When opinions and speculations are preferred over science and real facts
In American schools, the culture exalts the athlete and good-looking cheerleader. Well-educated and intellectual students are commonly referred to in public schools and the media as “nerds,” “dweebs,” “dorks,” and “geeks,” and are looked down upon by the more popular “jocks” for openly displaying any intellect. These anti-intellectual attitudes are not reflected in students in some European or Asian countries, whose educational levels have now equaled and and will surpass that of the U.S.
In Japan, for example, teachers (rather than rich people) are held in high esteem and normally viewed as among the most important members of a community. In the U.S., public schools and public school teachers promote politically-correct curriculum built on popularity and/or profit. In Japan, teachers are typically held to a higher standard and are paid more than their peers in the U.S. The profession of teaching is seen as having central value in society and those who choose that profession are respected for their knowledge and their efforts on behalf of children.
In America 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.
The anti-intellectual elitism is not an elitism of wisdom, 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 ignorant arrogant – not those who can voice the most cogent, most coherent response. Together they foment a rabid culture lacking in common sense where fact is dismissed without investigation and rational thought is the enemy. Critical thinking is boring, considered merely opinion, and a waste of time.
The herd mentality takes over on the internet; 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.
The online young are skewed toward fashions, entertainment, spectacle, and voyeurism. They are directed towards trivia, towards the inconsequential, towards unquestioning and blatant consumerism. This results in intellectual complacency. People accept without questioning, believe without weighing the choices, join the pack because in a culture where convenience rules, real individualism is too hard work. Thinking takes too much time: it gets in the way of the immediacy of the online experience.
Reality TV and pop culture presented in magazines and online sites claim to provide useful information about the importance of silly fads that can somehow enrich our lives. After all, how else can one explain the insipid and pointless stories that tout divorces, cheating and weight gain? How else can we explain how the Kardashians, or Paris Hilton are known for being famous without actually contributing anything worth discussion? The artificial events of their lives become the mainstay of populist media to distract people from the real issues and concerns facing us.
The current trend of the increasing arrogance of ignorance now establishing itself in politics and business leadership, and supported by a declining education system should be a cause for concern for all of us.