Oregon Lottery ads say they've put millions into parks, schools, etc. Where is the evidence? Why don't they list how much was given to X entity? Where does the money go? Is this a scam? —You Never Know

Not to rain on your parade, Never—I'm sure you're a well-intentioned liberal like everyone else in Portland—but that's exactly the attitude that put Donald Trump in the White House.

Google "Oregon Lottery dollars" right now. I'll wait. The very first result takes you to a page with a pie chart and a drop-down menu of every county in Oregon. That menu, in turn, will take you to a spreadsheet containing information on every project that Oregon Lottery money has funded in that county, including exact dollar amounts. You can't miss it.

They have brochures, too, and press events, and at least one full-time employee whose entire job is to get this information to penetrate your skull. So the fact that you're asking this question—and asking it in a rather truculent, chest-poking fashion, to boot—is a pretty clear example of what's wrong with our polity.

The problem is not that, like you, Americans don't know the answers to basic questions about government. And it's not that we make no effort to learn those answers—though God knows it's easy enough to do. It's not even the fact that we actively avoid this information, leaping from our armchairs with a Velcro-like sucking sound to change channels every time a media outlet seems in danger of explaining something useful.

No, the problem is that—having defended our brains against all civic knowledge with the ferocity of Henry at Agincourt—we then present OUR OWN IGNORANCE as proof of a conspiracy. "Well, I certainly haven't seen those lottery numbers—what are they hiding? Is this a scam?" All we can do now is hope the rising tide of stupidity reaches the point where we literally forget how to vote. Which, to be fair, could happen.

QUESTIONS? Send them to dr.know@wweek.com.