The Public as Dummies

D. Charles Whitney, Ellen Wartella

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A number of recent public polls and commentaries on the media have suggested that the American public is woefully uninformed across a broad range of issues and topics, to the extent, as one such commentator argues, that citizens “are not mentally prepared to continue the society because they basically do not understand the society enough to value it.” A review of the literature does disclose vast areas of general-public ignorance, but the argument here is that those who see downward trends in public knowledge, most usually attributed to the advent of television, lack precision in their definitions of “the public” across time and data to suggest any true declines in public knowledge.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)99-110
JournalKnowledge: Creation, Diffusion, Utilization
StatePublished - 1988


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