[FoRK] The fusion of anti-rationalism with anti-intellectualism - deliberate gullibility: My ignorance is just as good as your knowledge

Stephen D. Williams sdw at lig.net
Sun Jan 25 12:13:07 PST 2015


I thought I was onto other topics, but these quotes are pithy.

https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/wired-success/201407/anti-intellectualism-and-the-dumbing-down-america
> There is a growing and disturbing trend of anti-intellectual elitism in American culture. It’s the dismissal of science, the arts, 
> and humanities and their replacement by entertainment, self-righteousness, ignorance, and deliberate gullibility 
> <https://www.psychologytoday.com/basics/deception>.
...
> "Dumbness, to paraphrase the late senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, has been steadily defined downward for several decades, by a 
> combination of heretofore irresistible forces. These include the triumph of video culture over print culture; a disjunction 
> between Americans' rising level of formal education <https://www.psychologytoday.com/basics/education> and their shaky grasp of 
> basic geography, science and history; and the fusion of anti-rationalism with anti-intellectualism."
> There has been a long tradition of anti-intellectualism in America, unlike most other Western countries.
> ... describes how the vast underlying foundations of anti-elite, anti-reason and anti-science has been infused into America’s 
> political and social fabric. Famous science fiction writer Isaac Asimov once said: "There is a cult of ignorance in the United 
> States, and there has always been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our 
> political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge."
...
> We’re creating a world of dummies. Angry dummies who feel they have the right, the authority and the need not only to comment on 
> everything, but to make sure their voice is heard above the rest, and to drag down any opposing views through personal attacks, 
> loud repetition and confrontation.
>
> Bill Keller, writing in the New York Times(link is external) 
> <http://keller.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/03/05/the-bullying-pulpit/?_r=0> argues that the anti-intellectual elitism is not an elitism 
> of wisdom <https://www.psychologytoday.com/basics/wisdom>, education, experience or knowledge. The new elite are the angry social 
> media posters, those who can shout loudest and more often, a clique of bullies and malcontents baying together like dogs cornering 
> a fox. Too often it’s a combined elite of the anti-intellectuals and the conspiracy followers – not those who can voice the most 
> cogent, most coherent response. Together they ferment a rabid culture of anti-rationalism where every fact is suspect; every 
> shadow holds a secret conspiracy. Rational thought is the enemy. Critical thinking is the devil’s tool.
>
> Keller also notes that the herd mentality takes over online; the anti-intellectuals become the metaphorical equivalent of an angry 
> lynch mob when anyone either challenges one of the mob beliefs or posts anything outside the mob’s self-limiting set of values.
>

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/02/15/AR2008021502901.html

sdw


On 1/24/15 12:03 PM, Stephen D. Williams wrote:
> Good points.  Embrace your anti-intellectual brethren as a necessary counterbalance?
>
> "Intellectuals dwell in the realm of ideas and values, where almost nothing is ever right without qualification. So if 
> anti-intellectualism is a natural aspect of a democratic society, humility ought to be a natural aspect of intellectual life."
>
> Are you an expert, an intellectual, or both?
>
> Interesting definition of bohemian.  Maybe more properly "intellectual bohemian".
>
> I would accept these as the more general type:
> http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=bohemian
> https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bohemianism
> Interesting, in 1860's America: /Bohemian/ became synonymous with /newspaper 
> writer/.^<https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bohemianism#cite_note-Twain-8>
>
> The opposite is Philistinism.  Philistine is a term I always avoided.
> https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philistinism
>
> The problem with a philistine is that, lacking intellectual self-defense, they can be coopted easily by someone with the right 
> degree of guile and cultural insight.  The combination of conservative intellectual concepts and neoconservative populism seems to 
> have done that well recently, causing many to vote against their own best interests.  Getting people to publicly shout " Keep your 
> government hands off my Medicare." has got to the the ultimate.
> http://www.huffingtonpost.com/bob-cesca/get-your-goddamn-governme_b_252326.html
>
> http://www.cjr.org/second_read/richard_hofstadter_tea_party.php?page=all
>
>> The Tea Party is timeless (In print: The American way)
>>
>> Richard Hofstadter’s Anti-Intellectualism In American Life reviewed
>>
>> ...
>> In other words, to Hofstadter, intellectualism is not at all the same thing as intelligence or devotion to a particular set of 
>> ideas. It is a distinctive habit of mind and thought that actually forbids the kind of complete self-assurance that we often 
>> associate with very smart or committed people. You can see how the all-out quality of fundamentalist religion, or of 
>> salesmanship, or of ideologically driven politics, would have been anathema to Hofstadter. Being himself an exemplar of his 
>> conception of the intellectual, he saw the essential problem that is the subject of the book as being an unresolvable tension 
>> between intellectualism and democracy:
>>
>> "Anti-intellectualism . . . is founded in the democratic institutions and the egalitarian sentiments of this country. The 
>> intellectual class, whether or not it enjoys many of the privileges of an elite, is of necessity an elite in its manner of 
>> thinking and functioning . . . . Intellectuals in the twentieth century have thus found themselves engaged in incompatible 
>> efforts: They have tried to be good and believing citizens of a democratic society and at the same time to resist the 
>> vulgarization of culture which that society constantly produces. It is rare for an American intellectual to confront candidly the 
>> unresolvable conflict between the elite character of his own class and his democratic aspirations."
>> ...
>> Another way in which Hofstadter’s framing of the issue is useful is on the question of intellectuals and power. Two categories 
>> related to “intellectual” that he discusses are “bohemians” and “experts.” One could think of the first as being made up of 
>> people who have chosen to preserve their intellectual integrity by living entirely outside what Hofstadter calls “accredited 
>> institutions”; the second is made up of people with specialized knowledge that they have chosen to put at the service of people 
>> in power. Each side thinks of the location it has chosen as the only defensible one, but Hofstadter, typically, prefers to think 
>> of what will inevitably be an uncomfortable balance between the two as ideal: “We are opposed almost by instinct to the divorce 
>> of knowledge from power, but we are also opposed, out of our modern convictions, to their union.” Though proximity to power can 
>> corrupt intellectuals’ integrity, Hofstadter insists that too much distance from power can be corrupting, too, because one’s 
>> ideas don’t get tested. So, once again, equipoise, compromise, and nuance are required. - See more at:
>>
>> Just as it’s tempting, if you don’t know the history, to fall into the view that anti-intellectualism is a threatening new 
>> development, it can also be tempting to believe the opposite: that intellectuals have now assumed their rightful place of power 
>> and respect in American society. (A related idea is that the United States has become a “meritocracy.”) Hofstadter’s book is 
>> valuable as a guard against the second temptation as well as the first. Anti-intellectualism has always been with us, and always 
>> will be; that isn’t shameful, because it’s an aspect of our being a democracy. Conversely, intellectualism should be inherently 
>> uncomfortable, not triumphant. Experts, Hofstadter reminds us, have been important since early in the 20th century, but to point 
>> out that our complex society increasingly needs people who are intelligent and have formal technical education to staff 
>> government and business is not the same thing as saying that the United States has a rich intellectual life. Experts try to dwell 
>> in the realm of rigorously derived knowledge and facts. Intellectuals dwell in the much more difficult realm of ideas and values, 
>> where almost nothing is ever right without qualification, and where contention, contradiction, and uncertainty are inescapable. 
>> So if anti-intellectualism is a natural aspect of a democratic society, humility ought to be a natural aspect of intellectual 
>> life. If you ever begin to think of American life as a struggle between the superior, enlightened few and the mass of yobs, pick 
>> up Anti-Intellectualism in American Life. It ought to cure you.
>>
>
> Potentially interesting reading, although it will take a visit to the library apparently:
>
> http://connection.ebscohost.com/c/articles/24570851/historical-development-anti-intellectualism-american-society-implications-schooling-african-americans 
>
> The Historical Development of Anti-Intellectualism in American Society: Implications for the Schooling of African Americans
> (The name of the journal, in 1990, is kind of shocking now.)
>
> http://connection.ebscohost.com/c/articles/8688471/consequences-democratizing-knowledge-reconsidering-richard-hofstadter-history-education 
>
> The Consequences of Democratizing Knowledge: Reconsidering Richard Hofstadter and the History of Education
>
> sdw
>
>
> In other words, to Hofstadter, intellectualism is not at all the same thing as intelligence or devotion to a particular set of 
> ideas. It is a distinctive habit of mind and thought that actually forbids the kind of complete self-assurance that we often 
> associate with very smart or committed people. You can see how the all-out quality of fundamentalist religion, or of salesmanship, 
> or of ideologically driven politics, would have been anathema to Hofstadter. Being himself an exemplar of his conception of the 
> intellectual, he saw the essential problem that is the subject of the book as being an unresolvable tension between 
> intellectualism and democracy:
>
>    Anti-intellectualism . . . is founded in the democratic institutions and the egalitarian sentiments of this country. The
>    intellectual class, whether or not it enjoys many of the privileges of an elite, is of necessity an elite in its manner of
>    thinking and functioning . . . . Intellectuals in the twentieth century have thus found themselves engaged in incompatible
>    efforts: They have tried to be good and believing citizens of a democratic society and at the same time to resist the
>    vulgarization of culture which that society constantly produces. It is rare for an American intellectual to confront candidly
>    the unresolvable conflict between the elite character of his own class and his democratic aspirations.
>
> - See more at: http://www.cjr.org/second_read/richard_hofstadter_tea_party.php?page=all#sthash.dFVsHsXy.dpuf
>
> In other words, to Hofstadter, intellectualism is not at all the same thing as intelligence or devotion to a particular set of 
> ideas. It is a distinctive habit of mind and thought that actually forbids the kind of complete self-assurance that we often 
> associate with very smart or committed people. You can see how the all-out quality of fundamentalist religion, or of salesmanship, 
> or of ideologically driven politics, would have been anathema to Hofstadter. Being himself an exemplar of his conception of the 
> intellectual, he saw the essential problem that is the subject of the book as being an unresolvable tension between 
> intellectualism and democracy:
>
>    Anti-intellectualism . . . is founded in the democratic institutions and the egalitarian sentiments of this country. The
>    intellectual class, whether or not it enjoys many of the privileges of an elite, is of necessity an elite in its manner of
>    thinking and functioning . . . . Intellectuals in the twentieth century have thus found themselves engaged in incompatible
>    efforts: They have tried to be good and believing citizens of a democratic society and at the same time to resist the
>    vulgarization of culture which that society constantly produces. It is rare for an American intellectual to confront candidly
>    the unresolvable conflict between the elite character of his own class and his democratic aspirations.
>
> - See more at: http://www.cjr.org/second_read/richard_hofstadter_tea_party.php?page=all#sthash.dFVsHsXy.dpuf
>
> In other words, to Hofstadter, intellectualism is not at all the same thing as intelligence or devotion to a particular set of 
> ideas. It is a distinctive habit of mind and thought that actually forbids the kind of complete self-assurance that we often 
> associate with very smart or committed people. You can see how the all-out quality of fundamentalist religion, or of salesmanship, 
> or of ideologically driven politics, would have been anathema to Hofstadter. Being himself an exemplar of his conception of the 
> intellectual, he saw the essential problem that is the subject of the book as being an unresolvable tension between 
> intellectualism and democracy:
>
>    Anti-intellectualism . . . is founded in the democratic institutions and the egalitarian sentiments of this country. The
>    intellectual class, whether or not it enjoys many of the privileges of an elite, is of necessity an elite in its manner of
>    thinking and functioning . . . . Intellectuals in the twentieth century have thus found themselves engaged in incompatible
>    efforts: They have tried to be good and believing citizens of a democratic society and at the same time to resist the
>    vulgarization of culture which that society constantly produces. It is rare for an American intellectual to confront candidly
>    the unresolvable conflict between the elite character of his own class and his democratic aspirations.
>
> - See more at: http://www.cjr.org/second_read/richard_hofstadter_tea_party.php?page=all#sthash.dFVsHsXy.dpuf
>
> In other words, to Hofstadter, intellectualism is not at all the same thing as intelligence or devotion to a particular set of 
> ideas. It is a distinctive habit of mind and thought that actually forbids the kind of complete self-assurance that we often 
> associate with very smart or committed people. You can see how the all-out quality of fundamentalist religion, or of salesmanship, 
> or of ideologically driven politics, would have been anathema to Hofstadter. Being himself an exemplar of his conception of the 
> intellectual, he saw the essential problem that is the subject of the book as being an unresolvable tension between 
> intellectualism and democracy:
>
>    Anti-intellectualism . . . is founded in the democratic institutions and the egalitarian sentiments of this country. The
>    intellectual class, whether or not it enjoys many of the privileges of an elite, is of necessity an elite in its manner of
>    thinking and functioning . . . . Intellectuals in the twentieth century have thus found themselves engaged in incompatible
>    efforts: They have tried to be good and believing citizens of a democratic society and at the same time to resist the
>    vulgarization of culture which that society constantly produces. It is rare for an American intellectual to confront candidly
>    the unresolvable conflict between the elite character of his own class and his democratic aspirations.
>
> - See more at: http://www.cjr.org/second_read/richard_hofstadter_tea_party.php?page=all#sthash.dFVsHsXy.dpuf
> In other words, to Hofstadter, intellectualism is not at all the same thing as intelligence or devotion to a particular set of 
> ideas. It is a distinctive habit of mind and thought that actually forbids the kind of complete self-assurance that we often 
> associate with very smart or committed people. You can see how the all-out quality of fundamentalist religion, or of salesmanship, 
> or of ideologically driven politics, would have been anathema to Hofstadter. Being himself an exemplar of his conception of the 
> intellectual, he saw the essential problem that is the subject of the book as being an unresolvable tension between 
> intellectualism and democracy: - See more at: 
> http://www.cjr.org/second_read/richard_hofstadter_tea_party.php?page=all#sthash.dFVsHsXy.dpuf
>
> In other words, to Hofstadter, intellectualism is not at all the same thing as intelligence or devotion to a particular set of 
> ideas. It is a distinctive habit of mind and thought that actually forbids the kind of complete self-assurance that we often 
> associate with very smart or committed people. You can see how the all-out quality of fundamentalist religion, or of salesmanship, 
> or of ideologically driven politics, would have been anathema to Hofstadter. Being himself an exemplar of his conception of the 
> intellectual, he saw the essential problem that is the subject of the book as being an unresolvable tension between 
> intellectualism and democracy:
>
>    Anti-intellectualism . . . is founded in the democratic institutions and the egalitarian sentiments of this country. The
>    intellectual class, whether or not it enjoys many of the privileges of an elite, is of necessity an elite in its manner of
>    thinking and functioning . . . . Intellectuals in the twentieth century have thus found themselves engaged in incompatible
>    efforts: They have tried to be good and believing citizens of a democratic society and at the same time to resist the
>    vulgarization of culture which that society constantly produces. It is rare for an American intellectual to confront candidly
>    the unresolvable conflict between the elite character of his own class and his democratic aspirations.
>
> - See more at: http://www.cjr.org/second_read/richard_hofstadter_tea_party.php?page=all#sthash.dFVsHsXy.dpuf
>
> In other words, to Hofstadter, intellectualism is not at all the same thing as intelligence or devotion to a particular set of 
> ideas. It is a distinctive habit of mind and thought that actually forbids the kind of complete self-assurance that we often 
> associate with very smart or committed people. You can see how the all-out quality of fundamentalist religion, or of salesmanship, 
> or of ideologically driven politics, would have been anathema to Hofstadter. Being himself an exemplar of his conception of the 
> intellectual, he saw the essential problem that is the subject of the book as being an unresolvable tension between 
> intellectualism and democracy:
>
>    Anti-intellectualism . . . is founded in the democratic institutions and the egalitarian sentiments of this country. The
>    intellectual class, whether or not it enjoys many of the privileges of an elite, is of necessity an elite in its manner of
>    thinking and functioning . . . . Intellectuals in the twentieth century have thus found themselves engaged in incompatible
>    efforts: They have tried to be good and believing citizens of a democratic society and at the same time to resist the
>    vulgarization of culture which that society constantly produces. It is rare for an American intellectual to confront candidly
>    the unresolvable conflict between the elite character of his own class and his democratic aspirations.
>
> - See more at: http://www.cjr.org/second_read/richard_hofstadter_tea_party.php?page=all#sthash.dFVsHsXy.dpuf
> _______________________________________________
> FoRK mailing list
> http://xent.com/mailman/listinfo/fork


-- 
Stephen D. Williams sdw at lig.net stephendwilliams at gmail.com LinkedIn: http://sdw.st/in
V:650-450-UNIX (8649) V:866.SDW.UNIX V:703.371.9362 F:703.995.0407
AIM:sdw Skype:StephenDWilliams Yahoo:sdwlignet Resume: http://sdw.st/gres
Personal: http://sdw.st facebook.com/sdwlig twitter.com/scienteer



More information about the FoRK mailing list