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nAz
09-10-2008, 12:11 AM
Anti-Intellectualism Is Destroying America
Written by Jack Carlson on 25 August 2008 – 7:36 pm

From Alternet.org:

“It’s like these guys take pride in being ignorant.” Barack Obama finally said it.

Though a successful political and electoral strategy, the Right’s stand against intelligence has steered them far off course, leaving them — and us — unable to deal successfully with the complex and dynamic circumstances we face as a nation and a society.

American 15-year-olds rank 24th out of 29 countries in math literacy, and their parents are as likely to believe in flying saucers as in evolution; roughly 30 to 40 percent believe in each. Their president believes “the jury is still out” on evolution.

Steve Colbert interviewed Georgia Rep. Lynn Westmoreland on “The Colbert Report.” Westmoreland co-sponsored a bill that would require the display of the Ten Commandments in both the House of Representatives and the Senate, but, when asked, couldn’t actually list the commandments.

This stuff would be funny if it weren’t so dangerous.

In the 2004 election, nearly 70 percent of Bush supporters believed the United States had “clear evidence” that Saddam Hussein was working closely with al Qaeda; a third believed weapons of mass destruction were found in Iraq; and more than a third that a substantial majority of world opinion supported the U.S.-led invasion, according to the Program on International Policy Attitudes at the University of Maryland. The political right and allied culture warriors actively ignore evidence and encourage misinformation. To motivate their followers, they label intelligent and informed as “elite,” implying that ignorance is somehow both valuable and under attack.

and from Way of the Mind:

In my opinion, anti-intellectualism is one of the world’s most serious problems, these days.

What is it? It’s the belief that what is good are the “simple people”, the “common people”, who are supposedly more honest and “real” than so-called “ivory tower” intellectuals.

It’s also the belief that thinking and learning are trouble, that they lead people to unhappiness, sinfulness, asking too many questions, and such.

It’s geeks, or more intelligent students, being called “brainy” or “nerds” and harassed by classmates. It’s science being seen as a waste of time and money. It’s a political candidate winning an election because he successfully depicted his opponent as an “egghead”. Incidentally, it’s likely that one of the reasons America currently has one of its worst presidents ever is that, by being less educated and articulate than Gore or Kerry, he appeared “more in touch” with the common man (of course, one should then wonder if you really want the village idiot in charge of the most powerful nation in the world… but I digress.)

There are several sources of anti-intellectualism. Religion is an obvious one, of course, since being intelligent and learning makes one less likely to accept arguments from authority, and to question unproven assertions. An intelligent, learned man has no need for religion - therefore, we don’t want any intelligent, learned men (to paraphrase The Fountainhead’s Elllsworth Toohey).

Besides “normal” religion, there’s also the usual mystical, new age thinking, according to which the mind is “flawed” and imperfect, incapable of perceiving any real “revelations”, which you supposedly can only grasp with “your heart” or “your spirit”. The mind is human, and therefore imperfect, while the heart/spirit are filled with “the cosmos’s love” or any other generic, meaningless terms.

Another reason is populism, the belief that the honest, hard working “masses” are oppressed by the corrupt, privileged “elites”. While they certainly are, sometimes (in dictatorships, for instance), populism is wrong because of its belief of “the lower, the better”, and its worship of ordinariness. Populism, like most forms of collectivism, punishes people for ability and for success - therefore, it promotes mediocrity and sameness. And a populist certainly hates and feels threatened by anyone with more “brains” or education.

Dictatorships (communism, fascism, etc.) always strongly promote anti-intellectualism, for mostly the same reasons as religion does: an intelligent, educated person is much more likely to question, and to see “what’s rotten”. The “unwashed masses” are much easier to keep in line. Higher education is seen as “dangerous” and “subversive”.

An intellectual isn’t necessarily someone more intelligent or with more knowledge than the norm. It just means that the person highly values the mind, thinking, and the pursuit of knowledge. And it’s frightening, to me, how few intellectuals (by that definition) I personally know. Anti-intellectuals (people who deride the mind, who pride themselves on not thinking, on not using their reason), on the other hand, are everywhere.

During this presidential campaign we’ve heard the terms “elite” and “elitist” used as pejorative terms. I agree with Bill Maher when he said,

Say it loud: I’m elite and proud! The right-wing crusade to demonize elites has paid off. Now the country’s run by incompetents who make mediocrity a job requirement and recruit from Pat Robertson’s law school. New rule: Now that liberals have taken back the word liberal, they also have to take back the word “elite.” By now you’ve heard the constant right-wing attacks on the “elite,” or as it’s otherwise known, “hating.” They’ve had it up to their red necks with the “elite media.” The “liberal elite.” Who may or may not be part of the “Washington elite.” A subset of the “East Coast elite.” Which is influenced by “the Hollywood elite.” So basically, unless you’re a shitkicker from Kansas, you’re with the terrorists.

I don’t get it: In other fields — outside of government — elite is a good thing, like an elite fighting force. Tiger Woods is an elite golfer. If I need brain surgery, I’d like an elite doctor. But in politics, elite is bad (Source)

It’s not just politics, though. As the influence of fundamental religion grows worldwide, it is becoming perceived as honorable, honest, down-to-Earth to be ignorant and bad-mouth intellectualism. A 16 year old kid makes the news dropping out of high school to play Guitar Hero. Education and the desire to know are no longer priorities.

Do you value the intellect? Does the negative connotation of “elite” and “intellectual” bother you?

Deeman3
09-10-2008, 07:43 AM
nAz,

This argument has been coming up for at least a couple of centuries and very prominently since the 1950's. While most value intellect, just setting up the argument has been a loser for the side that "picks" the intellectual mantel in most elections.

In a perfect world, elections would be won on the merit of the arguments put forth and analysed by impartial critics. Despite claims of a new partisanship by the media, there is always a slant. However, in the end, all people not focused very narrowly on politics, a very large majority, will choose on a very few factors, perhaps not those held dearest by the so-called intellectual group. They choose because they identify with a candidate even over what some may see as self-interest.

As terrible as it is, most do not step into a voting booth and elect based on what they think the person will do for them. They vote based on who they most identify with. That is precisely why one side always picks the "elitist" badge for the other. If they can prosecute the charge, they win.

While we all may agree intellectual prowess is a good thing, many are not convinced they can get anything done. The perfect speech delivered flawlessly may instill confidence in a small group of followers but the masses of people like to see the flaws in their candidates that make them human. If it were about smooth talking, Obama would be a shoo in. Now he is struggling to be seen as hunman but does not knwo how and, perhaps, has lost his way for a bit. Everyone seems to like him but no one feels much for him as a human being yet.

Gayle in MD
09-10-2008, 10:04 AM
Apparently most voters, by a 17% margin still believe that obama represents change more than McCain, with 40 to 33 in Obama's favor who say they would prefer to have dinner with obama, rather than McCain.

Naz's great post does show the link between religious types, and their distaste for deductive reasoning, and preference toward suspension of deductive reaonsing.

This shows up in theRepublican party on every issue from economics, taxes, global warming, sex education, and above everythng else, the lies that this administration used to go to war, and the real time results.

I think I recall some years back being called a wannabe elitist for calling George Bush a liar.... /forums/images/%%GRAEMLIN_URL%%/wink.gif some now count over 900 lies, and still going strong.

Woodward's book, using direct quotes from Bush, in national adresses, highlights all his lies, giving the actual real time grave worries and concerns of the Joint Chiefs at the time.

Once again Republican voters are deciding to suspend critical judgement, choosing instead to believe that McCain represents change, after being on board with Bush's policies throughout. Expecting us to believe that a man who would hide behind a woman in order to avoid answering to, and accepting his own documented role in every Bush disaster, including the surge, which is not a success at all, and turn this most important election of all times into yet another culture war with the broadcasting of lie after lie, is a hero.

What the Republicans exploit is ignorance, hatred, division, and the lack of independant thinking their followers are know to prefer to reality.

Gayle in Md.

eg8r
09-10-2008, 10:10 AM
<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Quote:</div><div class="ubbcode-body">Apparently most voters, by a 17% margin still believe that obama represents change more than McCain, with 40 to 33 in Obama's favor who say they would prefer to have dinner with obama, rather than McCain.
</div></div>Can someone please tell me how stating one would like to have dinner with Obama means they believe Obama represents change? I would prefer to have dinner with Obama also. NOT because of his misleading message of change, but rather to hear some great stories about the corruption of chicago politics and how he was involved in it.

eg8r

Deeman3
09-10-2008, 10:13 AM
<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Originally Posted By: Gayle in MD</div><div class="ubbcode-body">Once again Republican voters are deciding to suspend critical judgement, choosing instead to believe that McCain represents change, after being on board with Bush's policies throughout. Gayle in Md. </div></div>

<span style="color: #FF0000"> Of course, Gayle, you can't lay this off on Republicans as you have so often mentioned, the party has shrunk so much there will have to be a mass rejection of Obama by many more than the Republican Party if McCain wins. Your contention that women, by the millions, are rising up to reject McCain and Palin is just not proving out so far. If you keep on getting outmatched by the same cretins, election after election, who are the real intellectuals in the game? </span>

Gayle in MD
09-10-2008, 10:17 AM
Given the results of their votes, that question, too, is a good example of suspending critical judgement. /forums/images/%%GRAEMLIN_URL%%/laugh.gif

bsmutz
09-10-2008, 10:46 AM
I watched the movie "Idiocracy" last weekend. I felt dumber after watching it, but there were some pretty uncanny similarities to what we see going on around us now.

Gayle in MD
09-10-2008, 10:57 AM
I don't think I've heard of that movie. Where is it shown? Is it available for purchase, or on cable? Can you give me a brief description?

Two movies that all should see ...

No End In Sight, and IOUSA. I am waiting anxiously for Bill Maher's movie, Religulous. I know that's going to be a good one!

/forums/images/%%GRAEMLIN_URL%%/laugh.gif

Gayle in MD
09-10-2008, 11:02 AM
<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Quote:</div><div class="ubbcode-body">Can someone please tell me how stating one would like to have dinner with Obama means they believe Obama represents change? </div></div>

Can you show me where I said that. They were obviously two separate questions.

<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Quote:</div><div class="ubbcode-body"> I would prefer to have dinner with Obama also. </div></div>
He doesn't dine with liars. That leaves you out.

wolfdancer
09-10-2008, 11:19 AM
intellectualism did not play a part in the last two elections

Gayle in MD
09-10-2008, 11:23 AM
Never before has a group of Americans provided such demonstrative proof of their love of lies, smut, slander and superficiality as during the Republican Convention.

It was truly ignorance on parade.

Deeman3
09-10-2008, 12:32 PM
Idiotocracy is being shown on HBO or Max or one of the other movies channels now.

Deeman3
09-10-2008, 12:37 PM
<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Originally Posted By: wolfdancer</div><div class="ubbcode-body">intellectualism did not play a part in the last two elections </div></div>

<span style="color: #FF0000">Wolfdancer,

While they would never have giving that label to Gore, they did hang it on John Heinz Kerry in 2004 pretty successfully. For some reason, they were able to much better portray Kerry's relationship with his wife better than they have with McCain and Cindy. It's really basically the same story but played differently by the Republicans than the Democrats. Both Bush and Kerry had Ivy League educations but they were able to get the elitist tag to stick with Kerry. Part of it was his Boston accent I think. </span>

Gayle in MD
09-10-2008, 12:44 PM
thank you. /forums/images/%%GRAEMLIN_URL%%/smile.gif

wolfdancer
09-10-2008, 02:23 PM
lww still functions somewhat, despite his own anti-intellectualism
/forums/images/%%GRAEMLIN_URL%%/grin.gif

bsmutz
09-10-2008, 03:18 PM
Gayle,
The movie, Idiocracy, stars Luke Wilson and a bunch of lesser actors. The premise is that two average people are involved in a military experiment and get frozen for a few hundred years. When they finally come to, the world has gotten progressively dumber each generation. These two average people are now the world's smartest by a large margin.

Deeman3
09-10-2008, 03:20 PM
It is not a giant among movies but I thik bsmutz was more just making a point although I have to agree, if we keep making progress in education, we may get there soon.

An Ivy League education is apparently not what it used to be. /forums/images/%%GRAEMLIN_URL%%/smile.gif

Qtec
09-10-2008, 04:25 PM
<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Originally Posted By: eg8r</div><div class="ubbcode-body"><div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Quote:</div><div class="ubbcode-body">Apparently most voters, by a 17% margin still believe that obama represents change more than McCain, with 40 to 33 in Obama's favor who say they would prefer to have dinner with obama, rather than McCain.
</div></div>Can someone please tell me how stating one would like to have dinner with Obama means they believe Obama represents change?

eg8r </div></div>

LMAO.
How ironic. In a thread about anti-intellectualism you demonstrate that you can't even read a simple sentence AND understand it.

Q

eg8r
09-11-2008, 07:31 AM
<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Quote:</div><div class="ubbcode-body">He doesn't dine with liars. That leaves you out. </div></div>You are kidding yourself if you believe this.

eg8r

DickLeonard
09-11-2008, 09:34 AM
Naz this means Gayle and I are elitests would you like to be included in our group.####

DickLeonard
09-11-2008, 09:47 AM
Deeman I think most of the leading Universities/Colleges are in Mass. So Intellectualism is a Mass thing. 11 Days in Alabama and not a newspaper to read. I finally found a Starbucks and bought a New York Times.

It was more like thievery played the biggest part and it looks like the Repubs are starting again.####

llotter
09-14-2008, 03:10 PM
Three cheers for the anti-intellectuals out there. The pointy-headed, elitist, snobs merit a lot less respect than they are usually accorded. Intellectuals have the deserved reputation of being out of touch, lacking common sense and generally hair-brained. Buckley said, with good reason, he would rather be governed by the first 2000 names in the telephone directory that by the Harvard faculty

llotter
09-15-2008, 03:09 PM
Ignorance plus arrogance equals an intellectual.