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.

Susan Jacoby, author of The Age of American Unreason, says in an article in the Washington Post, "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 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. Richard Hofstadter, who won a Pulitzer Prize in 1964 for his book, Anti-Intellectualism In American Life, describes how the vast underlying foundations of anti-elite, anti-reason and anti-science have 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."

Mark Bauerlein, in his book, The Dumbest Generation, reveals how a whole generation of youth is being dumbed down by their aversion to reading anything of substance and their addiction to digital "crap" via social media.

Journalist Charles Pierce, author of Idiot America, adds another perspective: “The rise of idiot America today represents--for profit mainly, but also and more cynically, for political advantage in the pursuit of power--the breakdown of a consensus that the pursuit of knowledge is a good. It also represents the ascendancy of the notion that the people whom we should trust the least are the people who best know what they are talking about. In the new media age, everybody is an expert.”

art of the reason for the rising anti-intellectualism can be found in the declining state of education in the U.S. compared to other advanced countries:

  • After leading the world for decades in 25-34 year olds with university degrees, the U.S. is now in 12th place. The World Economic Forum ranked the U.S. at 52nd among 139 nations in the quality of its university math and science instruction in 2010. Nearly 50% of all graduate students in the sciences in the U.S. are foreigners, most of whom are returning to their home countries;
  • The Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs commissioned a civic education poll among public school students. A surprising 77% didn't know that George Washington was the first President; couldn't name Thomas Jefferson as the author of the Declaration of Independence; and only 2.8% of the students actually passed the citizenship test. Along similar lines, the Goldwater Institute of Phoenix did the same survey and only 3.5% of students passed the civics test;
  • According to the National Research Council report, only 28% of high school science teachers consistently follow the National Research Council guidelines on teaching evolution, and 13% of those teachers explicitly advocate creationism or "intelligent design;"
  • 18% of Americans still believe that the sun revolves around the earth, according to a Gallup poll;
  • The American Association of State Colleges and Universities report on education shows that the U.S. ranks second among all nations in the proportion of the population aged 35-64 with a college degree, but 19th in the percentage of those aged 25-34 with an associate or high school diploma, which means that for the first time, the educational attainment of young people will be lower than their parents;
  • 74% of Republicans in the U.S. Senate and 53% in the House of Representatives deny the validity of climate change despite the findings of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences and every other significant scientific organization in the world;
  • According to the 2009 National Assessment of Educational Progress, 68% of public school children in the U.S. do not read proficiently by the time they finish third grade. And the U.S. News & World reported that barely 50% of students are ready for college level reading when they graduate;
  • According to a 2006 survey by National Geographic-Roper, nearly half of Americans between ages 18 and 24 do not think it necessary to know the location of other countries in which important news is being made. More than a third consider it "not at all important" to know a foreign language, and only 14 percent consider it "very important;"
  • According to the National Endowment for the Arts report in 1982, 82% of college graduates read novels or poems for pleasure; two decades later only 67% did. And more than 40% of Americans under 44 did not read a single book--fiction or nonfiction--over the course of a year. The proportion of 17 year olds who read nothing (unless required by school ) has doubled between 1984-2004;
  • Gallup released a poll indicating 42 percent of Americans still believe God created human beings in their present form less than 10,000 years ago;
  • A 2008 University of Texas study found that 25 percent of public school biology teachers believe that humans and dinosaurs inhabited the earth simultaneously.
  • the above copied from https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/wired-success/201407/anti-intellect...

Comments

leontrollski's picture
leontrollski 2 years 34 weeks ago
#1

"A 2008 University of Texas study found that 25 percent of public school biology teachers believe that humans and dinosaurs inhabited the earth simultaneously."

Texas Yeehaa!

Legend 2 years 34 weeks ago
#2

No wonder that we have gone from 1 man = 1 vote. To 1 man = how many votes you can buy.

Dan4liberty's picture
Dan4liberty 2 years 34 weeks ago
#3

Issac Asimov:“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.” From the John Birch Society to now mainstream Republican thinking we see ignorance flows freely unimpeded by any real journalism.

Dan4liberty's picture
Dan4liberty 2 years 34 weeks ago
#4

Issac Asimov:“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.” From the John Birch Society to now mainstream Republican thinking we see ignorance flows freely unimpeded by any real journalism.

R. Kenyatta's picture
R. Kenyatta 2 years 34 weeks ago
#5

I have said this before and, apparently, it needs repeating: the only way that the United States can conduct itself (i.e. vehement racism, perpetual wars around the globe, rampant fraud, American "exceptionalism", "Citizens United", the 2000 coronation of Dumbya Bush by the Supreme Court, Donald J. Trump and Hillary, etc.) is for it to have an ignorant populace. Does anyone really think a nation of 370 million smart and well educated people would stand for such?

Methinks not.

Robindell's picture
Robindell 2 years 34 weeks ago
#6

Canadian residents are familiar with The Second City comedy troupe, originally founded in Chicago, because they also have a location in Toronto. The group from Toronto created the SCTV comedy series that aired on two T.V. networks. Recently, at The Second City in Chicago, several cast members and two administrators quit the company, which is owned by one individual. The main reason they left is because a small number of audience members shouted out bigoted comments in response to questions or comments made by the cast. In one case, a cast member felt somewhat threatened one an audience member came too close to the stage. Each show at The Second City involves a section in which the players solicit suggestions from the audience on which they improvise. The club is based on social and political satire, and Chicago politics always provides plenty of ammunition for satirists. When one cast member asked the audience, what situation annoys you the most, one person, who was sitting next to a Latino couple, answered, "SItting next to a Mexican." In its early days, the troupe had an all-white cast playing to mostly white audiences. In more recent times, the actors at Second City have become more diverse, better reflecting the diversity of American society, particularly a major urban area. The owner and producer, Andrew Alexander, commented that he is going to become more directly involved with the productions, and is going to make sure that the safety of the actors is protected. At late-night shows, there have always been a few questionable comments from audience members who might have been intoxicated. But the level of prejudice that some of the more recent outbursts have reached have been attributed to the Trump campaign, and how it has emboldened the previously silent hate-mongers in the audience. The educational system in America is only looked at by the media and even by many academics in terms of statistics: high school graduation rates and test scores. The high school graduation rate has gone up, but standardized test scores in reading and math have declined. State funding for state universities has been cut. Civics classes have been cut from many schools, and in many districts, there is only one art teacher who travels to different schools. Many students do not get to listen to and know nothing about classical music, as music appreciation instruction is cut. One of the problems is that economics influences so much in America, and corporations supposedly are becoming less likely to hire college graduates who majored in a humanities field and instead want people with business or technology or applied science type of majories. Unless a field has a practical basis with products or services connected with it, society does not place as much value on more abstract areas as it once did. Interestingly, in the past, the Republicans criticized the Democrats for being too soft on the Soviet Union, but now, the Democrats, who probably were hacked by the Russians, are claiming that it is Trump who is being too friendly in his attitude toward Russia. Some of the Trump voters do not seem to be too enamored of the typical conservative ideology, even though Trump has adopted many but not all of their policies. Some of these people feel let down by both parties. Progressives may believe that in education, it is better to pass someone on to the next grade level rather than potentially harm a student's self-esteem by holding them back a year if they don't learn what they should have learned. But if the schools encourage students who didn't adequately pay attention and absorb some key knowledge, of if they stick to what uneducated parents have tried to instill in them rather than replace those notions with what the teacher tried to put forward, I don't think educators are doing much of a service to either such underperforming students or to society as a whole. Germany which orginated free public education made a big mistake in allowing anti-Semitism and other prejudices to go unchecked in the cognitive development of young people. People should call up their state polioticians and local school districts and tell the bureaucrats that just because a student is interested in going into a vocational or blue collar area does not mean that the schools should skimp on offering high-quality, imaginative instruction in civics, history, literature, and the arts, along with math and science.

pkrause12249 2 years 32 weeks ago
#7

This is why...

I recently watch the ENRON movie and this commercial was in the movie. This was the sales pitched made to get all pensions and investors to buy into ENRON.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qo5SJgKdkBQ

There is no motivation for the Republicans to fully fund education and this commercial is proof.

If people are able to learn freely and beyond their potential; how will people listen to a few "Expert" voices that have the motivation to make profit from their destruction?

How will the Republican control the information and more important the conclusions?

I visited Washington D.C. last year and top of the Library of Congress their is the torch of Liberty. An educated citizenry is an important foundation of freedom.

The "Torch of Learning" is the real name of the torch on the Library of Congress. But learning leads to liberty. Liberty leads to change, so maybe it should be named the Torch of Freedom.

This is the reason to make money...

An educated republic is a dangerous and unpredictable... must control information and the conclusions.

zapdam.'s picture
zapdam. 2 years 32 weeks ago
#8

pkrause12249

Thank you for breathing life into this post. There is no doubt a dumbed down Ameria is easier to control.

pkrause12249 2 years 32 weeks ago
#9

This is a movie named "Thinning"... I saw the trailer last night immediately interested.

The goal of common core and "No Child left behind" was to identify people who are motivated by conformity and will feel superiority over others that did not achieve conformity.

Common core and "No Child Left Behind" were Bush era goals. I think of "No Child Left Behind" as Test them, Identify them and Keep them behind - the show your work obligation was the forced conformity and the capitulation to the process to achieve the answer.

Plus the Bush and Republicans need to explain the lack of jobs changed to lack of people with the necessary skills for employment. Not we forced them out of school by consistent test failures and cuts to education funding.

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