In the years following the Great Recession, people across the United States are paying more attention to the people who tell them what to think.
As a result, it is estimated that the number of Americans who actually listen to their own words and listen to the thoughts and feelings of those around them has declined by more than 70%.
The phenomenon has also become so widespread that it has become the most commonly used word in US political campaigning.
It is this attention-based thinking that, it has been claimed, makes politicians look so stupid.
What is it about this attention that makes people so stupid?
Anecdotal evidence suggests that it is not just the way we speak, but the way that we think that is deeply ingrained.
In a study of Americans aged 50-80, psychologists at the University of Wisconsin-Madison found that while some Americans did not have the time or interest to think critically, they also did not think much about how they spoke, what they said and how they acted.
Why do we say dumb things?
As research into the ways in which we communicate and think has intensified, so has the idea that stupidity is a symptom of a broader problem.
When we talk about the stupidity of people, we tend to talk about those who are more or less dumb.
In fact, people who are less intelligent are more likely to say stupid things.
But this is not the whole story.
A new paper by social psychologist Jonathan Zittrain and his colleagues in the US, the UK and Germany shows that the most effective way to counter this stupidity-and-obviousness phenomenon is to make people aware of how stupid they are.
A study of US adults by Zittrained found that if they listened to an American speaker who spoke in a low-key tone and was highly educated, and then read the same speaker’s speech in a more academic, confident tone, the participants were more likely than not to become more intelligent.
Zittrain, who has spent a lot of time studying language and the brain, says that when he first started working with the idea of attention-focused thinking, he wondered why the research was so sparse and anecdotal.
“It’s a bit of a mystery,” he says.
“But the answer lies in the fact that most of the research into attention-related thinking was done in the 1960s and 70s and is very, very good at describing how people actually think.”
It can be hard to understand what the American researchers were finding.
But in the early years of the last century, cognitive scientist James Watson published the famous work of his friend and colleague, psychologist John Dewey, on the way people talk.
Watson and Dewey had both noticed a trend among some of the most successful people in the world, especially in the arts and sciences, and they began to see similarities in the way they thought and acted.
When they were asked to think of people who had achieved great achievements in their careers, they would tend to think that they had been smart, but they would often forget that the person they were thinking about had been a bit stupid.
And when asked to say the same thing of a person who had not been as successful as they had, they tended to say it was dumb.
“I think we have to be more aware of the people that we’re talking to,” says Zittraining.
“It’s important to recognise that we are dealing with people, and when we’re dealing with someone, we’re usually not thinking about what they are saying, but rather about what their behaviour is.”
So why does the American public pay attention to stupid people?
The research suggests that the dumbest people, like the ones in Zittran’s study, have an advantage in the eyes of others, and so people tend to look up to them.
For example, when people hear about someone with an IQ of 130, they look to see if they can find a way of beating the odds.
If the person has an IQ that is below 140, they do not think it is smart to be as smart as them.
When people hear the word “dumb”, they look up and say, “Wow, that’s a lot smarter than I thought.”
But the effect of dumb people is not limited to their ability to outperform others.
Zittrains research also found that when people heard about a person with a lower IQ, they tend to say things that are less accurate, and also less likely to be true.
This effect is a little known, but it has to do with how we judge someone’s intelligence.
If we hear that someone is smart, it can cause us to think more highly of them.
It can also be a form of self-esteem, because the more we consider someone smart, the more confident we feel in our own abilities.
But the same effect can also have negative effects, because it can lead people to judge other people as dumb.In other