The September 2017 issue of Reader’s Digest has an interesting article titled “Have Bestsellers Become Dumber?”(Page 118). The article contains data on the grade level of New York Times bestsellers over the years. That refers to the reading grade level needed to comprehend the text. In 1960 that level was eighth grade, and in the 2010s the level is grade 6. This calls us to think about the reason for this dumbing down of the best sellers.
In our materials we have talked about fog indexes, which indicate how clearly the literature expresses its ideas. The Gunning fog index shows the reading level a person must have to understand what the written material is saying. We strive to be clear in what we present.
The problem with this dumbing down is that the public cannot read and understand material that is academic and documented concerning facts about the cosmos. Since many scientific journals and reports are written at a college graduate level, getting factual information is impossible for much of the American public. As a result, the public relies on someone else to tell them what to believe.
More and more people rely on television, movies, and other media to determine what is factual and what is not. This also puts a responsibility on programs like DoesGod Exist? to be honest and factual with what we present. We can never be perfect, but we can strive to be open to instruction and factual in all of our presentations.
–John N. Clayton © 2017