Dumbing Down

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Description of the pattern

The term Dumbing Down started in 1933 when motion picture screenplay writers changed the way they wrote in order to gain appeal with those of who had little education or intelligence. However, Dumbing Down will usually involve simplifying critical thought to a point where it begins to undermine intellectual standards of learning in a society. This then trivializes cultural, artistic, and academic standards.

How it works


In the late 20th century, the increased number of students attending university, because of lowered scholastic aptitude standards, required the establishment and maintenance of intellectual distinctions; thus, in 2003, the UK Minister for Universities, Margaret Hodge, criticized Mickey Mouse degrees as a negative consequence of universities dumbing down curricula to meet “the needs of the market”, degrees conferred for studies in a field of endeavour "where the content is perhaps not as [intellectually] rigorous as one would expect, and where the degree, itself, may not have huge relevance in the labour market", thus, a university degree of slight intellectual substance, which the student earned by "simply stacking up numbers on Mickey Mouse courses, is not acceptable"

"'Irresponsible' Hodge under fire", BBC News, 14 January 2003. URL accessed on 24 June 2006.

"50% higher education target doomed, says thinktank", EducationGuardian.co.uk, 14 July 2005. URL accessed on 24 June 2006.

The science fiction film Idiocracy (2005) portrays the U.S. as a greatly dumbed-down society five hundred years hence; which low cultural condition was achieved with dysgenics, over-reproduction by people of low intelligence being greater than the rate of reproduction of people of high intelligence, i.e. the educated. Conceptually, the world postulated in Idiocracy derives from the science fiction short story The Marching Morons (1951), by Cyril M. Kornbluth. Moreover, the novel Brave New World (1931), by Aldous Huxley, discussed the ways that society was effectively dumbed-down in order to maintain political stability and social order.


Linked patterns

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