Wikipedia describes anti-intellectualism as “a sentiment of hostility towards, or mistrust of, intellectuals and intellectual pursuits. This may be expressed in various ways, such as attacks on the merits of science, education, art, or literature.” And goes on to say that anti-intellectuals, “often perceive themselves as champions of the ordinary people and populism against elitism, especially academic elitism. These critics argue that highly educated people form an isolated social group tend to dominate political discourse and higher education.” <wiki>
This idea strikes me as particularly interesting because anti-intellectualism seems to be, for the most part, the basis for the anti-scientific perspective. Of course there are real concerns and criticism that exist in regards to intellectual institutions (such as certain approaches to education and science), but to be fundamentally opposed to the pursuit of intellectual development itself? This belief is fascinating because of its self-limiting character.
Where do these sentiment stem from? What are their origins?
And perhaps more importantly, what can be done to curb their spread and growth?
Surrounding the recent US presidential election, and even before, this topic gained a lot of attention. Here is a selection of articles that highlight this important issue and shed light on why we should care about the role of anti-intellectualism in political and international affairs.
- The Dumbing of America, by Susan Jacoby ( Feb. 2008 )
- How Anti-Intellectualism Is Destroying America, by Terrance McNally ( Aug. 2008 )
- The American anti-intellectual threat, by Jeffrey Sachs ( Sept. 2008)
- Palin appeals to America’s anti-intellectualism, by Brendon O’Connor ( Oct. 2008 )
- Goodbye, Anti-intellectualism. Brains are Back!, by Michael Hirsh ( Nov. 2008 )
With the last word, its zefrank.