenzi, I'm surprised at this post. If I had said all that on my blog, you probably would have disagreed with me.

You made some good points, but the majority of people aren't interested in good points. The like simple words like "freedom" and "liberty" and phrases like the "war on terror" ...

Keep up the good work.
Maria said…
Very interesting and I enjoyed it immensely. I always like posts where the writer has thoughts similar to mine. I promise to come back and read more.
Lish said…
Have you heard Greenday's song "Holiday"? It has some references to Bush and Hitler.

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