In my last post I explored where I think the current denigration of intellectual rigor may have come from (I think it has its roots in the American rejection of British class distinctions and a more egalitarian, personal-opportunity model). But whatever the cause, I think it’s safe to say there is a growing (and very disturbing) anti-intellectual attitude emerging, particularly in the “Red state/Blue State” political environment. People from so-called red states say that “elitists” from the coasts (New York and California, for the most part) no longer represent the values and positions of “real” Americans and should not be allowed to determine policy that affects them. This plays out in lots of ways. Right now Trump is conducting a war on “the lying media,” by which I guess he means any journalist, newspaper or TV network that disagrees with him or calls him out on his (many) lies. That’s not the saddest part; Nixon had the same siege mentality. The scariest thing to me is how many people seem to go along with him. To take one glaring example: Trump’s claim (laughably repeated by Sean Spicer) that his inaugural address was “attended by more people than any other in the history of the country, period.” When it’s obviously not, by simply comparing side-by-side photos taken from the same vantage point of both inaugural crowds. In order to believe Trump you would have to accept that one or the other photo was altered. While I’m not naïve enough to believe that impossible, that would have to mean either there are no contradictory photos (hard to believe) or that virtually EVERYONE in the media is colluding to hide “the truth.” I’m not enough of a conspiracy theorist to buy that, partly because SOMEONE, somewhere, would break silence and blow the cover. Same reason I don’t believe in conspiracy theories in general.
And yet, there are people who deny the Holocaust. In spite of the fact that there are people alive today who were in German concentration camps. There are US military personnel alive today who liberated the camps. But I digress.
I had lunch the other day with a professor from one of our local universities. He told me that in his classes he has had students who, when asked to defend their positions in class or in papers, have refused, saying “that proves his liberal bias.”
On what planet does being asked to justify or support your position constitute a bias of any kind, liberal or otherwise? Setting aside the very real possibility that these particular students were either lazy morons or smart-ass kids, the fact that, with a straight face, they would parade their ignorance and denial of even the need to provide a rational explanation for their positions, makes me just shake my head in amazement.
Imagine these doofuses (doofi?) getting into the business world and trying to use that argument. Their boss says, “You say we should pursue this or that strategy. Tell my why you think that?” And they respond “I don’t have to. The fact that you want me to explain myself proves to me you’re an elitist and biased.” How long do you think they would stay employed?
My professor friend went on to say that this was by no means the norm; maybe 2 or 3 out of a class of 40 might take that position. But even that 2 or 3 students in college would take that position is scary. The reason to go to college is to learn how to think!! (Head banging on table).
Just the other day our benighted head of EPA made his biases clear when he said that (paraphrasing) “Carbon dioxide hasn’t been established as the major cause of global warming.” Um…yeah, it has. Furthermore, it’s the consensus among scientists that it’s anthrogenic.
Is it any wonder that a few muddle-headed college students (bound for chronic unemployment) think the way they do, when our national “le