American Anti-intellectualism

28 Jun

Anti-intellectualism is a big movement among conservatives in the United States. This is movement that completely baffles me. Apparently they disagree that being smart and informed is good. Whaaa? Why would you think that being knowledgeable and informed is a bad thing?

People seek to be smart and informed because doing so improves their ability to make good decisions. The more you know about reality, the better you can plan to make thinks happen the way you want them to. Knowledge improves your quality of life! Knowledge is power!

The sick thing is that the people who started this movement are extremely smart and intellectual. They knew that by convincing the less intelligent people in America that being smart was a bad thing, they could better control and manipulate them. All they had to do was play on the idea of “smart people think they’re better than you”. Angry insecure idiots would keep the ball moving after the initial push.

This whole anti-intellecualism stems from an anti-elitism movement. Sam Harris wrote a wonderful article defending elitism here.

“Ask yourself: how has “elitism” become a bad word in American politics? There is simply no other walk of life in which extraordinary talent and rigorous training are denigrated. We want elite pilots to fly our planes, elite troops to undertake our most critical missions, elite athletes to represent us in competition and elite scientists to devote the most productive years of their lives to curing our diseases. And yet, when it comes time to vest people with even greater responsibilities [government], we consider it a virtue to shun any and all standards of excellence. When it comes to choosing the people whose thoughts and actions will decide the fates of millions, then we suddenly want someone just like us, someone fit to have a beer with, someone down-to-earth—in fact, almost anyone, provided that he or she doesn’t seem too intelligent or well educated.”

3 Responses to “American Anti-intellectualism”

  1. Mike Tamillow July 7, 2009 at 2:30 am #

    are you fucking serious… Of course elitism is a bad thing. Elitism breeds contempt. People who think that their Elitist attitudes are justified tend to act like sociopaths. Just because you are good at something doesn’t mean other people are insignificant. The idea isn’t keeping people that are well educated out of power. The idea is finding people we can trust, people that fit into our group. If they fit into our group they will act appropriately and not use us. Everyone is subject to human nature no matter how smart they are. It’s a scary thought to hear someone defend contempt.

  2. Nathan September 16, 2009 at 10:24 pm #

    There is a difference between being the best and brightest and being full of contempt. You don’t have to be smart to hold others in contempt.

    I can trust a smart person in power more than I can trust a dumb person who is likely to be manipulated from behind the scenes.

  3. Mike Tamillow December 12, 2009 at 6:28 pm #

    No you don’t have to be smart to hold others in contempt. But, smart or dumb, intelligence is not the factor that should be used to consider who is in power. A smart person with ill will is just going to be more deceptive in manipulating you. A dumb person is just going to have a smart person making all the decisions behind him. So either way, the smartest tend to be the one’s influencing the real decisions.

    Elitism is an attitude that because you are smarter than other people you can do what you want with them. Because you had more years of schooling or are clever with words and with resources you have the right to dictate their lives. If they were smarter than you than they should be making decisions right? But they aren’t and you can measure that because you have power over them and not the other way around.

    We are probably talking about two different concepts. But “elitism” as I refer to it is a terrible thing. However, the belief that you should stay ignorant for whatever reason is even worse. By knowing more you can resist people with this elitist attitude. However, you said it yourself, smart people are the ones saying “smart people think they’re better than you”. So do you really want a world of smart people hoping to keep people around them dumb? It’s an ironic conclusion to the reality you presented. A world of true elitists wanting more elitists? Only if those other elitists will team up to manipulate more people at once.

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