The Instigator
qopel
Pro (for)
Losing
13 Points
The Contender
Double_R
Con (against)
Winning
34 Points

America is being "dumbed down"

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 9 votes the winner is...
Double_R
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 3/1/2013 Category: Education
Updated: 3 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 7,599 times Debate No: 30865
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (100)
Votes (9)

 

qopel

Pro

No Wikipedia
No adding new arguments in later rounds
No profiles that claim they are 100 years old.
Nobody under 18.
No word games.
No playing with semantics.
No vague definition of words. If you use a word that can have several meanings, make it clear what you actually mean.

Texting has encouraged young people to stop caring about spelling and grammar. Ur, U, B4, Y and other "abbreviations" are even showing up in student school papers.
http://www.suntimes.com...

Religion is hindering the advancement of science. Almost half of Americans don't accept evolution as a fact.
http://www.huffingtonpost.com...

More people watch the Super Bowl than the State of the Union Address.
On Jan. 25, 2011, only 42.8 million viewers watched Obama give his third State of the Union address. By contrast, more than 111 million Americans watched the National Football League's Super Bowl, between the Green Bay Packers and the Pittsburgh Steelers.
http://uspolitics.about.com...
Double_R

Con

Thanks to Pro for the Challenge.


Pro lays out 3 arguments to show that Americais being dumbed down, however none of them lead to his conclusion.


Texting


Pro claims that this has lead to young people not caring about spelling and grammar. However, as Pros source points out: “It’s like you have two languages in your head”. Students today have to learn proper English and texting lingo in order to balance their professional and social lives. This has actually made it more difficult for these students, which his source credits for these instances of texting lingo ending up in school newspapers. It is a problem we have to deal with, and will only result in more complication.


Religion and Science


Pros argument that religion is hindering the advancement of science does not support America being dumbed down. The basis of Pros claim is that evolution = smart, while religion = dumb. So if we accept his basis then the question is; is this getting worse? As Pros source shows, the percentage of people who believe that humans have evolved with no involvement from God has gone up from 9% to 15% in the past 20 years, while those who believe in involvement from God in evolution has gone down from 82% to 78% during the same time period.


State of the Union vs. Super Bowl


I would go back and compare statistics but in this case that would be meaningless. State of the Union speech ratings are largely determined by the political climate and the popularity of the President, as such there is no distinct pattern to gain anything valuable from. The reason the Super Bowl has so many more viewers is because it is entertaining, which has always gained more attention then politics. This does not lead Pros conclusion.


Education


One very important point that Pro failed to consider is the level of education Americans are now attaining. Since 1940 the percentage of Americans in their 20’s who have a high school or higher education has gone from about 30% to now over 80%, and those with a bachelor’s degree or higher have gone from about 5% to now over 20%(1). The reason for this is quite simple; it is more difficult to earn a living in the US today then it was years ago. This trend will continue because of the advancement of technology. When I was in school we had to learn MS word, now kids have to learn MS word, Power Point, and Excel. A doll just won’t do it for a 5 year old anymore, now they need cell phones and all kind of child games (which are normally created with some educational value). And as non-skilled labor jobs disappear they are being replaced with high tech jobs requiring a higher education. If America was dumbing down our society would be moving backward, not forward.


(1) http://upload.wikimedia.org...

Debate Round No. 1
qopel

Pro

This might become an interesting debate.

I can ramble on, but then I'll be accused of making assertions without evidence.

So let me try to use sources.

Texting

"Students today have to learn proper English and texting lingo" That's nonsense.
Nobody has to learn texting lingo in order to balance their professional and social lives.
You can communicate socially with real English, but you can't get a professional job with texting lingo.
"It"s like you have two languages in your head". Again, that's nonsense. If texting language is
causing confusion, then it shouldn't be used or learned. It's not an official form of communication.
Show me "ur" or "B4" in the dictionary.

What amazes me is that previous generations were taught two languages; block letters and cursive.
Those are official, yet cursive is no longer being taught in schools!

http://www.wvec.com...

Our own Constitution is written in cursive, and yet, our schools are not teaching students how to read it!

Religion and Science

"The basis of Pros claim is that evolution = smart, while religion = dumb."

Evolution is based on scientific proof while religion is based on faith.
Faith is just an excuse to believe something without evidence. If you can train your mind
to believe things without evidence, you no longer care what you believe as being true.
That breeds ignorance.

Even though my opponent has shown proof that the percentage of people accepting evolution has gone up,
the fact that the population has also gone up in the past 20 years suggests that the amount of
people who accept evolution, is not on the rise.

Compared to other countries, America is behind on evolution acception.
http://news.nationalgeographic.com...

State of the Union vs. Super Bowl

My opponent claims "The reason the Super Bowl has so many more viewers is because it is entertaining"
That proves my point. Americans don't want to be educated, they want to be entertained.

EDUCATION

Although an agreed upon rule at the beginning of the debate was "No adding new arguments in later rounds"
my opponent decided to add "education" into the debate arguments.

Since he wanted to open up that can of worms, I will give sources of how uneducated Americans really are.

http://youtu.be... Bill Maher gives real statistics about how dumbed down Americans are.
50% of Americans can't even figure out that the old testament is older than the New Testament!

In this Youtube clip, you will see people so dumb, they can't answer where the Berlin wall was built!
http://youtu.be...

According to this New York Times Article, Americans are behind globally in Math and Science.
http://www.nytimes.com...

This Huffington Post article also states America is lacking in world education rankings.
http://www.huffingtonpost.com...

Here is a poll that shows 37% of Americans can't even find their own country on a map!
http://www.huffingtonpost.com...

This poll shows that 51% of Americans cannot even name one of their U.S. Senate representatives.
http://www.clermontteaparty.org...

Here's one that says 57 percent of Americans can't name any current U.S. Supreme Court justices.
http://www.prnewswire.com...

This youtube video shows the ignorance of random Mississippi residences.
http://youtu.be...

Even though more people are graduating High School and College, the quality of their education
has gone done. When so many Americans are lacking basic knowledge as shown with the above polls,
it's a wake-up call that what they are not learning in school, is the real problem.
Double_R

Con

The resolution states that Americais being dumbed down. It does not state that America is not as smart as we should be, or that Americans are dumber then other nations. I have no desire for semantics but Pro made his resolution clear with his opening argument. Pro must show an overall negative change in our “dumbness” in order to win this debate. However when scrutinized, his arguments show the exact opposite.


Texting


Pro claims that my two languages argument is nonsense because students don’t have to learn them in order to balance their social lives. Texting lingo has developed naturally as a way to communicate more efficiently given the amount of effort it takes to type on a cell phone. Students spend much time on their cell phones and anyone who doesn’t understand the lingo will not only have no idea what anyone else is talking about but will also be ridiculed for it. It is a sign that they have no social life.


I think Pro fails to acknowledge this because he has forgotten the pressures of young people to fit in with their friends. It doesn’t matter if that seems childish to an adult, it is a natural and necessary stage of their maturity development. It is very healthy for young people to be at least moderately successful in this area if they wish to grow up feeling full and confident in them selves. Those that don’t are usually the ones we see on the news years later, and not for good reasons. However, this point matters little. Pros premise is that texting lingo is a sign of dumbness. As I have explained, students don't use this lingo because they are lazy, they use it to be more efficient when texting. It creates yet another thing they must learn.


Pro also claims that schools not teaching cursive writing is a sign of dumbing down. Pro should watch his source. The focus of the debate as to whether students should be taught cursive is about the balance between a focus on writing vs. focus on technology. In other words, students today have much more to worry about then they did years ago and this is turning educational focus into a difficult dilemma for teachers. This is not dumbing down.


Religion and Science


Pros science based beliefs vs. faith based beliefs argument is irrelevant. I have already accepted his premise and showed how the trends are not in his arguments favor. However, Pro makes the bizarre claim that the population increasing somehow negates an overall increase in those who believe in evolution, despite a higher percentage of that same population believing just that. If 50% of 6 people believe in evolution then we have 3 evolution believers. If 60% of 10 people believe in evolution we have 6 evolution believers. A higher percentage plus a higher population = a greater amount of people. If evolution = smart, and the number of people (and percentage) who believe in evolution increases, then America is getting smarter.


State of the Union vs. Super Bowl


Pro says I have proven his point. I haven’t proven anything. A desire to be entertained does not equal a lack of desire to be educated. Pro must show the latter, which he didn’t even bother to attempt. Many doctors, lawyers, politicians, etc are football fans.


Education


Pro dodges every single argument I made in round one (which BTW is not a “later round”) and instead focuses on completely irrelevant cherry picked examples of how dumb some people are. There are, have always been, and will always be dumb people out there. If YouTube was around in the 1950’s you would find just as many videos of people who don’t know where America is on a map. Pros responsibility is to show how this represents a change in our level of ignorance as a nation. He has yet to accomplish this.


And once again, the debate is not about how we rank against the rest of the world. Other countries improving their education system does not mean that Americans are becoming dumber, it means other countries are becoming smarter. If it does mean the former, then it is Pros responsibility to show how. His attempts have not lead to this conclusion.


I extend my technology argument as the reason why Americans are attaining a higher education. Today’s world is much more complex then it used to be and as a result a simple education which would have earned a decent living years ago simply won’t do it anymore. That is the opposite of dumbing down.


Not one of Pros arguments affirms the resolution. In fact they all thoroughly negate it.

Debate Round No. 2
qopel

Pro

I agree, that the debate is about "America is being "dumbed down""

Texting

Typing with text lingo, may have "naturally developed" but that doesn't make it smart.
My opponent points out that it's designed for cell phone communication. I have pointed out that it
now appears on student term papers, which brings down grades. My opponent admits it takes less effort to type that way. I would add that it takes a caveman less effort to grunt and point, rather than put together a modern sentence.
That's what makes texting "dumbed down".

My opponent also pointed out that people who do not go along and conform to this dumbed down practice
of text lingo will be ridiculed for it. This pressure, encourages people to abandon their
educated way of communicating in favor of a dumbed down version of communication.

That's the perfect example of how America is being dumbed down.

My opponent wants to claim that this is "a natural and necessary stage of their maturity development".
Where is the proof for that? Texting is really a dumbed down lazy form of communication
that is being forced on young people with ridicule.

That's like saying bullying is a "natural and necessary stage of their maturity development".

A child that is forced to dumb down their communication skills through ridicule is far from
"natural and necessary".

There is a trend in American education to concentrate on making a student feel "full and confident",
rather than smart and educated. That's another form of dumbing down. My opponent has pointed out that
self esteem is the perceived road to success by avoiding being featured on the news for bad reasons.

Being ridiculed does not help a person become "full and confident".
It makes a person compliant to the bullies. It does not encourage free thinking or create self esteem.
It does the exact opposite by causing a person to become insecure and willing to abandon a form
of communication that will help them in their future professional and academic careers, in favor of a dumbed
down version of communication.

As far as cursive writing is concerned, there really is no need to abandon traditional forms of education in favor
of technology based education. You must understand the concept of numbers before you can
use a pocket calculator. Educators should be building on top of traditional education, not eliminating it.

Technology itself is dumbing down America.
People now use calculators instead of doing math in their heads. People now don't bother
to learn how to spell, since computers auto-correct what they type. There are cars that will
actually parallel park themselves, so that people won't bother to learn how to do so.
GPS devices are rendering people helpless when confronted with a traditional map.
Not many Americans know how to drive a stick shift, due to the popularity of automatic transmissions.
That's how America is being dumbed down. It's not very easy to understand what an automatic transmission does
if you never have driven a stick. Most don't even want to understand it. Their sense of
curiosity has dwindled. Americans don't care how things work anymore, as long as they just work.
Instead of being able to fix something, they just throw it away and buy a new one.

Religion and Science

I think my opponent needs a more dumbed down example of what I mean.

Let's say 1 person believe in evolution and 2 people believes in creationism.
That's twice as many people that believe in creationism.
Now, as the population grows, we add an equal amount of people to both sides.

If you add 1 to both sides, you have 2 people believing in evolution and 3 who believe in creationism.
Now it's no longer twice as many. Population does count.

State of the Union vs. Super Bowl
My opponent claims "A desire to be entertained does not equal a lack of desire to be educated"

Once again, let's do some math.

Let's say you have 10 hours a day to either be entertained or educated.
The more hours you spend being entertained, the less hours you spend being educated.

If you spend 1 hour being entertained you have 9 hours for education.
If you desire to spend 9 hours being entertained, you only desire 1 hour of education.
Yes, many doctors, lawyers, politicians, etc are football fans. However, I dare say that most
successful doctors, lawyers and politicians have spent more time educating themselves due to a desire to be educated
compared to the average garbage truck driver who spends more time being entertained due to a desire to be entertained. It's a given fact that most higher paid jobs require higher education.

Education
My opponent said "Other countries improving their education system does not mean that Americans are becoming dumber, it means other countries are becoming smarter"

Once again, let's do some math.

If 50% of the smart population of the world comes from America and 50% come from other countries, then America
is smarter than the rest of the world.

If the other countries are improving their education systems and now 75% of the smart people on the planet come from other countries, that leaves America with only 25% of the smart people world population.

So, yes. Other countries improving their education system does, in fact, mean that Americans are becoming dumber,
while other countries are becoming smarter.

My opponent also said "Today"s world is much more complex then it used to be and as a result a simple education which would have earned a decent living years ago simply won"t do it anymore."

Which person would you rather have working at NASA...a person who can take out a pen and paper
and use a slide rule to figure out a complex math problem, or somebody who only knows how to punch
some numbers into a computer to get the answer?

The person who knows the basics and understands WHY the answer is correct is better (smarter) than somebody who only wants the correct answer.

A mechanic that knows how to fix a transmission is better (smarter) than one who can only replace one.

Without "simple education", complex technology is useless. A monkey can press buttons on a computer.
Only a human can build a computer and understand how it works.

Americans are being dumbed down to how to operate things without the basic understandings of how they work.
Double_R

Con

Pros arguments in this last round were much more on target with the resolution, however he sill disregards many of the points I have raised and also asserts a new concept to his arguments that we are dumber because we have greater technology. I’ll start by addressing the former, then refute the latter.

Texting

I don’t disagree with Pros argument that texting lingo itself is a dumbed down version of how we communicate. What I have been arguing is the fact that students have to learn proper English and texting lingo in today’s America. Pros points to this lingo showing up in school papers to make his case, but this is not surprising. If you try to learn two new languages you will certainly make more mistakes then if you tried to learn just one, but learning two is still more difficult.

Pro also completely misunderstands my natural development argument. It was a response to Pros point that students don’t have to learn texting lingo. I simply showed that there is more of a need to learn this then he acknowledges. It really wasn’t a necessary point. Neither is Pros “full and confident” response, which really made no sense anyway and in fact only seemed to affirm my point about the pressure on young people to learn the lingo. Where Pro goes wrong is to use this argument to claim that it forces young people to abandon their “educated” form of communication. They are learning both, that is not dumber then learning just one.

Pros also asserts that educators should simply build on top of traditional education and not eliminate it. Pro misses the entire point of the cursive writing debate. If it were that simple then educators would not have to concern themselves with what to teach, they would simply teach everything. The problem is that there is too much that needs to be taught so they must choose between two things they want. When we as human beings have this type of dilemma the result is for us to push harder. We may not accomplish everything we hope, but we will certainly accomplish more then we would have if the challenge were not as great. Educators and students today have a greater challenge then they did years ago. That is not dumbing down.

Technology

Pro provides many examples of technology diminishing the need for people to learn things for themselves. While his example sounds convincing, that is only because he ignores the effects these devices have on society and our way of life. Pros argument is one that has been made for nearly a century now, despite being proven wrong time and time again. Back when machines first started being used in factories people cried that the workforce would one day be replaced by machines. They didn’t understand what they would possibly do for a living now that their work was being outsourced to mass production. However, what we learned was that this actually created a new demand for people to build, fix, and improve these machines. And once we had machines doing our mindless work, we now had a large segment of society available to pursue other fields which has helped advance our society further improving our way of life.

The concept of these side effects apply to every one of Pros examples. Calculators has made us less efficient at simple math, but has freed us up to learn much more complicated math which is why we developed scientific calculators and now MS Excel. Spell check is great but people still have to learn how to spell in order to type, and now they also have to learn how to use MS word which allows them to put together a 50 page report instead of 10. The list goes on. As technology takes on the simple tasks for us we are now freed up to pursue the more complicated ones. Instead of practicing how to divide 5,601,345 by 31.3, we have moved on to practicing cosigns and tangents. Instead of spending our time hand writing reports we spend more of our time researching them and amassing more information. That is why we now have less and less factory workers and more engineers, and why technology continuously advances.

Religion and Science

I think Pro could use a calculator himself.

If 1 person believes in Evolution and 2 believe in creationism, then 33% believe in evolution and 66% believe in creationism. If we add 1 person to each side, then we would now have 2 people (40%) who believe in evolution and 3 people (60%) who believe in creationism. This does not favor Pros argument. When determining what the general consensus is, the number of the total population does not count. That is why we developed percentages.

State of the Union vs. the Super Bowl

Saying that more people watch football does not mean that more people are abandoning education, they could simply be abandoning other less educated forms of entertainment. Pro has made no attempt to show that this is not the case. If more people were abandoning their education then their would not be a growing percentage of the population graduating from high school and earning college degrees as I have shown. Pros argument here is not only irrelevant, but already proven wrong in round one.

Education

Pro now claims that if America goes from having 50% of the smart people in the world to 25% then we are getting dumber. He seems to think of smart people as athletes who get traded from one team to another. It does not work that way. There is not some magical limit to how much intelligence can exist in the world. If one person gets smarter that does not mean that someone else gets dumber. They can both get smarter. Pro fails to recognize that the term “smart” is a relative term. When we say a person is smart we are speaking in relation to others. You may be smart amongst your dumb friends, but amongst a group of leading scientists you may be considered dumb as a door knob. America stood out in the world because other nations were really dumb. Now they are getting smarter so we stand out less even if we have gotten smarter ourselves, which we have.


Pro asks whether we would rather have scientists who can figure out complex math on a pen and paper, or a computer. My answer is the same as NASA’s: Both. That means today’s scientists have to learn more, not less. And that makes sense since today we are accomplishing more, not less.

Conclusion

Pros case in this last round is essentially that people are learning less because we have technology to do everything for us. He ignores the fact that as a result we now have to learn the technology. His mindset is no different then decades ago when we all thought the workforce would be replaced with machines. That mindset has been proven wrong, and so too has his resolution. Being a part of American society today is much more complicated then it was many years ago. That has forced us to be overall smarter, not dumber.

Debate Round No. 3
100 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by bubbatheclown 2 years ago
bubbatheclown
o cors maricuh not beng dum down! whut mak yu thin hat?
Posted by truther1111 3 years ago
truther1111
The voting on this debate is proof america is dumbed down lol
Posted by allenbond 3 years ago
allenbond
its not a fact,its only kids that dont pay attention
Posted by Double_R 3 years ago
Double_R
@Qopel

"It's a fact. What's there to debate?"

It's only considered a fact to the small minded.
Posted by qopel 3 years ago
qopel
You're welcome
Posted by Kevin626 3 years ago
Kevin626
With that particular birth defect you still have parts of your brain yet most of it is gone. But there is still a brain, albeit less of one. That in its self shows that you have not read up on the defect. Also most people born with this defect die at birth. The penguin in question is a bird but the name that we give it is penguin. By A's & B's I meant in the grade section, but let us not talk semantics. But back to my first post, Thank you for disproving yourself. If it does not make you dumb to deny evolution, then that would mean that religion is not "dumbing down" Americans. Thank you.
Posted by qopel 3 years ago
qopel
Wrong again, Kevin.
1. Some children are actually born with a birth defect without brains.
2. You might call it a penguin. I might call it a bird.
3. I bet there are other words on your report card that have the letters "A" and "B" in them.
Posted by Kevin626 3 years ago
Kevin626
Also there are some things that can be proven 100%. Example: 1.) People have a brain. 100% proven, not one person has been found not to have a brain. 2.) my profile picture is a penguin. 100% proven, it is sitting right there and is a penguin. 3.) My report card has four A's and one B. If you were able to see my report card that would be 100% proven. there are things that can be proven 100%.
Posted by Kevin626 3 years ago
Kevin626
Thank you for disproving yourself. If it does not make you dumb to deny evolution, then that would mean that religion is not "dumbing down" Americans.
Posted by qopel 3 years ago
qopel
Kevin626: Nothing can be proved 100%. You don't need faith to accept the evidence for evolution, so it's not a belief. It won't make you dumb to deny evolution, just IGNORANT.
9 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 9 records.
Vote Placed by Smithereens 3 years ago
Smithereens
qopelDouble_RTied
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Reasons for voting decision: Con did a far better job refuting Pros arguments than Pro did supporting his BoP. Pro simply brought up major points of contention and gave opinions on each one, for example, evolution, which he assumed would support the affirmation of the resolution. Since Con did not allow Pros slips to pass, this debate goes to him.
Vote Placed by wolfman4711 3 years ago
wolfman4711
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Reasons for voting decision: Countering cloud
Vote Placed by Cloud 3 years ago
Cloud
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Reasons for voting decision: I felt Con had a lack of engagement with the real issue of the debate
Vote Placed by KingDebater 3 years ago
KingDebater
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Reasons for voting decision: Sources to Pro, obviously. Arguments to con as he countered all of Pro's arguments and conduct to Con because of Pro's claims that religion is dumbing down america.
Vote Placed by Grantmac18 3 years ago
Grantmac18
qopelDouble_RTied
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Reasons for voting decision: One of the worst debates I've read; however, qopel himself proved to be the best evidence towards the claim that Americans are being "dumbed down". Surprisingly, "dumbed down" was never thoroughly defined. Horrible arguments from Pro...
Vote Placed by Citrakayah 3 years ago
Citrakayah
qopelDouble_RTied
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Total points awarded:06 
Reasons for voting decision: Conduct- Pro introduced new arguments in later rounds after saying you couldn't do that. Arguments- Pro doesn't show how American is /getting/ dumber. He just shows that it is less intelligent than it ought to be; Con points this out and thus Con wins arguments. Sources- Pro end up citing a piece of satire. That loses him the points.
Vote Placed by Daktoria 3 years ago
Daktoria
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Reasons for voting decision: Con comes off as a bit of a consumerist elitist, and doesn't really address Pro's points. The idea of texting being a second language is insulting (Con never explains how texting contains comparable linguistic elements to other languages). Also, Con fails to understand how being dumbed down does not necessarily mean becoming absolutely stupider. For example, a large vector is reduced when encountered by a small vector. Con seems to have interpreted "dumbed down" as needing a net negative value. The numbers given on religion influencing evolutionary belief are a perfect example of this. Religious beliefs can inhibit further education even if education is taking place. Lastly, Con ignores how capital goods aren't consumer goods when referring to technology. There is a difference between investment and consumption when it comes to information.
Vote Placed by F-16_Fighting_Falcon 3 years ago
F-16_Fighting_Falcon
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Reasons for voting decision: Many of Pro's arguments tried to show that Americans are dumb as opposed to showing that the level of intelligence is decreasing with time. The argument about texting making it into academic papers was a good one but on every other argument, Con clearly had the advantage. He was able to show that technology isn't dumbing people down as the people now have to learn the technology. The stats about evolution: those who believe in involvement from god has gone down so this works in Con's favor. Con was also able to show the flaws with the argument from entertainment about how people may have moved on from a less entertaining activity to a more entertaining one regardless of their educational value. Overall, a clear Con win. Good, short debate. I enjoyed reading it.
Vote Placed by likespeace 3 years ago
likespeace
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Used the most reliable sources:-Vote Checkmark-2 points
Total points awarded:05 
Reasons for voting decision: Pro's arguments were often off-topic and sometimes bizarre. When Pro claimed, "Almost half of Americans don't accept evolution", Con semi-conceded "Evolution = Smart" but this was not evidence America was getting dumber since more Americans believe in evolution now than ever before. Pro inexplicably began to argue evolution was the smarter belief, and then made the.. brain fart?.. that the "amount" of evolutionists had gone down since there are more people than ever?! Not conceding this point, unlike his opponent's concession of "Evolution = Smart", made Pro seem less reasonable and credible. Con argued that learning texting in addition to English meant students these days learned more, not less. Dropping cursive was not about learning less, but about learning different things, as Pro's own source pointed out. Pro might have shown that by old standards that value cursive above programming, kids today are dumber. He did not show why that nowadays-ignored standard is better.