For most of modern history, logic was a core requirement for every single educated person in the developed world. In fact, teaching logic was one of the main reasons universities were created in the first place. William Shakespeare and John Milton grew up during times when even young children studied logic in grammar school. Shakespeare's writings are filled with references to logic, and Milton wrote “of all the arts the first and most general is logic..."
But today logic is seen as a niche, technical subject that only a small fraction of educated people know anything about. How did this happen? Logicians and historians do not agree. Some blame politics, others blame the market. John Sowa, a leader in artificial intelligence and ontology, has a more specific explanation: "I blame Bertrand Russell. He wanted schools to stop teaching traditional logic and replace it with symbolic logic. He got 50% of what he asked for." Bertrand Russell was a famous advocate for the education reforms of the early 20th century which de-emphasized the classical liberal arts in favor of subjects thought to be more modern and practical.
But logic is practical, especially in our modern media-driven world where politicians, advertisers and pundits constantly use their own forms of reasoning to persuade us of some position or another. When we follow others' rules for reasoning, or even our own, we often make mistakes. The rules of logic are the same for everyone, but they do not come naturally, they must be taught. And because logic is no longer required in schools, logic literacy among educated adults is declining. The Institute for Logic and the Public Interest was formed to promote logic education and reverse the insidious effects of logic illiteracy.