...is that logic and rhetoric are not taught well, or (like in my experience) not taught at all.
This is reflected in the political debate, which is getting dumbed-down to the point where rational arguments can be completely absent; and it can be seen all over "teh intarwebs", where multitudes of well-intentioned individuals routinely end up acting like trolls.
One should be able to understand when he is losing the rational argument, and either retreat, reformulate, move the subject onto a different field, or try to bluff his way through. By banging on about the same, lost point over and over again, one doesn't do himself any favour; he might be able to appeal to the basest instincts of some individuals, but he won't be able to win intelligent men to his cause.
I have to admit, I have been guilty of this behaviour several times during the years. I put it down to my lack of knowledge of the abovementioned fields. At school, they taught us how to analyse sentences for syntactical structure, but rarely for meaning, and never for logic. They told us how to write in a readable style, but didn't really ask us to understand where we are in a debate, how to interact strategically during a verbal confrontation, how to step back from the heat and think hard about your next rhetorical move.
Is it a form of large conspiracy, where upper classes try to maintain old privileges by "forgetting" to properly teach these subjects to the uninitiated? Or could it be that these are considered too dangerous a weapon, too prone to abuse, to be widely taught? Or is it simply that education topics are constantly squeezed by the furious pace of technological advancement, to the point where you need to teach kids how to work with newer and newer devices which are fundamental to the current way of life (computer, tv, ipods etc etc)?
In any case, it feels like some of the oldest fields of study ever taught ended up being victims of accomplished mass-scholarisation. I don't think this is helping the masses or anyone else, though.