The phrase “dumbing down” got its start in entertainment. During the golden age of Hollywood, in the 1930s, “dumbing down” became a screenwriter’s shorthand for making an idea simple enough that people with limited education or experience could understand it. Over time, it came to refer to intellectual oversimplification of all kinds, particularly in the interest of making something coarsely popular. In education, it named a worry about curricula and policy: that students were being asked to do less, held to a lower standard than necessary than they are capable of—and that is necessary to produce an informed citizenry. In the process, “dumbing down” has entrenched and spread as a lamentation, often well beyond any justification.