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Why 'Dumbth' Was Relegated to Section J

January 25, 1990

I can't decide why the article "Dumbth" is relegated to the J section of the Sunday Times (Jan. 21).

With "Dumbth," Steve Allen warns of a "deterioration of basic intelligence in America," exposing a "spreading incompetence, illiteracy and gullibility across the land." Mr. Allen says, "It's a combination of ignorance and stupidity, plus some unidentifiable ingredients."

I'll take a shot at one "unidentifiable" ingredient--Alien-Nation. I may be incompetent or illiterate, but not so "gullible" that I don't understand the real meaning of Mr. Allen holding court with "Nobel laureates, physics professors, telecommunications managers," and an otherwise "sold-out audience of scientists, teachers and technicians."

What happened to the real people? Were there no scalpers selling tickets to the show, or discounted tickets being somehow available to an incompetent public? It's easy to denounce the lack of education to an elite group with "enough concentrated brain power to turn out an encyclopedia in two hours flat," but that's like coaching the extremely rich on how to make a fortune. If "Steverino" wants to attack the pitfalls of education, why not take his humor to the middle schools where there is still time enough to make an impression?

Perhaps the lower students don't buy enough of Mr. Allen's books. Perhaps contact with non-celebrities would harm the credibility of such an intellectual star. Perhaps that's why the story was planted in the J section of the Sunday Times.

You don't have to read well to see who you don't deserve to hang around with, and you don't need a doctorate in physics to understand a smoke screen of caring coming from an ivory tower. And it takes no brains at all to realize the pain of alienation--the anguish of watching the party from the distant barn.

Exposing "gullibility" by alienating the have-nots and autographing books which make you wealthy, is "Dumbth."


La Puente

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