Monday, August 10, 2009

Anti-Intellectualism, Anti-Thought, Anti-Knowledge

I've been meaning to do a blogpost about it for a while.

Much of society is anti-intellectual. It's astounding the amount of times I've seen people burst into outrage over an academic term or the introduction of relevant statistics into a online discussion (like TG suicide rates or hate-crime stats for example)

The reasons for this, as best as I can deduce, is firstly that many average-IQ people like to make fun of and mock learning-challenged and neuro-atypical people and so place a lot in considering themselves superior to others in that regard.

So when faced with those who are more intelligent than themselves whether they are quick-witted or slow thorough thinkers they feel threatened and imediately assume the smarter person will act the way they do. Hence condemnations of 'you think your better than everyone else' 'stop acting so superior' 'i'm not insuperior to you' (yes, real quote, they didn't say inferior but insuperior)

Crucial to this is the claim that academia is an 'act', that technical jargon is 'babble' (a favourite appears to be psychobabble) and in reality meaningless and that all such things are in fact false and without value. Thus they can dissmiss the speaker and what is spoken as invalid, not correct and quackery.

Other elements of this involve a culture that feelling is all a person is not their thoughts and actions and that thinking too much is bad. This helps keep people much more easilly manipulated both by peers and by partners and by politicians and by media and especially by advertising.

Also there is an assumption that everyone is somehow 'the same' (which is different from equal, very different) and that achievement is due only to effort, the learning-challenged are seen as lazy and deserving of scorn and the clever as being so only by excessive study and a lack of quality of life. You see the same thing in sports where it's assumed the people who win tried hardest ignoring that some are born with better muscle-attachments etc. This lie of sameness protects the inequality of the advantages some are born with.. and of course there is great hostility towards intellectual people having any sort of social advantage hence the increasing vilification of them by those involved in social competition, especially sexual competition (a lot of people I know consider that smart is sexy, in men and in women, but a lot of people have a lot invested in fighting that view)

And then there's the hostility towards and suspician of all knowledge that is not direct personal experience. Despite books being the recording of life experiences of one or more peoples life experiences etc statistics, studies, nothing is considered valid but a persons direct experience so if its something they havent seen themselves it doesn't exist. Worse they dont see that they things through filters of assumption so they will say racism and sexism do not exist even while perpetrating it because it does not fit their understanding of their own experience and the reality of subjective bias.

And then there's the missunderstood view that 'all opinions are equally true because they are peoples opinions' rather than 'all people are equally entitled to form and hold their own opinion, which may or may not reflect actual reality' which sure is not the same thing.

Anti-intellectualism of course has extended far beyond a hostility towards solely armchair researchers and academic conservative authoritarianism in disregard to actual evidence in favour of old and beloved theories to a pervasive hostility of any understanding of any situation beyond the individual self. A rejection of there being an objective reality at all. Not just a legacy of post-medernism and trendy existentialism though it's also a favoured lever of the culture war.

It has a flaw as a strategy in the culture wars though... as it's also led to more GLBT people accepting themselves over ideology. Which is why there is much more expression of a broader gender-spectrum amongst young people and increasing tolerance of GLBT issues.

The danger of this new romanticism to those that fostered it is that in the long term it taps in to the deeper feellings of people, deeper understanding of themselves... and watch what happens as the natural philosophers and ponderers and measurers of the next generation hold true to their passions towards understanding the material world...

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